COP26: ‘Serious lessons’ to be realized as Glasgow summit proves to be probably the most polluting COP in historical past

A sustainability report produced for the UK authorities – the host of the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) – reveals it was probably the most polluting COP in historical past, producing residual greenhouse gasoline emissions totalling 131,556 tonnes of CO2e.

That isn’t solely markedly larger than the emissions forecast final November, when organisers predicted a determine of 102,500 tCO2e, nevertheless it additionally vastly outstrips the air pollution from earlier COPs. The determine is 157 per cent up on COP25, which was held in Madrid, and 205 per cent larger than the high-profile COP21 summit in Paris, which generated simply 43,000 tCO2e.

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The new report additionally confirms the Glasgow gathering produced the very best ever stage of greenhouse gasoline emissions from delegate journey, totalling 103,955 tCO2e – round 79 per cent of the emissions whole. That is roughly 2.7 tonnes for every of the 38,462 delegates – the common individual within the UK is accountable for round seven tCO2e of emissions a yr.

At the time of the summit, there was condemnation of the widespread use of personal jets by leaders and their travelling events. Some 118 completely different enterprise jets flew into Glasgow and Edinburgh airports within the days main as much as the convention, with round 50 jets touchdown on the hubs on the opening day. Some jets then flew on to Glasgow Prestwick Airport so as to park.

In a foreword to the report, Alok Sharma, the CO26 president, declared it as “an indispensable guide to future host countries and to the events industry”. He mentioned the federal government confirmed an “unprecedented” diploma of rigour in COP carbon accounting, which put the UK “at the forefront of sustainable event planning”.

But Dr Richard Dixon, the veteran environmental campaigner and marketing consultant, informed Scotland on Sunday: “Even allowing for the greater carbon cost of travel, COP26 was still very significantly more climate polluting than recent COPs.

“This is pretty hard to understand in a country where almost all of our electricity comes from renewables. Serious lessons need to be learnt from the carbon excesses of COP26.”

The COP26 summit was probably the most polluting occasion of its type, with emissions 30 per cent larger than first forecast. Picture: Phil Noble/AFP/Getty

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It comes amid mounting scrutiny of COP26’s legacy. Six months on, there may be little progress on local weather finance, and rising proof of nations turning again in the direction of coal, sparked partly by the conflict in Ukraine and the resultant power disaster.

While the gathering – the most important worldwide summit ever held within the UK – finally achieved carbon neutrality, there are additionally rising questions over how the UK authorities achieved such a normal.

An accompanying report, produced by Arup, the federal government’s sustainability marketing consultant for the occasion, reveals a significant carbon offset technique was pursued, with the federal government buying 136,720 tCO2 equal of carbon offsets throughout tasks all over the world.

Dr Richard Dixon, the previous director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, mentioned “serious lessons” needed to he realized from the “carbon excesses of COP26”: Picture Michael Gillen.

However, such initiatives have been condemned by environmental teams, who argue it’s a basically flawed strategy to reducing emissions, and can solely worsen the local weather emergency in the long term.

Friends of the Earth has mentioned the usage of carbon and nature offsets quantities to an “offloading of governmental responsibility” and a “convenient excuse” for governments, companies and people intent on avoiding probably troublesome selections.

There are additionally issues over how the UK authorities purchased its offsets. While some carbon offsets have been bought at tasks in Vietnam, Laos, Honduras, and the Pacific Ocean island nation of New Caledonia, Arup’s report notes that greater than 40 per cent of the entire – 58,839 items – went to a clear cookstove initiative within the West African nation of Ghana.

However, the UK authorities bought the items through ClimateCare Limited, an organization primarily based within the offshore tax haven of Jersey. REDD Monitor, a gaggle which investigates the usage of offsets, has identified that particulars of ClimateCare’s company preparations emerged through the 2017 Paradise Papers leak.

US president Joe Biden was amongst these world leaders to fly into Scotland for the summit.

Dr Dixon mentioned: “The UK government may have tried to get this right by using their spending to fund projects that really reduce carbon and make people’s lives better. But in one of the big purchases, from ClimateCare Limited, they may have made a mistake.

“You have to ask why an organisation that is supposed to be about doing good in the world needs to be based in a tax haven. The UK government should have smelled something fishy and looked elsewhere.”

Elsewhere, the Arup report also details some of the other significant drivers of pollution at the event. The decision to sail a cruise ship up the River Clyde and use it to provide accommodation near to the Scottish Event Campus venue had a major environmental impact, generating approximately 7,350 tCO2e of emissions.

It also shows that despite vows in the COP26 event strategy to “effectively manage waste by repurposing or recycling wherever possible”, simply 53 per cent of waste – practically 61 tonnes – within the summit’s outstanding blue zone was recycled.

The report notes that “due to circumstances beyond our control”, a change in the blue zone’s waste management contractor was required in October, just weeks before the summit got underway.

“This meant that there wasn’t as much time to engage with and work with the new contractor to make sure that recycling was the absolute priority for materials,” it adds.

A UK authorities spokesperson mentioned: “The UK is proud to have hosted COP26, the most important climate negotiations since the Paris Agreement and the largest international summit the UK has ever hosted.

“The UK was fully committed to delivering a sustainable, carbon-neutral summit and is delighted that COP26 was the first COP to achieve PAS 2060, the international standard for carbon neutrality.

“To demonstrate our commitment to sustainability, we took the decision to include a significantly larger set of indirect emission sources in our carbon reporting for COP26 than was required in order to provide a more complete picture of the carbon impacts of hosting

a COP, and a new baseline for future international events.”

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