a COP26, the climate conference held in the Scottish city of Glasgow this month, was presented as the last chance to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
After two weeks of intense negotiations, nearly 200 countries present at COP26, the United Nations conference on climate change, signed on Saturday (13/11) (a). Agreement to try to ensure compliance with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
But in addition to agreements and photo opportunities, what do countries really need to do to tackle climate change?
1. Keep fossil fuels in the ground
Burning fossil fuels such as oil, gas and especially coal releases carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, trapping heat and raising global temperatures.
It is an issue that must be addressed at the government level so that the increase in temperature is limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius – a level considered a gateway to dangerous climate change.
However, many major countries rely on coal – How do AustraliaAnd United StateAnd China NS India – Refusal to sign an agreement at the conference with the aim of gradually eliminating the source of energy in the coming decades.
2. Reduce methane emissions
A recent United Nations report (HIM-HER-IT) suggested that reducing methane emissions could make an important contribution to combating planetary emergencies.
A large amount of methane is released from so-called flaring – the burning of natural gas during oil extraction – and can be stopped with technical solutions.
It is also important to find better ways to dispose of waste because landfills are another great source of methane.
At COP26, Nearly 100 countries have agreed to cut methane emissions, in the agreement led by the European Union. The Global Methane Pledge aims to reduce methane emissions by 30% compared to 2020 levels.
3. Shift to renewable energy
Electricity and heat generation contribute more to global emissions than any economic sector.
Transforming the global energy system, now dependent on fossil fuels, into one dominated by clean technology — a process known as decarbonization — is critical to achieving current climate goals.
Wind and solar energy will need to dominate the energy matrix by 2050 if countries are to achieve their net zero emissions targets.
However, there are challenges.
Less wind means less electricity generation, but better battery technology can help us store excess energy from renewable sources, ready to be fired when needed.
4. Stop using petrol and diesel
We will also need to change the way we fuel the vehicles we use to get around on land, sea and air.
Leaving petrol and diesel cars behind and adopting electric cars will be critical.
Trucks and buses can run on hydrogen fuel, which is ideally produced from renewable energy.
Scientists are working on new, cleaner fuels for planes, although activists are also calling on people to reduce the number of flights they take.
A United Nations report in 2018 stated that to have a realistic chance of keeping global temperature rise below 1.5°C, we would have to remove carbon dioxide from the air.
Forests are superior at absorbing them from the atmosphere – which is why activists and scientists are emphasizing the need to protect the natural world by reducing deforestation.
Mass tree planting programs are seen as a way to offset carbon dioxide emissions.
Trees are likely to be important as countries struggle to achieve their zero-emission targets, because once emissions are reduced as much as possible, remaining emissions can be ‘offset’ by carbon sinks such as forests.
6. Remove greenhouse gases from the air
Emerging technologies that artificially remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or prevent its release in the first place, could play a role.
A number of direct air capture facilities are under development, including those built by Carbon Engineering in Texas and Climeworks in Switzerland.
These machines work by using huge fans to suck air into a chemical filter that absorbs carbon dioxide.
Another method is carbon capture and storage, which captures emissions at “point sources” where they are produced, such as coal-fired power plants. The carbon dioxide is then buried deep in the earth.
However, the technology is expensive – and controversial, because critics view it as helping to sustain dependence on fossil fuels.
7. Helping the poorest countries financially
At the Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen in 2009, rich countries pledged $100 billion (R$550 billion) in financing by 2020 to help developing countries combat and adapt to climate change.
The deadline was not met, although the UK government, which holds the COP presidency, recently drafted a plan to put the funding into effect by 2023.
Many coal-dependent countries face severe energy shortages that jeopardize their recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and disproportionately affect the poor.
These factors prevent them from moving away from polluting industries.
Some experts believe that the poorest countries will need continued financial support to help them move toward greener energy.
For example, the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom recently committed $8.5 billion (R$46 billion) to help South Africa phase out coal use.
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