Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Will the 26th UN hosted COP26 truly be one step closer to achieving the Paris Agreement’s Goals?

Written by Associate Editor: Haley Carson

As countries are still struggling to tackle major climate change issues (such as carbon emissions, endangered species animal preservation, and more), major players in the environmental crisis are attending the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (“COP26”). The event is being hosted by the United Kingdom alongside their partner, Italy. Notably, the goals of the major impactors are not as progressive as the world is hoping for.

For example, Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has not officially committed to any official reductions of global emissions besides the 26-28% projection during the Paris climate conference back in 2015. Although the pandemic has hit countries differently, it appears Australia is turning inward in their efforts to help manage their “rural and regional” portions of Australia. They have claimed to support a large effort in the past of “previous reforms” and want to take time to focus on their own country and economy. However, the world was hoping for a more forward-thinking approach considering Australia is the world’s largest exporter of liquified natural gas and coal. Furthermore, Australia is a major contributor to greenhouse gases by their heavy dependence on a coal-powered infrastructure.

Also of importance, it appears China’s President Xi Jinping will not be physically present at the conference but instead will be attending through video streaming. His virtual attendance at events has become precedent, as he has not left China since the pandemic first started. This is concerning for other attendees of the conference considering China is the world’s number one leader in greenhouse gas emissions. 

Even Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain has reservations about key players who are “talking the talk but not walking the walk.” Her grandson, Prince William, has also expressed his annoyance with some of the world’s most influential millionaires who are diverting their funds towards space travel rather than environmental struggles.

Thus, while there is a lot of discussion concerning the inevitable and pressing environmental crisis, there seems to be a lot of ambivalent players in the game. Hopefully, the major impacting countries will deliver strong recommendations and plans of action. Ultimately, the world hopes that true progress will come to fruition during this essential conference on the global climate disaster. 

Rod McGuirk, Australian prime minister will attend Glasgow climate talks, Associated Press (Oct. 15, 2021), available at https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/australian-prime-minister-attend-glasgow-climate-talks-80596460 (last visited Oct. 15, 2021).

China’s Xi will not attend COP26 in person, UK PM Johnson told -The Times, Reuters (Oct. 15, 2021), available at https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/chinas-xi-snub-cop26-uk-pm-johnson-told-times-2021-10-15/ (last visited Oct. 15, 2021).

Khadija Kothia, Prince William: Before travelling to space, save the planet, Associated Press (Oct. 14, 2021), available at https://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/prince-william-travelling-space-save-planet-80578262 (last visited Oct. 15, 2021).

26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, https://ukcop26.org/ (last visited Oct. 16, 2021).