The health pandemic is not yet over but the world is now bracing for another kind of global pandemic – climate change. Like the virus which plagued the planet for more than a year and drastically changed the way we live, climate change also has the capacity to destroy lives and livelihood by creating bigger storms, higher floods, and more intense wildfires.
Our country is not spared from the dire effects of climate change. As a nation of islands and a geographic location on the path of tropical cyclones, the Philippines bears the brunt of natural disasters. We only have to check the news recently to see the devastation caused by Typhoon Maring.
With our country’s vulnerability, it is a must for our climate and environment leaders to see to it that our voices are heard at COP26. Opening in Glasgow, United Kingdom tomorrow, Oct. 31, 2021, is the United Nations Climate Change Conference. This is the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Delayed for a year because of the pandemic, the event will gather nations who are expected to report on their commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, which was hatched during COP21 in Paris in 2015.
While climate change brings with it a bleak outlook, a statement from the organizers of COP26 shed some cautious optimism – as long as every country cooperates. “While the impacts of climate change are devastating, advances in tackling it are leading to cleaner air, creating good jobs, restoring nature, and at the same time, unleashing economic growth. Despite the opportunities, we are not acting fast enough. To avert this crisis, countries need to join forces urgently.”
Many experts have said that the COP26 is the “world’s best chance” to get runaway climate change under control. The UN has for nearly three decades been bringing together nations for global climate summits. Through time, climate change has transformed from a local issue to a global priority.
“In the run up to COP26, the UK is working with every nation to reach agreement on how to tackle climate change. More than 190 world leaders are expected, together with thousands of negotiators, government representatives, businesses. and citizens for 12 days of talks,” the COP26 statement added.
More than words, what all citizens should look at is the compliance to the Paris Agreement since this sought the commitment of all nations to work together to limit global warming to well below two degrees and aim for 1.5 degrees. “The commitment to aim for 1.5 degrees is important because every fraction of a degree of warming results in the tragedy of many more lives lost and livelihoods damaged. Under the Paris Agreement, countries committed to bring forward national plans setting out how much they would reduce their emissions.”
The Glasgow event will be crucial since countries will update their plans for reducing emissions. Early reports, however, are not promising as commitments laid out in Paris did not come close to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. In fact, greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere even reached record levels last year.
Moving forward, the overarching goal is to get the cooperation of all nations to combat the root causes of climate change. Our country can only hope that the COP26 is not only about hollow commitments and photo ops, otherwise, we may miss the chance to become climate resilient and end up suffering the most.