UN climate talks delayed one year by COVID-19

air pollution

International climate negotiations will be delayed by a full year because of the coronavirus pandemic, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the UK government announced May 28. The next summit, officially dubbed the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), was due to take place this November in Glasgow, but has now been put off to November 2021. Delaying the talks could encourage governments, industrial concerns and financial institutions to adopt recovery plans with high climate costs. The postponement is particularly critical given the failure of last year’s summit, held in Madrid, to reach any agreement. Instead, critical decisions were put off for COP26. This means a full two years will have passed before any progress can be made. (STV)

Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, the energy and environment minister for Costa Rica, was among those pressing to hold the summit earlier than a full year after originally scheduled. “We’re losing time,” he told the New York Times. “If there are no strings attached to international aid and national recovery plans we may be in a very difficult spot. Having a COP soon would help influence global recovery plans.”

Ominously, the postponement comes just a week after temperatures as high as 86 degrees Fahrenheit were reported above the Arctic Circle. The record-breaking temperatures in the Arctic Sea north of Russia and across much of northern Siberia were reported by the Finnish Meteorological Institute. The loss of sea ice, already at alarming levels, also escalated, with ice cover in the Kara Sea taking the deepest May decline ever recorded. (Gizmodo)

The Kara Sea, a western arm of the Arctic Sea, is itself slated for oil exploitation by Russian interests—with access perversely facilitated by the loss of sea ice.

Extremely depressed oil prices as a result of the pandemic have brought the industry to a virtual stand-still—but an industry bail-out is being considered in the guise of a recovery measure. In Canada, Alberta’s energy minister Sonya Savage even suggested exploiting the pandemic to get the Trans Mountain pipeline built while protests are effectively banned.  The pipeline, the focus of protest by Indigenous peoples and their allies, would bring shale oil from Alberta’s tar sands fields over the Rockies to ports in British Columbia.

Photo: Ralf Vetterle, Pixabay

  1. Arctic heatwave breaks record

    Alarming heat scorched Siberia on June 20 as the small town of Verkhoyansk (67.5°N latitude) reached 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, 32 degrees above the normal high temperature. If verified, this is likely the hottest temperature ever recorded in Siberia and also the hottest temperature ever recorded north of the Arctic Circle, which begins at 66.5°N. (CBS News) High temperatures in Siberia have lead to multiple wildfires this year, with more than 680,000 acres destroyed in the Sakha Republic alone. (Daily News)

  2. Study rules out less severe global warming scenarios

    A new study by NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies and Columbia University finds that the most likely range of global warming from doubling carbon dioxide is between 4.1 to 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit (2.3 and 4.5 degrees Celsius), which would trigger irreversible damage to the planet. (WaPo)