"What shall we expect from COP26?"
The global climate conference, after being sidelined for a year by COVID-19, is happening again beginning this week, this time in Glasgow, Scotland.
The virus remains a presence to contend with even as political and business leaders, negotiators, diplomats, activists and many other groups gather in person to hammer out doable solutions to the problem of global warming.
Science has established that unless mankind acts collectively now, the effects of climate change will be progressively, acutely felt in the days to come. In fact, vulnerable populations in certain places on Earth — including the Philippines — have been feeling the effects of frequently erratic weather patterns, melting ice caps, scarcity in food, catastrophic forest fires, and many more such climate events.
Six years ago, the world achieved a milestone with the Paris Agreement, where nations declared their intention to curb greenhouse gas emissions to the extent that the rise in global temperature would be limited to 2 degrees Celsius. Nations both developed and developing agreed on the need for collective action, taking into consideration historical responsibility, current economic activity, financing capability and vulnerability of certain populations.
But six years has been a long time, and since then many things have happened in many countries: Some have reneged on their commitments and even disassociated themselves from the agreement, while some have been tentative about delivering on their nationally determined contributions. Yet others have remained obstinate about keeping their emissions down, insisting that the current dire situation is less of their own making than it is other developed nations.
And then there are those who use clever financing techniques to hide the fact that they proclaim one thing and do another.
What will be different this time?
We can only hope that participants in the high-profile conference, armed with their individual and collective experiences of COVID-19, will be more decisive, more specific, more committed and more forthright, knowing first-hand how it is to come face to face with an existential threat.
Alas, while the world has discovered vaccines to combat this virus and is slowly learning to live with it, there is just no quick preventive measure against climate change. We, too, will find it extremely difficult to live with the effects of a warming planet — that is, if it even allows us to continue living as we know it, in the first place.