Glasgow's Riverside Project

The eyes of the World are fixed on Glasgow, now hosting the COP 26 Climate Talks! The Riverside Project. Photo Andy Luck, copyright Visit Scotland 2015.

Climate change is hurting us, but the world is rallying to respond appropriately.

by Charles Paxton

The city of Glasgow is currently hosting the 2021 global Climate Conference (COP 26) and the parties that comprise this conference are working hard to meet the hopes and allay the fears of the whole world.  Vast forest fires, stronger storms, faster and deeper floods and surprise freezes have impacted many parts of the world directly, and many more indirectly. Anyone with access to the news has witnessed increasing damage from more frequent and more destructive weather-related catastrophes and there is no doubt now that climate change presents a significant threat to the well-being of humans and wildlife alike.

Good news from COP 26 is accumulating! A hundred and twenty-eight countries are committing to the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forest and Land Use this represents over 33.7 million square kilometres of forests needing protection according to this digest article by Euronews which states “The pledge is supported by nearly €16.5 billion of public (€10.3bn) and private (€6.24bn) money. The public finance comes from 12 countries, including the UK, set to be provided between 2021-2025.” This is a massively important initiative! Thank you to all involved!

It is greatly encouraging to see some of the world’s wisest heads and most powerful political, scientific and business leaders engaging in the process of building a better future. Global leaders have pledged to reduce methane emissions by 30% over the next decade!

The official website puts it best perhaps:

Leaders made clear that climate change is a global problem. The world is welcoming in a new era of economic and political partnership with climate action at its heart. The task of the decade will be to deliver the finance, resources and tools to rapidly deliver climate action at scale.

The Prime Minister of the UK, Boris Johnson, and COP President, Alok Sharma, called on leaders to empower negotiators to deliver an outcome that responds to the best available science and the demands of people the world over, to urgently accelerate climate action and ensure that finance is flowing to support this transition, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable.  (Source COP26 Presidency Summary)

Personally, I am very glad that the United States of America is back in the fight against climate change, we need all hands to the pump. Watch Gina McCarthy explaining how the US is planning to reduce its most potent warming emissions, HFCs and Methane in this video.  Louisiana will play a strong part, aiming to reduce carbon emissions by 30-40% by 2030 and to be Carbon Net Zero by 2050. Carbon Net Zero is the term used to describe a system that balances carbon production with consumption, effectively producing no new accumulation of atmospheric carbon.

Louisiana Governor Edwards said in his presentation at COP26 “… You know, all of our states are different, and we’ve all been effected by climate change but I would make the case that no state has been as adversely affected by climate change than the State of Louisiana. We’ve had in 14 months, 5 major hurricanes making landfall within our state. Two of them, one last year and another one in August this year, two of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded making landfall in Louisiana.” Along with flooding and tornadoes, Louisiana has lost 2000 square miles of coastline in the past 50 years he says, and ” If we don’t do anything we’re going to lose another 1800 square miles of coast. I can bring this full circle by saying that every acre of coastal marsh will sequester as much carbon as 80 acres of forest.” He says losing coastline is thus a double loss as it also removes the buffer between our populations and the Gulf of Mexico and that is why we have an absolute need for climate change mitigation. He also says Louisiana is the only state in the nation where more than half of our C02 emissions don’t come from power generation, they come from industrial and chemical manufacturing and refineries. He sees Louisiana leading in this space and great potential in working with other states to reduce these emissions.

In a press release October 14th “Gov. John Bel Edwards and Air Products’ Chairman, President and CEO Seifi Ghasemi announced Air Products will develop a $4.5 billion clean energy complex near Burnside in Ascension Parish. This will also be the world’s largest permanent carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration endeavor to date. Air Products will construct a blue hydrogen manufacturing complex to produce more than 750 million standard cubic feet per day of blue hydrogen (click here to see the spectrum of hydrogen production), with carbon dioxide from the manufacturing process captured and permanently sequestered.

With Louisiana’s vast matrix of pipe-lines, he sees great opportunities to reduce the escape of Methane, that’s 80 times more powerful a warming gas than CO2 . By securing this system and plugging 4,600 orphan gas wells government and industry will be doing much to reduce the more potent warming emissions.

The Governor stressed the need for multiple solutions: Methane reduction, Carbon sequestration, phasing out a coal power station and building renewable energy resources. Coupled with the expansion and interconnection of protected areas, I think we have a real chance of turning things around.

I’m impressed from what I’ve learned so far from COP 26! Thank you all in Glasgow.