COP26: By all means necessary

The eyes of the world are on COP26 and for good reason; the preparation in all its many forms underlines that counteracting climate change is a global undertaking, says Anna Zalewska.
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By Anna Zalewska

Anna Zalewska (PL, ECR) is a member of the European Parliament’s delegation to COP26

05 Nov 2021

Net zero at the global scale means that as a planet, we cannot emit more greenhouse gases than the Earth can absorb. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has reiterated that reducing greenhouse gases is important, but it also highlights that more is needed. The continuous and steady anthropogenic removal of atmospheric CO2 is essential to both mitigate, and begin to reverse, the adverse effects of climate change. Carbon sinks are incredibly overlooked; without them, counteracting climate change is not feasible.

Natural carbon sinks are paramount to this. It pertains to all those listed in the Land Use, Land Use Change, and Forestry (LULUCF) Regulation, currently being revised with a view to broadening its scope with enormously complex and burdensome provisions. However, with the effects of climate change already felt, the effectiveness of many of these, particularly forests, is likely to be insufficient.

“All eyes are now on China and India, the world’s first and third-largest greenhouse gas emitters - their projections for 2030 remain too high - we expect greater ambition on their part”

Therefore, we must encourage the exploration of CO2 removal techniques. Carbon Capture Storage and Utilisation (CCSU), secures greenhouse gases at source, preventing emissions, and must be supported as should other, less-explored techniques such as direct air capture and ways to mineralise and safely store sequestered carbon. However, certain Political Groups in the European Parliament are resisting these measures, which in my view is unreasonable.

Furthermore, the mismanagement of the ‘Fit for 55’ package undermines the EU’s position at COP26. EU Representatives often say that they aim for the EU’s climate policies to be used as a good example, but if the considerable shortcomings of the Fit for 55 pieces are not rectified, it will become a bad example instead.

With some 50 million EU citizens living in energy poverty, it may be less persuasive to other countries around the world that need to take increased action. Reducing energy poverty is a non-negotiable part of Fit for 55, and this will improve, not hinder, climate policy. Ideology alone will not fix the climate, and may even lead to an economic downturn, worsening the climate. 

To convince other countries to act, in particular the G20 countries, we hope that the largest economies yet to present increased short - and long-term climate ambitions will make even more ambitious emission reduction commitments.

All eyes are now on China and India, the world’s first and third-largest greenhouse gas emitters - their projections for 2030 remain too high - we expect greater ambition on their part. Climate finance is a sensitive subject, and its implementation must include provisions that ensure it is managed responsibly.

We are glad that there will be technical meetings during the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November as I consider this a vital component of actually bringing concepts to life and addressing hurdles. It must be noted that at COP26, differences between countries will be even more noticeable, and this is therefore something European Union leaders cannot ignore.

I am honoured to represent the ECR Group in the European Parliament delegation to COP 26. I will do my utmost to ensure reason and practicality are maintained as I believe these are imperative to to counteracting climate change, encouraging bold, creative and innovative solutions, as well as highlighting those elements that may be misguided and likely to prove counterproductive.