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COP26: The ongoing fight against fossil fuels, from the Northern to the Southern hemisphere

The decade of 2011-2020 has been categorized as the hottest ever observed and the past 6 years since 2015 have broken every record. In 2020, the global average temperature was about 14,9°C, or 1.2°C above the pre-industrial level (1850-2000). Such intense heat waves have led to the most intense wildfire season in the last 18 years, followed by an accelerated disappearance of the Arctic ice pack.

The main cause, amongst others, of the occurrence of such alarming events, are fossil fuels emissions. Indeed, during COP26, some major engagements were adopted by the main economic powers of the globe. The first of them is an agreement to accelerate the exit from the coal industry. Central polluting powers, such as Canada, have reviewed their engagement, agreeing to give up the use of coal to produce electricity by 2030 instead of their previous target, 2049. Poorer states have an extra 10 years to achieve this coal-free production system objective.

A total of twenty-five countries and five public banks, including major financers of fossil fuels such as the United States, Canada or the United Kingdom, have collectively engaged themselves to put an end to their international public investments in fossil fuels, starting at the end of 2022. Their funding will be reoriented towards renewable energies.

These two measures are a great step towards the common goal of limiting the planet’s global warming to 1,5°C by the end of the decade. Nevertheless, to fully achieve it, all countries should immediately stop their production of fossil resources. Although, according to the principle of differentiation, efforts required from the country to fight against global warming should differ according to their historical responsibility in it, as well as their level of development. Countries of the South believe the Northern hemisphere have an ecological debt to them and thus, should put more efforts and sacrifices in this commitment . Although northern countries, despite committing to giving states alongside others, money to develop their green infrastructure and tech, do not entirely share this though. They believe that China or India are as big of a polluter today as the USA or Canada. The principle of differentiation remains a matter of tension amid climatic negotiations during the course of this COP26.

Violette Lafarge

References :

Audrey Garric, “2020 was one of the three warmest years on record”, Le Monde, 14/01/2021.

Le Monde, “COP2, Day 4: several commitments on fossil fuels, main causes of global warming”, 04/11/2021

Le Monde, “COP2, Day 3: carbon neutrality, private jets, access restrictions… what to remember about this day”, 03/11/2021

Cécil Ducourtieux ,“An Alliance to end international financing of fossil fuels”, 05/11/2021

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