With ‘coal, cars, cash and trees’, 1.5 degree of warming stays within range

“Coal, Cars, cash and trees”, coal, cars, money and trees. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson repeats his mantra regularly these days, including today at the Glasgow Climate Conference. He refers to the measures necessary to warm up the world by no more than 1.5 degrees.

Johnson believes that countries should make firm commitments about a green industrial revolution, with clean energy and electric vehicles. He also believes that they should close the gap between what has previously been promised in financial support for developing countries and the money that is now available. And in addition, countries must ensure that deforestation stops as soon as possible.

The day in Glasgow started today with long lines of people outside the climate summit. Thousands of participants had to wait before they could enter, to submit to strict safety measures. The waiting period increased to a few hours. Long lines were also waiting inside. All luggage was checked, some were searched and had to take off their shoes. It was also checked that people could show a negative covid test result.

‘Deciding Decade’

After Johnson, this afternoon it was the turn of dozens of other heads of state or government to give their speech. Many eyes were on US President Biden‘s. Because this is the first climate summit that the US will join again, after Donald Trump withdrew the country from the Parisian agreement. Biden stressed that the US is not only back, but also wants to be at the forefront of tackling climate change.

He also said that it is still possible to prevent the Earth from warming by more than 1.5 degrees. But then, according to Biden, this must be the decade of truth. He called it a “decisive decade” because “the eyes of history are on us”.

Prime Minister Rutte also gave a speech. He addressed the heavy rainfall in Limburg, Belgium and Germany, which led to floods last summer. It was an illustration of the current reality of the climate, said Rutte. In contrast to journalists, the Prime Minister acknowledged that the Netherlands has talked too long about climate plans and did too little. But, according to him, the time of just talking is now really over. “We have to move from the blah, blah, blah to action,” he also responded to questions from foreign media.

Pay Price

Several countries made new announcements. For example, Indian Prime Minister Modi announced that he wants to achieve net zero emissions in 2070, which is much later than other big ejectors, but according to Modi, India is acting ‘in the spirits‘ of previous promises. Brazil announced its intention to cut emissions by half from 2005 in 2030, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promised to make an additional five billion dollars to tackle climate change.

Von der Leyen also said that as far as she is concerned, there will be a global market for CO2 rights. “Countries should set a price on the emissions of carbon dioxide that warms the Earth,” she said. According to her, a robust framework of rules must be agreed on. Put a price on it, she said, because “nature can’t afford that price anymore.”

In Glasgow, an attempt is being made to agree on rules to create such a market indeed. This is an issue that has arisen in recent years, and even after the last climate conference in Madrid in 2019, this issue was not resolved.

Dinner with young people

Tonight, Prime Minister Rutte will join a dinner with about twenty young people. Not all of them come from the Netherlands, but also from Africa and South America, among others. “Young people have good ideas and also have a great interest in a good climate approach,” says Dutch UN youngster Aoife Fleming.

“That‘s why it’s really important that we are listened carefully,” she says. “Because those who have to live with it later are not the ones who make the decisions now.”

Tomorrow will follow another day of speeches by Heads of State and Government. And after tomorrow, the real negotiation work will begin, which will last almost two more weeks.