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Few of the COP26 attendees have as much to gain from the emerging low-carbon economy as Pat Brown, the founder of California-based plant-based meat group Impossible Foods. And few are prepared to speak so candidly about the challenges the world will face in this transition.
When we met for coffee at a Glasgow hotel yesterday, Brown said he shared the frustration of young activists like Mitzi Jonelle Tan and Dominika Lasota, who featured on Moral Money last week.
âIt’s their future,â said Brown, 67. “People of my generation are like, ‘By the time this bites our butt, we’ll be dead.’
Brown, whose company is projecting a $ 10 billion inflow, said he wanted plant-based meat substitutes to make the U.S. beef industry completely obsolete by 2035. In a new scientific paper, the Longtime scholar is exploring how converting animals back from pasture to forests could have a powerful and rapid impact on slowing global warming.
To help drive this and other much-needed changes, Brown said, an efficient global carbon market was needed. But he saw little progress in this direction at COP26 – including addressing what he sees as the precarious state of the carbon offsetting industry, which is used by a growing number of large companies.
âRight now, any scammer can create and sell carbon credits,â Brown said. “This makes the value of this system approximately zero.”
Serious action on setting standards for an efficient carbon market is, according to Brown, just one of many uncomfortable challenges that are being dodged by powerful political and business leaders in Glasgow this month. âTheir main goal at the COP is to come out as undisturbed as possible,â said Brown. “What is needed is drastic and rapid change.”
Read on to find out Gillian’s take on progress – or lack thereof – towards this change in week one of COP26, and what to watch out for in week two. Simon mundy
Days 5-7 at a glance
About 100,000 demonstrators took part in a climate march on Saturday, which the police described as “good-natured” despite 22 arrests.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged delegates to seek “bold compromises and ambitious commitments,” while his environment minister said the country was considering imposing a carbon tax on imports.
Barack Obama arrived in Glasgow last night, ahead of an expected address at the summit today.
Subject of discussion
Do you feel safe from the COP? After a week of intense discussions – and protests – in Glasgow, some participants might whisper “yes”. Especially since we are now dodging the dark Scottish drizzle. But last week produced some important news: an agreement to reduce the use of coal (albeit watered down, and without major players such as China, the United States and Australia); an agreement to reduce methane emissions; commitments on deforestation; and the announcement of a $ 130 billion private capital alliance for decarbonization.
All of these developments will spark more debate this week, as the devil will be in the green detail of these promises. But also keep an eye out for these five issues:
1. Carbon offsets
Over the past year, financial luminaries such as Standard Chartered Bank Managing Director Bill Winters and former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney have been pushing to make the carbon offsets market more credible. . This is absolutely necessary as the industry faces serious questions about its suitability and the corporate world will have to use it to have any chance of reaching net zero. Its success will depend in part on the ability of countries to agree this week on a UN plan to create a uniform global market for the exchange of offsets, in accordance with Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. on climate change. Look at this closely.
2. Carbon pricing
As COP26 approached, a coherent global approach to carbon pricing and taxes seemed out of the question as Joe Biden’s US administration dragged its feet for domestic political reasons. But after listening to the conversations in Glasgow, it’s clear that there is broad support – and growing support – for the idea. It was also first highlighted in a recent G20 statement. Watch this conversation, because (if nothing else) it might give a hint of more substantive discussions at the next COP.
3. Cars, planes, boats and more
Transportation is the order of the day in the middle of the week, as are the mining and industrial sectors. Watch this for clues as to what’s driving the investment trends out there.
4. Government decarbonisation commitments
The final agreement on the various national emission reductions is still under negotiation and may not see the light of day before the end of COP26 on Friday. Progress was made last week, with a set of countries agreeing to cut coal use. The Energy Transitions Commission estimates that the commitments made so far will reduce annual emissions by 9 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide each year by 2030 (exceed this level), and China and the United States continue to make fewer emission reduction promises than activists (and scientists) would like.
Emerging countries expressed fury last week that rich countries failed to honor an earlier pledge this year to provide $ 100 billion in decarbonization assistance per year by 2025. Rich countries say they will do so after 2023 and the British government has tried to soften the blow by highlighting the net zero commitments of a new alliance of large financial groups with $ 130 billion in assets. But no one really knows what will happen to this $ 100 billion pledge when it expires in 2025. It’s also unclear how this $ 130 billion pledge will play out. The situation is like someone plugging a final destination into the GPS, waiting for the route to appear on the screen.
Quote of the day
There are more delegates to COP26 who work for or represent the fossil fuel industry than any country, the BBC reported.
Global Witness found that 503 people with ties to fossil fuel interests had been accredited for the climate summit.
“The presence of hundreds of people paid to defend the toxic interests of polluting fossil fuel companies will only increase the skepticism of climate activists who see these talks as further evidence of the hesitations and delays of world leaders,” said Murray Worthy, gas campaign manager. chef at Global Witness. âWe don’t have time to be sidetracked by greenwashing or trivial business promises that don’t match the delivery. It is time for politicians to show that they really want to end the influence of big polluters.
Beyond Glasgow: The Worldview
Finally, after months of bickering, America’s landmark infrastructure bill is over, leaving many Washington Democrats hungry for something green to chew on next.
US leaders will try to give COP26 a final blow this week with the presence of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former President Barack Obama. These List A participants arrive in Glasgow days after Congress voted to adopt President Joe Biden’s $ 1.2 billion infrastructure package.
The bill is seen as an aperitif for the larger ‘Build Better’ package, which will devote more funds to climate-specific projects. On Sunday, the White House immediately began to advocate for the next dish on the menu.
“What comes to mind is the fact that the Build Back Better plan that we talked about has the biggest investment in American history to get us to a clean energy economy, to create millions. jobs in this country by moving forward towards sustainable development, renewable energies, âWhite House chief of staff Ron Klain said on Meet the press on Sunday.
âPresident Biden was in Glasgow,â Klain said. âThe presidents of Russia and China were not. We will lead the world in the fight against climate change. We will pass this bill and have the tools to do so.
But it’s easier said than done. Moderate Democrats are reluctant to put billions more in federal spending, especially after the party suffered losses in local elections this month.
“The responsible thing to do when you get a bill like this is to do a full analysis and understand the impact on your district and the families in your district,” Democratic Congressman Josh Gottheimer said Sunday. on CNN.
COP26 may be a long way off, but it reverberates in Washington. Climate protesters gathered outside Capitol Hill for a hunger strike to pressure Senator Joe Manchin and other moderate Democrats to act on climate legislation.
It remains to be seen how the continued pressure on recalcitrant Democrats will affect them. The Biden team has reason to be optimistic. The pressure could force moderates to agree on anything, however small, so that the climate control they face wears off in 2022. Democrats will want to present a united front to voters ahead of the midterm elections in 12 months. Food for thought. Patrick Temple-Ouest
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