Charlie Cooper was formerly Media Relations Manager at Fauna & Flora International
This week marks six months since the the COP26 UN climate summit. Time flies. When world leaders descended on Glasgow, climate change was top of the international agenda. Since then, it fills fewer front pages; perhaps understandably, as the intervening months have seen Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and all its dire consequences. But has any progress been made in the climate fight since COP26? And have governments stuck to the pledges they made on climate and nature? Reporters and commentators have been keeping tabs and this week’s nature news round-up includes some of their best coverage:
In the Guardian, Fiona Harvey takes the UK government’s COP26 slogan (“cash, coal, cars and trees”) and assesses progress or lack thereof in each area since the summit. Quick summary: cash: climate finance target still not met; coal: in danger of going backwards, partly because of the war; cars: getting bumpy as supply slips; trees: deforestation in Brazil breaking records again. All in all, not great news.
Nearly 400 square miles (1,000 square kilometers) of Amazon rainforest was destroyed in April alone. Credit: Jeremy Holden/Fauna & Flora International
Not surprising then that the UK’s COP26 President Alok Sharma told world leaders this week they need to do more to honour their Glasgow commitments. “We need every nation to pick up the pace. We need every leader to show that their words were not hollow,” he told BBC Scotland. The BBC’s Climate Editor Justin Rowlatt says there is concern that “climate promises will be put on the backburner while leaders deal with immediate crises” including the war and soaring food and energy costs.
Concern about energy security is also driving many countries to think again about their plans to transition away from fossil fuels, intensifying investment in the sector at the very moment the world needs to be changing track if UN climate goals are to be achieved. Last week Damian Carrington and Matthew Taylor in the Guardian reported on the major fossil fuel companies’ plans for no fewer than 195 oil or gas projects that will result in more than one billion tonnes of CO2 emissions in their lifetime – so-called ‘carbon bombs’.
With all that bad news for the climate, might COP26’s immediate successor, COP27 in Egypt, revitalise efforts? Don’t count on it. Adam Vaughan reports in New Scientist that not a single country has yet delivered on its COP26 pledge to “revisit and strengthen” their emissions reduction plans by 2030. True, it’s early days, but it is looking unlikely that Sharm el-Sheikh 2022 will represent a major staging post for another leap forward on climate.
Without stronger climate action plans, the goal of keeping rising global temperatures under 1.5°C will be unattainable. Credit: Annamaria Lehoczky / Fauna & Flora International
Elsewhere, well worth reading this extraordinary story, also in the Guardian, by Vincent Mundy, about the flooding of the Irpin River basin by Ukrainian forces, who deliberately opened a dam to flood a vast swathe of territory, thus slowing the Russian advance on Kyiv earlier this year. Conservationists are holding out hope that the wetland, which used to be one of Ukraine’s most important biodiversity hotspots, might be allowed to remain in place for the long term.
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