Map Monday: COP26, outcomes, a few maps and lots of charts

As of this past weekend, the much anticipated COP26 has wrapped up its deliberations.  Wrapped up are the presentations, pleas, protests, political posturing, and final compromise agreement.  Sorry, folks, but compromises and grand talk with insufficient action is too little, too late.  We’re prevaricating at our peril.

Something approaching 200 countries participated in these gatherings, consuming vast quantities of fossil-fuel burning conveyances to get there and back.  The President of the United States, who proudly proclaimed that American leadership on tackling climate change was back, brought with him 85 limousines and a few helicopters – all brought by plane – because, hey, security is important.  Not a reassuring start.

Tens of thousands of people came together in one place in the middle of a pandemic – I won’t go into whether that was a sound idea or not – because most of them understood that the world must address the multiple causes of climate change now.  Not because it’s a nice idea, although it is.  Not because the world has nothing else to worry about; we know it does.  No, it’s because if we do not address it NOW we won’t have a world left in a few generations.  At least not one in which human beings can exist. This is the ultimate definition of an existential crisis. When will we wrap our heads around that?

While we’re waiting to self-annihilate – because, hey, jobs (and profits) in the fossil fuel industries are at stake – we can watch as the sea rises and wipes out entire island nations.  We can watch while more and more wildfires burn out of control, destroying more homes, towns, forests, and even Arctic tundra.  We can watch while some parts of the world experience historic droughts and others experience historic flooding, over and over and over again.  We can watch increased worldwide migration from people who, through no fault of their own, are no longer able to survive in their native lands because it is too hot, the water has dried up, and food can no longer grow there. Or it’s been swallowed up by the sea. Climate refugees.  All because our political and business leaders haven’t had the intestinal fortitude to do what’s been staring us in the face for several years now. They’ve refused – or have been unable – to take the necessary long view, and now it’s become the short view.  We must change the way we do many, many things.  NOW.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the excellent political satirist The Out And Abouter, he summed up his view of the COP26 final agreement in this tweet today:

OutAndAbouter

There’s a reason why the hard-working president of COP26, Alok Sharma, became emotional  as he presented the final, disappointingly weakened agreement.  His tears said it all.  Let us at the very least hope that the words that have been agreed to are actioned as quickly and thoroughly as possible.  Our political and business leaders need to be walking the talk from day 1 after COP26.

And now some maps and charts that capture some of the issues.

From the Met Office of the UK government and their Human Dynamics of Climate Change project, showing expected climate changes between now and 2100. (Click on a map for more detail.):

MET-ClimateChangeMap

hdcc_map_floods

From the New York Times:

NYT-23MainCountries

NYT-TheOtherHalf

NYT-Legend
Rich countries, including the United States, Canada, Japan and much of western Europe, account for just 12 percent of the global population today but are responsible for 50 percent of all the planet-warming greenhouse gases released from fossil fuels and industry over the past 170 years. (NYTimes article)
NYT-Combination

NYT-HistoricalEmissions1

In this next chart, notice that in per capita responsibility for CO2 emissions, Australia, Canada, and the United States are not far behind Saudi Arabia in emissions per person. This must change.

NYT-CO2Emissions2020

A look at historical changes in the global temperature, from the BBC:

BBC-TempChanges

And, maybe most tellingly, according to an article in CNN online, this is the difference between what we need to accomplish and what we have agreed to:

CNN-ReductionsNeededVsAgreed

We have so much work to do on so many fronts. May the COP Conference in Egypt next year see credible steps forward from this year ahead, building aggressively on what’s been agreed to, so that COP27 starts off with a renewed sense of the possible.

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27 Responses to Map Monday: COP26, outcomes, a few maps and lots of charts

  1. OmniRunner says:

    The UK approved a new coal mine and the US sold new leases for off-shore oil drilling.
    Blah, blah, blah.
    I know we need oil in the mix until we have enough alternative energy sources but we are just moving to slow.
    As individuals we need to do our part to reduce the demand for power.
    Electric cars are not enough. We need to become more efficient and smarter about what we do.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      I know. The ongoing actions underline the hypocrisy of (most of) the leaders of the wealthy countries, including Canada, too. Ironically, corporations may end up leading the way. Let’s pray that’s the case.

  2. Thank you 😊 It’s nice, particularly the graphs, etc. Now COP27 is the next year…

  3. Here in BC, we’re going through a brutal reminder of the inaction of governments and industry over the past 40 years. Lives lost, billions in property damage, and more fear and uncertainty, over the last three days, not to mention supply chain issues that could go on for some time.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Oh, Debra, what’s happening in BC is horrific. I wish people didn’t need to experience these environmental/climate tragedies in order for the world to wake up to the enormity of climate change. I hope you are safe.

  4. debscarey says:

    I’m not used to feeling empathy with one of our government ministers, but I really did feel for Alok Sharma, as his emotion was so raw, so heartfelt, and was so missing in pretty much all the other government representatives. I was sad to see India on the list of those causing the last minute change, despite feeling a degree of understanding for their situation.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      I agree. So much of the pronouncements from govts sounded uncomfortably like govt-speak, whereas Sharma sounded like a believer, speaking from his heart about the urgency. I get where India is coming from far more than Australia. India needs help to transition. So many challenges!

  5. heimdalco says:

    This has been such a huge concern for so long now …. among people like us, people like SOME of the world leaders that feel the responsibility of stewardship to this planet & those people to whom the job of statistics falls. My heart aches & weeps with every report of a diminished / diminishing population of a species & I ask myself, “What can I do as one person?” My answer is to do exactly what you’re doing … get the word out to as many people as possible because “awareness” leads to change & “numbers” of aware people possess tremendous power. May we exercise our power while there’s still time. Thank you for this thought-provoking post.

  6. boblorentson says:

    Well said. You’re preaching to the choir here, but we definitely need a bigger, more all-inclusive, and better sounding choir.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, Bob. That’s exactly what we need, a bigger, more inclusive choir. The young people are certainly trying their best and leading the way. They need more followers – allies, if you will – from the more mature segment of the population!

  7. Inkplume says:

    Thank you for this dose of reality; we all need to hear it and act, not least of all political and corporate leaders.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, Linda. I know I have to act more diligently myself, but the hesitancy on the part of govts and the big corporations is truly disheartening. Leadership from the top is in shorter supply than I would have hoped.

  8. A few days ago, it was raining hard, and a friend observed that back in the day, this would have been a snowstorm. And so it would have. The fossil fuel companies have so much money and such a tight grip over everything that progress is incremental. The bit of bright news is that other companies and, believe it or not, banks are moving in the right direction. Will it be enough? Only time will tell.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Lol. I have to admit that I don’t miss waiting a bit longer for the first snow storm! Re the banks et al, there’s lots of speculation that it’s all just so much greenwashing. Time will tell, but if consumers vote with their feet and their money it might make a difference. The biggest auto manufacturers refused to sign on to moving to electric; let’s just hope they all lose business!

  9. Thanks Jane, so much to think about and fully agree our politicians have not met the measures we need. I became aware of climate change in the 70’s when it was known more as global warming and the impacts that were happening then where I lived in Northern Ontario. I remember seeing predictions then and noting the East Coast as being one of the better places to live!
    At times I find it can become a tad overwhelming and depressing to realize I have been a contributor to events that will impact my kids and grandkids much more so than it does me. So, with a little more knowledge, I now find myself thinking more and changing habits, like flying less, to hopefully mitigate some of the harm.

  10. Very hard hitting, Jane. Existential crisis. Your graphs and maps back up a piece I heard on CBC last week by an Indian, I believe, commentator that said, and I’m paraphrasing: first world industrialization has causes crippling environmental damage to our planet. And now as the third world is trying to catch up, we’re told by ‘you folks’ that we cannot because of the climate crisis….

    I had sympathy for his position…although the existential piece is paramount. What to do about coal?

    • Jane Fritz says:

      In a less greedy, self-serving world, the rich countries, including Canada, would step up to the plate. All our lives have to change: our economies, how we travel and don’t travel, etc. India’s one thing, what excuse does Australia have? They are refusing to give up using coal, exporting coal, or even set emission targets for themselves. And this despite seeing all kinds of serious effects of climate change in their own country. It’s hard not to despair, but despairing isn’t helpful.

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