It really wasn’t supposed to happen.
The lively titled conference of the parties, this mammoth environmental, political and diplomatic party, or COP26 as it is known, was not meant to be held in the UK.
An insider told me that “the whole thing was a mistake”. Another said: “It was definitely a whim.”
When the potential Italian host seemed to hum and hum over it, the government minister at the time, Claire Perry, spotted an opportunity to grab it for the UK.
Downing Street wasn’t necessarily convinced, the Treasury was said to be even less charitable about the prospect, but an insider suggests: “A B. Johnson, then foreign minister, thought about the idea that the UK was hosting such a large event. after Brexit, it would be wonderful. ”
Glasgow was chosen because the government wanted the opportunity to “plant Union Jack and show some of the Union’s benefits” by bringing a huge international event to Scotland.
Given that the conference ended in the UK only by a twist of fate, will the government end up happy to have taken the opportunity or regret the bet?
Getting nearly 200 different countries to actually agree on anything is, politely, a difficult challenge. The choreography of such an event is dizzying. The COP meeting etiquette is unusual. Lines are likely. Strikes are possible.
COP26 Climate Summit – The Basics
- Climate change is one of the most pressing problems in the world. Governments must promise more ambitious gas cuts for warming if we are to prevent greater global temperature rises.
- The Glasgow Summit is where change could happen. You have to watch out for the promises made by the world’s biggest polluters, such as the United States and China, and whether the poorest countries are getting the support they need.
- All our lives will change. The decisions made here could impact our work, how we heat our homes, what we eat and how we travel.
Read more about the COP26 Summit here.
An insider who attended previous COP events recalls a meeting where attendees spent half an hour discussing whether to designate the particular session as “informal” or “formal” while the shouts and chants of protesters outside could be heard in the room, threatening to suffocate them.
Eager for success
This time, a source told me, there could be up to 300 delegates in the same room, all authorized to have their say. The idea of trying to reach a deal with so many people seems mind-boggling. Don’t be surprised if the first day is also spent in a huge battle to agree on the agenda.
COP is designed to be inclusive so that all participants can propose ideas or issues for discussion. It might seem like the right and correct thing to do, but it doesn’t make agreements quick or straightforward. And there will be times when it will feel like the summit is going all wrong even if the final conclusions are a triumph.
Having spotted the political opportunity a long time ago, however, the government is obviously very eager to show that the meetings end successfully.
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Let’s face it, while awareness of climate change and public concern is much higher than before, public and political understanding of all the complexities isn’t deep or broad.
An opinion polling source told me that “COP is literally not on anyone’s radar.” But within the government, there is an intense focus on what will happen and there are parameters by which ministers will measure success.
For the government, the overall goal is covered by the slogan “keep 1.5 ° C alive”, which is to get an agreement that limits the increase in world temperature to 1.5 degrees, the threshold that scientists want to prevent impacts more dangerous than climate change.
The tricky part for Boris Johnson is that, as you can imagine, it’s a lot harder than just flipping a switch.
The plan to achieve this has three main parts.
First, what does each country intend to do about climate change?
Have they promised to become “net zero” at home by the middle of the century? That is, to extract as much greenhouse gases from the atmosphere as they put in.
And thirdly, if they have committed to net zero, or on a date, or not, what are their targets for reducing emissions?
Cold and hard money
Downing Street hopes more countries will make stronger commitments before the summit starts.
If the big powerful countries that produce a lot of greenhouse gases, like China or India, have poor plans, this creates an obvious first big problem. That is why an official suggests that the most important factor in this whole discussion is “when does China’s emissions peak?”.
Then there is the question of cold, hard, money.
For years, rich and developed countries have sought to help the most vulnerable protect themselves from the worst effects of climate change and make their economies greener.
But guess what, when it comes to shelling out billions, you won’t be surprised conversations get complicated. The challenge is to understand who is responsible for what and when. In the words of an insider: “The core of COP is a closed shop where people have huge discussions about who will go first and who will pay.”
With the possibility of high stakes diplomacy faltering, Boris Johnson also wants two weeks in Glasgow to demonstrate the real progress of the world.
You may have heard the prime minister’s promise of “coal, cash, cars and trees,” and if you haven’t, you’ll hear a lot more of it in the next couple of weeks. Look forward to practical announcements on all kinds of actions that should help reduce carbon use and reduce the environmental damage of the world’s economies, be it planting trees, expanding the use of electric vehicles, or simply showcasing new technologies. .
This may be where much of the real action lies, with work like former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney trying to rewire financial systems.
And there will be a long list of cameos of the great and good of the world – be it Prince Charles, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Pope or Arnold Schwarzenegger – all urging world leaders and the public to pay attention and try to help.
Does the PM understand this?
The prime minister has a chance to build momentum at a G20 meeting in Rome this weekend by encouraging world leaders to increase their enthusiasm and perhaps their commitments.
But the cocktail of different factors that will explode along with the COP means that a fortnight of success is far from certain.
The organizers also worry about the logistical challenges of such a large event.
Keeping hundreds of people, feeding, heating and watering things when trying to get them to agree on something, they say. Insiders joke that the freezing weather that shuddered delegates at COP Copenhagen in 2009 was one factor that contributed to what was considered a miserable result.
So the COP is a political risk and an opportunity for the government. Those who worked with the premier on the issue say “he has religion”, another says that “it matters enormously” to him that the summit is a political success.
There is no question whether Mr. Johnson wants to make progress. There are nagging doubts, however, that it really encompasses every aspect of the devilishly complicated detail. An official told me: “He cares, but he doesn’t completely understand everything.”
Another climate activist wondered if, in the closing moments of the summit, the Prime Minister had the right political characteristics to salvage an agreement if he hadn’t mastered all the details, to unravel the knots that could stand in the way of the agreement.
The fears of “Greenlash”
For months, activists and even some members of the government have privately suggested that Downing Street has focused far less on the upcoming summit than was really necessary, in contrast to the French government ahead of the Paris summit in 2015.
The number 10 would counter this claim, however, pointing out that Johnson has raised the top in dozens of overseas calls for more than a year. And its COP chairman Alok Sharma has certainly burned miles in an effort to build alliances and set the stage for progress.
However, it is not the case that every minister you talk to about the summit responds with unbridled enthusiasm (although if it is a success, wait until a lot of retrospective wiggles are part of the claim of credit).
Some of Johnson’s MPs describe the whole thing as “inconsistent and elitist”, with the government’s green policy at home threatening to “crash us in the election.”
Another Tory source suggests that there is a big risk of a “green shot” by voters when the reality of environmental measures strikes, although other members of the government argue that Downing Street hopes a successful COP could in some way to improve the position of conservatives with younger voters.
Given the overall public awareness of the summit that might seem wishful thinking – remember our pollster who suggested the event had barely been noticed so far?
The Glasgow meeting is far from being the pinnacle of the UK’s and the rest of the world’s environmental ambitions. But it is an important and visible pressure point for presidents and prime ministers to show what they are willing to do on the issue of our times.
And for Boris Johnson, who loves the joy of the top, the grandeur of major international events, he hopes it is an opportunity to show that the UK can be a leader.
- Why the COP26 climate summit is important
- Simple guide to climate change
- What will climate change be like for you?
- Will the UK meet its climate targets?
Display of climatic strips courtesy of prof. Ed Hawkins and the University of Reading.
- Boris Johnson
- Climate change
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This Article is Sourced from BBC News. You can check the original article here: Source