Can COP 26 succeed?

26th October, 2021

The path of trying to bring together disparate countries with disparate goals seldom runs smooth and COP 26 is no exception. Even the Queen has expressed her irritation at the ever-changing guest list and lack of tangible plans. However, there is another important question: even If clear agreements are made, will it make any difference in reality?

The experience of Paris suggests that things could go either way. Many countries have not kept to the commitments they made or, if they have, it is only because the pandemic shut down their economies. The dramatic exit of the US under Donald Trump shows that progress is often dependent on the whims of individual politicians.

Many politicians struggle to make difficult and unpopular choices. The problem is that progress on climate will probably involve some element of jeopardy, whether it is changes to standards of living, fluctuating energy prices or limiting consumer choice. When countries are already struggling to recover from the pandemic, it may be that climate commitments are among the first casualties.

Equally, some of the most significant problems are unlikely ever to be tackled by politicians. For example, population growth remains one of the biggest contributors to global warming. For most Western democracies, this is, understandably, a ‘no go’ area.

However, that it has proved difficult doesn’t mean that policymakers shouldn’t try. In the next five years, policymakers will have a number of tailwinds. The first is the involvement of the financial community. Sustainable investing has taken off significantly in the past two years and there are now tangible financial incentives for many companies and citizens to decarbonise.

At the same time, the world has moved on. The pandemic has made people stop and think about the environment and there is far more awareness among consumers about the choices they are making. There is more appetite for the type of tough choices needed to ensure the planet’s survival. Today, there are more votes in tackling climate change than there were five years ago.

And what is the alternative? It’s not like these problems are going to go away by themselves. Far-sighted politicians may be starting to look beyond the unpalatable choices they face today to how history may judge them if they fail to get this right. In just five years, the world has changed considerably and this may mean that commitments made at COP 26 have more staying power.

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This article was sourced from Adviser-Hub.co.uk.

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