Glasgow climate deal falls far short and our children and grandchildren will pay the price

YORK DISPATCH EDITORIAL BOARD
  • The Glasgow climate pact is being hailed as a good compromise.
  • Many scientists, however, say the deal falls short of what is necessary.
  • Those scientists are predicting a much different, and much warmer, Earth.
FILE - A thermometer records just below 100 degrees in a north Seattle neighborhood Wednesday afternoon, July 29, 2009, approaching record highs. While world leaders hail the 2021 Glasgow climate pact as a good compromise that keeps a key temperature limit alive, scientists are much more skeptical. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

It’s time to stop kicking the can down the road.

At some point, our world leaders must show the fortitude to do what’s necessary to effectively combat the climate crisis.

Unfortunately, that time is not now.

That was sadly proven again over the weekend when world leaders and negotiators hailed the Glasgow climate pact as a good compromise that keeps a key temperature limit alive.

Well, truth be told, the new climate agreement falls woefully short of what truly needs to be done to provide a safe and nurturing environment for our children and grandchildren.

Just ask the many environmental scientists who are wondering what planet these leaders are looking at. After crunching the numbers, those scientists see a quite different, and markedly warmer, Earth.

'Watered-down hope': Experts wanted more from climate pact

Greta Thunberg, the young environmental activist who has gained worldwide acclaim, may have said it best when she described the Glasgow deal as so much “blah, blah, blah.”

The 1.5-degree goal: The overarching global goal in recent years has been limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times.

After the Glasgow deal, many scientists are now highly skeptical that is possible. The earth, they say, is still on a clear path to exceed 2 degrees (3.6 Fahrenheit).

“The 1.5C goal was already on life support before Glasgow and now it’s about time to declare it dead,” Princeton University climate scientist Michael Oppenheim said.

The 1.5 number, although it doesn’t sound like a serious increase, is vitally important because a 2018 scientific report found dramatically worse effects on the world environment after 1.5 degrees of warming. What’s truly alarming is that the world has already warmed 1.1 degrees (2 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial time.

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"Warming will by far exceed 2 degrees Celsius,” German researcher Hans-Otto Portner warned. “This development threatens nature, human life, livelihoods, habitats and also prosperity.”

Tiny tweaks, but no major reform: Instead of major changes in bending the temperature curve, the Glasgow deal produced only tiny tweaks, according to scientists who run computer simulations.

One particularly concerning part of the Glasgow deal came on Saturday, when China and India pushed through a last-minute change to the pact: Instead of the “phase out” of coal and fossil fuel subsidies, the subsidies are to be “phased down.” Several of the scientists said that regardless of what the deal says, coal needs to end, not just decrease, to lessen future warming.

Minimal progress: Yes, some minimal progress was made in Glasgow.

The United States and China, two longtime adversaries and two of the world's biggest polluters, have agreed to work harder together to cut emissions this decade.

There were also separate multi-nation agreements that target methane emissions and coal-fired power. After six years of failure, a market-based mechanism would kick-start trading credits that reduce carbon in the air.

Total package isn’t nearly enough: Taken as a total package, however, there wasn’t nearly enough progress made in Glasgow to ward off the gathering environmental storm.

It’s become abundantly clear that the major world leaders are more concerned about protecting the fossil fuel industries for short-term economic stability, rather than making the tough decisions necessary to maintain a sustainable planet over the long term.

It’s a decision that will likely have dire consequences for the generations to come.