By Amelia Alexopoulos / News Editor
As progress has been made in the past year regarding the coronavirus pandemic, including the creation and distribution of successful vaccines, global summits have resumed this year with the latest two taking place in November.
The COP26 (26th Conference of the Parties) climate change summit was held in Glasgow, Scotland from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12. The summit is the United Nations’ annual conference to address global warming, climate change and steps that can be taken to prevent them.
This year, the COP26 consisted of 130 heads of state including American President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the UK, President Xi Jinping of China, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil and President Vladimir Putin of Russia. Their agenda included setting new goals to cut emissions from burning coal, oil and gas, all of which greatly contribute to global warming.
Additionally, leaders addressed the preexisting 1.5 degrees Celcius target. This target is the goal that the global temperature does not rise above 1.5 degrees C because otherwise, climate crises “such as deadly heatwaves, water shortages, crop failures and ecosystem collapse” would occur, as stated by a New York Times article about the summit. Even more alarming, “countries have less than 10 years to reduce emissions enough to keep the planet below 1.5 degrees C of warming,” the same article stated.
Monitoring the negotiations along with other climate experts and activists was Greta Thunberg, the 18-year-old Swedish climate activist who had more monumental changes in mind and was disappointed with the progress of the summit. In a video published by the BBC of the young activist talking to people demonstrating in Glasgow during the summit, Thunberg said, “this is no longer a climate conference, this is now a global north greenwash festival…a two-week-long celebration of business as usual and blah, blah, blah.” Thunberg joined thousands of people in a demonstration in Glasgow who wanted more change and awareness brought to the climate crisis.
“I believe the COP26 summit was mostly successful in making reparations to the agreements put forth in Paris in 2015 that sought to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius within the next century,” junior Maddie Meyer, who did research on the summit for Global Scholars, said. “However, I believe countries and large corporations need to make bigger commitments for a global net zero to be reached.”
As to the global impacts of the summit, “it resulted in new targets made for slowing down and preventing global warming, which if carried out successfully should greatly reduce the extreme effects of global warming that we have seen in recent months,” Meyer said.
Many challenges were present at the conference, however, as China, Australia and Russia “have failed to set new targets for cutting carbon emissions this decade or announced ones that scientists consider weak,” according to the New York Times. India and Brazil are also important nations in the global effort to curtail climate change; however, global leaders are skeptical that these countries will follow through with their pledges of increasing renewable energy and cutting carbon emissions.
In addition to the COP26 Summit, the G20 summit resumed in person this year with the 16th conference taking place in Rome, Italy from Oct. 30-31. The G20, aka the Group of 20 -19 countries plus the European Union, also addressed climate change and the 1.5 degrees Celsius warming limit. They made net 0 carbon emissions around 2050 a goal, according to a statement published in the UK newspaper, The Guardian.
Along with climate change, taxation, COVID-19 vaccines and the global economy were discussed at the G20 summit. “We will continue to sustain the recovery, avoiding any premature withdrawal of support measures, while preserving financial stability and long-term fiscal sustainability and safeguarding against downside risks and negative spillovers,” leaders of the summit said. They are also monitoring inflation and disruption in supply chains due to the pandemic.
As global warming has become an even more pressing issue with tropical storms, severe weather and droughts greatly impacting the country and the global economy remaining affected by the coronavirus pandemic, these summits serve as ways for global leaders to gather and work together to solve these issues.