“Keeping 1.5°C alive” – “Keeping the one and a half degree goal of the Paris climate agreement alive” – that was the most important motto of the COP26 in Glasgow. The fact that this motto is necessary shows that we as humanity have almost missed being able to stop the warming of the earth at 1.5 degrees – a temperature level that would avoid the worst effects on humans and nature.
With great difficulty, almost 200 countries have agreed on a final declaration that just barely does justice to the motto. The core is a passage in which the countries call on themselves to strengthen their climate protection plans by the next climate conference in a year’s time so that they can still make the one and a half degree target possible.
Skepticism is appropriate
As of today, the world is on a course towards 2.4 degrees of warming. The countries would therefore have to reduce massively more CO2 than they had previously planned. According to scientific analyses, this also applies to Switzerland.
Some countries have improved their plans for Glasgow. And there were also a number of other initiatives that contribute to climate protection. For example, numerous countries have announced that they will reduce emissions of the important greenhouse gas methane. The end of the internal combustion engine has also been given a date, at least in some states.
How likely is it that the countries will now quickly improve? Skepticism is appropriate, because the large gap in climate protection has been known for a long time. And actually, according to the Paris Agreement, the countries were required to close this gap now.
Even more responsibility
These are good developments, but they only close a quarter of the gap. Further progress is possible in the coming year. But many countries are unlikely to make any further improvements to the measures they have only recently strengthened.
Multilateral climate protection is once again only making small steps forward, although large leaps would be necessary. This isn’t surprising, but it puts even more responsibility on everyone to do what needs to be done instead: businesses, communities, each and every one of us.
Thomas Häusler is a science editor at SRF. He has a doctorate in biochemistry and completed further training in water management at the University of Geneva. Since 2013 he has been head of the science department.