New study explores rising emissions in shadow of global climate talks – YubaNet

In November, world leaders will meet again to negotiate and discuss measures to address the global climate crisis. The question is, will COP26 in Glasgow make a difference? A recently published research article identifies the main reasons behind the world record of 30 years of failure to reduce global emissions.

“A common thread in the literature reviewed is power in its various forms,” ​​says Isak Stoddard, a doctoral student in the Department of Earth Sciences and one of the main authors of the article.

On October 31, representatives from nearly 200 countries will gather in Glasgow, Scotland for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26. On the agenda, once again, the issue of reducing carbon dioxide emissions to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, as enshrined in the 2015 Paris Agreement. , any hopes that the world could move towards phasing out fossil fuels and align with such commitments have been clouded by recent reports of rising emissions.

The reasons for the continued increase in global emissions were recently explored in a study published in the journal Annual environmental and resource review. The lead authors of the study are Isak Stoddard and Kevin Anderson, visiting professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at Uppsala University and former Zennström professor of leadership on climate change. Along with 21 other researchers, including two from Uppsala University, they searched for explanations in nine key areas of knowledge: international climate governance, the special interests of the fossil fuel industry, geopolitics and militarism, economics and financialization, mitigation modeling, energy supply. systems, inequalities, high carbon lifestyles and social imaginaries (collective images of how we might live).

Power is a common thread

The conclusion reached by the researchers is that a common, and so far marginalized, perspective lies in the central role that power has played.

“Behind the delay in emission reductions, there is everything from geopolitical, military and industrial interests and ways of thinking to the assumptions on which research and knowledge production in areas such as economics and energy are based. and the climate. This has contributed to a 60% increase in global carbon dioxide emissions since 1990, despite decades of international negotiations, research and all kinds of attempted action, ”said Isak Stoddard.

Stoddard also sees the research community as part of the problem, as its production of knowledge has served to strengthen societal structures and interests that helped create and sustain the emissions crisis.

“Researchers are part of a community that produces knowledge on climate issues. It’s about what questions we ask, and don’t ask, as researchers and how we tailor our message to what we deem possible or acceptable in our current political and economic system.

Positioning within unsustainable societal systems

Other factors that have played an important role in the emissions trajectory relate to issues of inequity, as well as bottlenecks in fossil-fuel-intensive and energy-hungry lifestyles and visions of the future.

“We can also see that a large number of actors who previously viewed the challenge of climate change as a threat to their operations have started to position themselves more proactively. While this may sound gratifying, one of the main conclusions of the article is that we need to understand climate change as part of a much larger problem and as an acute symptom of highly unsustainable, largely societal development. motivated by powerful vested interests that constantly need to be challenged, ”says Isak Stoddard.

Can we hope for better conditions for progress at COP26?
“It is certainly useful to have such discussions between countries at this level. That said, our study has shown that while there has been some criticism of the design of the United Nations Framework Convention [on Climate Change], the blockages are generally the result of strategic geopolitical considerations decided well in advance of the negotiations. The changes that we need to see must also happen from the bottom up and, of course, in different ways in all the different societies and cultures of the world. “

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