Starting Sunday, world leaders and international media will head to Glasgow, Scotland for COP26, the most important climate talks since 2015 when countries around the world agreed to avoid two degrees Celsius of warming and committed to dramatically reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.
Here’s what to know as the talks begin:
- The stakes for the planet are huge. Under today’s policies, the planet is on track to warm by 3°C, which would be truly catastrophic. Current promises, if kept, put warming at 2.4°C – still way too hot. So countries must come to Scotland with tough new reduction targets to avoid more deadly heat, rising seas, and worsening drought.
- The stakes for President Biden and the U.S. are also significant. To restore America’s credibility on climate, the Biden administration is showing up in full force. But a critical climate provision has reportedly been stripped from the Democrats’ major spending and tax bill in Congress, and now the U.S. is in danger of missing our new climate goals. President Biden is fond of saying that “America is back,” but failure to cobble together a credible backup climate plan before COP26 ends would deliver another serious blow to America’s international credibility.
- Don’t fall for the win/lose rhetoric in the news. The dynamics are very complicated, and there are many metrics of success and failure. For example, will China and India step up their ambition? Can we end coal power for good? Will the wealthiest countries most responsible for climate change help poorer ones finance green projects?