The fate of the planet will be negotiated in Glasgow, Scotland

“Under the Paris agreement, every country is required to publish a climate change target and a route for getting there, or what’s called a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). The first round of NDCs put forward in 2015 were clearly inadequate, putting the world on course for roughly 2.7°C of warming by the end of the century.

Climate leaders hoped that in the runup to COP26, countries would roll out new commitments for the coming decade, as well as long-term strategies for eliminating emissions by the middle of the century. As of October 21, 114 countries and the European Union have submitted new NDCs. Some major emitters like the US, United Kingdom, and China have proposed or submitted stronger targets. But others, like Russia, Brazil, and Australia, did not meaningfully ramp up their goals. Still others like India have yet to submit a new NDC.

The leaders at COP26 will try to create carrots and sticks to motivate the laggards and holdouts to take more aggressive action. Many countries are now adamant that the limit for warming this century should be 1.5°C, now that many countries have already suffered the tolls of disasters worsened by climate change — a sign that 2°C of warming would be far worse.”

“The core injustice of climate change is that the people who contributed least to the problem stand to suffer the most.”

“a key part of the discussion at COP26 will be around how to compensate countries facing the impacts of climate change today, from rising sea levels eroding shores to more devastating extreme weather.”

“The US has the dubious distinction of being the only country to complete a 360-degree turn on the Paris agreement. It helped convene the accord in 2015, yet former President Trump withdrew the US in 2020. President Biden signed an executive order in January to rejoin and the US was formally back in the Paris accord in February.

Since the US is the wealthiest country in the world and the largest historical emitter of greenhouse gases, it plays a prominent role in climate negotiations and has an even greater obligation to act on the crisis. At COP26, the US not only has to make up for lost time, it also has to rebuild trust with other countries and show that it’s willing to be more ambitious.”

When the world actually solved an environmental crisis

“In 1985, atmospheric scientists in Antarctica noticed something troubling. For decades, they’d been measuring the thickness of the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere, the layer of gas that deflects much of the sun’s radiation. Starting in the 1970s, it had started plummeting. By the mid-1980s, they observed that it was on track to be wiped out in the next few decades.

Their discovery was cause for worldwide alarm and unprecedented action. In short order, the international community marshaled its resources — scientific, economic, diplomatic — to mount a campaign to ban the chemical that caused the damage, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and to restore the ozone layer.

Fast-forward to today: The ozone is on the path to recovery, if not fully restored. That progress hasn’t been without setbacks. The ozone hole is shrinking on average, but some years are bad ones — the hole was notably larger in 2020, following a 2019 when it was unusually small. Researchers have also raised suspicions that the rate at which atmospheric CFCs are falling suggests not all signatories to a treaty banning new production of CFCs are abiding by the agreement. And there have been unintended consequences in phasing out CFCs with a different chemical that has hurt our fight against climate change (more on this below).

But the damage we wrought last century has been reversed. Even with the complications and caveats, the world’s response to the ozone crisis should be seen as an instructive, even inspiring, success story — one that can perhaps inform our response to the climate crisis.”