Reducing emissions seems like the most obvious policy and yet it has met so much resistance, even as far back as the Rio Earth Summit nearly 30 years ago. This unwillingness to act has been true for all of us in wealthier nations right up until today when greenhouse gas emissions are at 50 billion tonnes per annum and still growing.
We know we have to move to zero emissions but is the COP26 summit fit for purpose? Sir David King tackles this question:
I am going to answer this question in a slightly roundabout way. The setting up of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group (CCAG) is an attempt to see that we have an agile capability to respond to current situations.
We set up the group and we have these extreme weather events around the Northern hemisphere, it gave us a wonderful opportunity to show that we can do climate reporting in real-time.
The old systems are not agile
The United Nations process is very rigorous, and I admire the way they do it, but it is actually the opposite. It is not an agile process. The CCAG will produce monthly reports of this kind going into the future, but the IPCC simply can’t do that. It has to get the ratification of all of the member states. The same applies to UNFCCC and this feeds straight into the effectiveness of COP26.
4000 negotiators for one deal?
The processes of COP26 are so laborious. Imagine the situation where you have 197 countries represented. On average, each country is represented by 20 officials, which means, that we have almost 4000 people trying to negotiate a deal over a two-week period. And, believe me, what actually happens, particularly in the first week when there seems to be no hurry anywhere, people make wonderful speeches, repeating what they have been saying for the last 10 years. There is no sense of urgency in the procedure by which the operation takes place.
A Security Council for Climate Change
In the UN there is also a security council. I believe, and this is a new idea, that we need a Security Council for Climate Change. A UN-based Security Council should be led by a person of real stature who is recognised around the world to be totally committed to action on climate change but also, in a fair and equitable way.
If we had this sort of organisation, a Security Council with perhaps no more than 20 members who could meet without having to have a big following or gathering of ten thousand or thirty thousand people, I think we could manage it.
We have got a crisis on our hands
We got a crisis on our hands, the sub-heading of this report is “a Global State of an Emergency” and we are not using these words lightly. I believe we have got five years to put in place everything that needs to be done.
This includes reducing the emissions, removing the greenhouse gases that are already there, repairing the Arctic Circle Region. We need to get on and find how can we manage it, it’s got to be done carefully but we need to do it quickly.
We need universities to put their research effort in, we need the finance to operate this. It needs to be treated as a global emergency. Because our future as a civilisation depends on the rapid response to the situation.
Download the report: https://www.ccag.earth/s/CCAG-Extreme-Weather.pdf
About the author: Sir David King writes and speaks regularly on climate change and is also the founder and chair of the Centre for Climate Repair in Cambridge and the Climate Crisis Advisory Group (CCAG). He also held the post of Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Government among others.