By Anne T. Sulton, Ph.D., J.D.
JA Senior International Correspondent
World leaders in politics, business, and science are preparing to meet in Glasgow for the COP26 meeting set to occur from October 31 to November 12, 2021. The purpose of this meeting is to “bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change,” explains the COP26 organizers. Climate justice activists will be there too calling for leaders to quicken the pace at which planet-harming emissions are reduced.
During the past few months, many business leaders heading large multi-national corporations responsible for extracting and selling fossil fuels worldwide have pledged their companies’ commitment to the 2015 Paris Agreement and several other international accords calling for net zero planet-harming emissions by the year 2050.
For example, Shell Oil, the world’s largest producer of oil, claims its “target is to become a net-zero energy business by 2050, in step with society’s progress in achieving the goal of the UN Paris Agreement on climate change.”
BP Oil states: “Our ambition is to become a net zero company by 2050 or sooner. … Oil and gas will get smaller over time but will remain an important part of BP. … We are demonstrating that we can deliver financial returns for our investors while at the same time – step by step – transitioning BP.”
The year 2050 net zero goals identified in the Paris Agreement seemed reasonable in 2015 given the state of the science then. However, current science informs us that 2050 is too late because anticipated devastating climate changes are occurring at a pace faster than previously projected.
In other words, the current science is telling us that we must quicken the pace at which we take steps to reach net zero emissions.
The United Nations is among those organizations noting the growing international consensus to halve emissions by the year 2030. Discussions about reaching half by year 2030 seem promising – until you look at the reality.
The reality is that climate changes are occurring now and some of these changes are not reversible. The reality is that we cannot wait until the year 2030 to reach half the goal of net zero emissions.
When – by what date certain – will we follow the current science and quicken our pace toward reaching net zero emissions?