Rosemary Ganley The Peterborough Examiner November 18, 2021
I followed COP 26 from Glasgow pretty closely. The Canadian contributions were large and worthy. The irrepressible Catherine McKenna, who insists on an outdoor swim wherever she goes, kept in touch via Twitter.
She was once our minister of the environment, so she knows the issues and the players, and has become a freelance global activist on climate.
She noticed, as did I, that while decision-makers are almost entirely old, male leaders of countries, real action is happening on the ground, and is young and female. Greta Thunberg led a march of 100,000 young people on the streets on November 6.
I was shattered by the photo by Alessandra Rizzo, a British photographer, of the men leaders almost entirely in blue suits, white shirts and red ties, standing in rather assertive stances for what is called a “family photo” during the first week of COP. Only three women, as far as I could count. This cannot endure into the future. Not where life-changing decisions are being made.
It was two weeks of tremendous learning from many reliable sources. ”Net zero” means that carbon emissions must be offset by equal amounts of natural or tech-driven carbon capture. And this is the nub of the great debate.
What I discovered: China has a target year for net zero emissions of 2070. Its share of greenhouse emissions is 27 percent of the global total. The U.S. has a target year of 2050, and it is responsible for 14 percent of the bad stuff. But in the second week, China sent a message it wanted to engage with the U.S right away. Good news.
These emitters are followed by the E.U. and then India, whose target year is 2070. Russia, Japan, and Canada are next. We set our target year at 2050. We are contributing 1.6 percent of worldwide emissions. One good statistic is that 67 percent of our power generation is now from renewables.
The best newsletter I found is SIGNAL, put out by the group “GZERO,” which has leadership from Ottawa-based Diana Carney (yes, the spouse of Mark Carney, who led the financial sector pledges). Banker Carney delivered as promised a commitment of $130 billion dollars for projects to wean the global economy off fossil fuels. “Bring us your project plans,” he said to the developing world, “we have the money.”
Then because promises are only promises until kept, and are seen to be kept, Chrystia Freeland, our finance minister, said that Canada will develop an accountability office in Montreal, to track and report on work done. Satellite technology enables this now. Transparency and sanctions are crucial. Every parent knows that.
Another agreement was on stopping methane, a dangerous greenhouse gas. Another, signed by 100 countries, promised to end deforestation (Canada, Brazil, China, DRC, Indonesia and the U.S. That means something since those countries are responsible for 85 percent of the world’s forests).
Coal production came under fire: Michael Bloomberg pledged to help 35 countries end it. I find it hard to criticize money from the private sector. All hands on deck. We are smart enough to discern when a company is just “greenwashing” itself.
Another voice, a local boy making good, came to prominence: that of Dr. Christopher Lyon, son of Cheryl Lyon, whose new research paper is on lengthening the time-frame modelling to 500 years not just 80.
In the good news column, Canadian Katharine Hayhoe, an evangelical Christian teaching in Texas and a renowned climate scientist, tells us that before the Paris Accord 2015, we were headed for seven degrees warming. Now it is 2.7 - still troubling. In fact, Week 2 was very sobering, as scientists crunched numbers.
Moreover, only 14 percent of Canadians talk about the climate crisis. We must increase that. “It’s a bumpy road ahead,” said Gerald Butts of Cape Breton. Let’s equip ourselves for this road. Most of us can practice more frugality: cycling, using electric cars, installing solar panels, reducing meat-eating and beginning to love apartment-living.
Primarily, agitate politicians to do what they said they would do in Glasgow.
"Gleanings" is Rosemary Ganley's new book. You can purchase directly from the author at firstname.lastname@example.org or from >Amazon<