Why The COP26 Climate Summit Will Be Both Crucial And Disappointing
Such global gatherings remain the best forum to force change.
Even when COPs are hyped as the last chance to act, the rise in the atmosphere’s greenhouse-gas content and the associated warming of the climate continues, as our special report this week sets out. The process is ruled by consensus, which means that the pace is set by the least willing. And yet it still plays a crucial role.
For one thing, some COPs do in fact make a difference, as at the meeting in Paris in 2015, where countries pledged to keep the rise in Earth’s temperature since the mid-19th century well below 2°C. What’s more, the science, diplomacy, activism and public opinion that support COPs make them the best mechanism the world has to come to terms with a fundamental truth. The dream of a planet of almost 8bn people all living in material comfort will be unachievable if it is based on an economy powered by coal, oil and natural gas.