This week, the UK’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson contradicted Kermit the Frog’s assertion that ‘It’s not easy being green’. In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 22 September, he declared that COP26 must be a ‘turning point for humanity.
He likened humanity to a 16 year-old, saying “We believe that someone else will clear up the mess we make, because that is what someone else has always done.” But he went on to say “My friends, the adolescence of humanity is coming to an end.”, and that “It is time for us to listen to the warnings of the scientists”.
As someone who was a climate sceptic, Mr Johnson admitted that his opinions had changed in recent years, saying, “the facts change and people change their minds.”
In the same week, analysis from City Hall has shown that around one fifth of London’s schools are now susceptible to flooding. A quarter of the capital’s railway stations, along with around 200,000 homes and businesses are at high risk of flooding if extreme temperatures and flooding worsen as expected in the coming years. London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has recommitted the city to going zero-carbon by 2030. Speaking yesterday, he launched a campaign to inspire individuals, businesses and communities in London to take action against climate change.
On Tuesday 21 September, China’s President Xi Jinping committed China to not building any new coal-fired energy projects in other countries. His pledge came exactly a year after China’s commitment to becoming climate neutral by 2060.
There was good news for developing countries, as it was predicted that by 2022, richer countries would be providing at least $100 billion a year to help them tackle the climate crisis. If it happens, the funding target will have been reached two years late - a pledge to be providing £100 billion by 2020 was made by rich countries in 2009, but it is a positive development that the money to help will soon be there. US President Joe Biden gave the fund a major boost on Tuesday, doubling America’s climate finance to $11.4 billion a year by 2025.
And today, climate strikes are taking place in over 1,400 locations across the globe, bringing together young people from around the world in a protest against inaction on climate change. It’s the first global climate strike by young people since the coronavirus pandemic struck and comes just a few weeks before COP26 is set to begin in Glasgow.
The protests come even as a recent United Nations report showed that current pledges for carbon emissions reductions across the planet will lead to a 16% rise in emissions by 2030. If we are to keep global temperature increases below 1.5C, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that emissions need to be halved by 2030.
There is a clear disconnect at the moment between what the world’s governments are offering in terms of emissions reduction and where we need to get to. Young people want their governments to take notice and to realise that it’s not enough just to talk about reducing emissions. Action needs to be taken. Let’s hope that a clear path to that better future is revealed in Glasgow in a few weeks…