We have probably all, by now, seen the final agreement that was made at the very end of the conference, and the various commentaries that have accompanied this to try to make sense of it, and determine whether this is an overall positive outcome, or whether it falls short of what we were hoping for.
My own opinion lies on the side of this having fallen well short of expectations. Of course, world leaders have a difficult balance to perform. They have considerations of other factors – generally economic, and their own short term popularity - as well as climate change, and it is only in a handful of the most vulnerable nations where climate change is right now the number one priority. For others, the impacts have not become so apparent yet that they consider immediate and wholescale change to be absolutely necessary. But of course, we know that everybody needs to change immediately for the world to have any hope of limiting warming to a 1.5degree temperature rise. So we see future ambitions being discussed at length, rather than immediate commitments, and the gap between what we say we want to achieve, and our mechanisms for scaling this technology up to become a reality are miles apart.
One of my observations during COP26 was that engineering and technology did not play a central role in the proceedings. I was surprised by this, and feel that this allows for an enormous loophole in the delivery of realistic solutions. We need to move away from words and towards real and practical actions to scale up the technologies that are required, and create the new adaptation solutions that are necessary.
The commitment of the climate activists outside the walls of the conference zone were much closer to the truth and urgency of the need for climate action, but in the middle is a requirement for genuine collaboration on making progress on the scientific and engineering front to address these needs. COP26 is a conference for world leaders, and this is crucial to enable the policy landscape and funding mechanisms and commitments that will enable the change, but it should not be done in the absence of those who can actually provide the solutions, and this really is in the hands of the technolgists, as well as the general public whose behaviour changes will be necessary.
And whilst there is an urgent need to change, we must not lose sight of the business and cost saving opportunities that this change will provide. Some focus on what these opportunities are, and how they can be developed and implemented would be a useful accompaniment to COP26, in order to give some hope and leadership in the right direction, as opposed to just slowing down our journey in the current direction.
Thank you for reading these blogs, and I hope that they have been useful in giving an insight to what it was like to be part of the conference.