The COP26—the 26th Conference of the Parties to the Convention—brings together leaders from 196 nations and thousands of observer organizations, to detail national climate action commitments, settle on operational rules for cooperative emissions reduction, and mobilize unprecedented levels of climate-related finance. The result must be a mainstreaming of science-based pathways to zero emissions economies by mid-century, on schedule to avoid more than 1.5ºC of global heating.
To get there, a few key areas of climate action need to be worked out:
- All nations must agree that they will fully decarbonize their economies by 2050.
- “Cooperative implementation” must align with 50% reductions in overall global heating emissions by 2030.
- Science-based financial decision-making must have clear pathways to becoming the mainstream reality.
- Food systems, ecosystem restoration, clean watershed services, and climate-smart agriculture, all need to become part of the mitigation, adaptation, and resilience program of every country.
- Forward progress must be reinforced by science-based trade policy, opening opportunity for climate-smart practices and reducing the market for destructive practices.
At Citizens’ Climate International, we recognize the need for active, ongoing citizen participation in the design and implementation of climate policies. We must acknowledge the direct impact of climate threats and costs to basic and universal human rights and the critical judicial precedent of several nations’ supreme courts recognizing that climate protection is a human right.
When we talk about energy systems, climate science, and national policy, we often overlook the degree to which universal human rights are structural imperatives that should shape all of these. Progress toward recognition of climate rights will be instrumental for providing clarity, structure, direction, and momentum for innovation, across all sectors.
To connect needed areas of action to specific capabilities, Citizens’ Climate International comes to the COP26 negotiations with a focus on the following areas of action:
- Civics and public participation
- Pollution pricing
- Climate-smart finance
- Nature, from summit to sea
- Food systems
On Civics and Participation: We see regular, ongoing engagement of citizens, communities, and stakeholders in both the design and deployment of climate solutions, as critical for securing high ambition and efficient implementation.
On Pollution Pricing: We support establishment of a global “price floor”, supported by national policies to impose a steadily intensifying price signal disfavoring climate pollution. As the IEA has reported, “There is no need for investment in new fossil fuel supply…” Pricing systems should effectively and efficiently eliminate climate pollution while building incomes for people and enhancing international cooperation for a zero-emissions future.
On Finance: We support the goal of not only mainstreaming climate-smart finance, but achieving a world in which no money generates climate damage. Public, private, and multilateral finance must rapidly shift into alignment with a zero-emissions future; the fiscal stability of nations must be measured against this science-informed imperative. Climate-smart finance must integrate complex, rapidly evolving Earth systems science data, and foster a decentralized landscape of innovation, Nature-positive production, and resilience-building everyday actions.
On Nature: We take note of the need for much more robust national and cooperative international integration of a Summit to Sea resilience value approach. We need to value, invest to sustain, and safeguard a healthy cryosphere, feeding healthy watersheds and land-based ecosystems, sustaining biodiversity, and preventing harm to ocean life and to the climate chemistry of our ocean. On Nature: We take note of the need for much more robust national and cooperative international integration of a Summit to Sea resilience value approach. We need to value, invest to sustain, and safeguard a healthy cryosphere, feeding healthy watersheds and land-based ecosystems, sustaining biodiversity, and preventing harm to ocean life and to the climate chemistry of our ocean.
Food Systems integrate many of the above areas of action. Without a healthy crysophere, stable climate patterns, reliable rainfall, resilient watersheds, ecosystems, and biodiversity, food security is not achievable. Climate action driven by food systems transformation will require regenerative farming and other sustainable land management practices, new kinds of finance, decentralized multisystem data integration, and pollution pricing linked to Nature-positive production.
The COVID, climate, and biodiversity crises together put clear light on the value of solidarity. Solidarity among people, and between nations and generations, and with Nature, is not only an emotional, cultural, or political preference. Recognizing that human and natural systems, our everyday wellbeing, the security of nations, and the livability of the world we leave to future generations, are all part of One Health is already visible as the defining insight of our moment.
The COP26 needs to send the signal that this urgent need for solidarity is recognized by the community of nations. That signal must be reinforced by coordinated, high-ambition climate action, and by the mobilization of unprecedented financial resources. We don’t need to make money out of thin air; we just need it to be realigned. We need to stop funding destruction and start investing in health and resilience.