Lessons and Takeaways from COP26
COP26 sought to strengthen efforts to fight climate change. In a panel themed, “Implementing COP26 Commitments” at the BERC Energy Summit 2022
, participants, including Anthropocene’s Chief Scientist, Frank Hiroshi Ling, discussed actions we can take to mitigate climate change — a crucial topic because time is running out. The panel included moderator Dr. Meg Mills-Novoa
, Assistant Professor in the UC Berkeley Dept of Environmental Science, Policy & Management; as well as panelists Frank Ling; Kate Cullen
, UC Berkeley PhD student in Energy & Resources; and California Senator Josh Becker
. Ideas from COP26 for meeting climate goals
The panelists started by providing their unique perspectives on what can be done. One idea posed by Dr. Ling: repurpose coal plants with small modular reactors (SMRs), a promising strategy because coal is the biggest source of carbon emissions, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Kate Cullen commented that COP26 had more of a focus on water and the intersection of sustainable development goals, water, water justice, climate justice, and climate action.
Senator Becker highlighted the need to support both technology and organizational innovations and get students involved at the state and national level. Although California is making progress (the state has reduced carbon emissions by 20% while growing its economy 60%), Becker attended COP26 to glean best practices from other countries and cities around topics such as transportation and offshore wind that can be applied in California. Achievements and disappointments
The panelists were frustrated with the lack of progress considering the severity of climate impacts shown at COP26. In terms of achievement, COP keeps countries talking and negotiating, regardless of what’s going on in the world — including discussion of the ongoing use of fossil fuels. Additional hopeful signs were the discussions of promising technologies, ways of moving forward together, and the fact that almost 90% of the world’s major powers participated and many made commitments to ending the sale of gas-powered vehicles.
Despite these promising signs, we’re still not on track to meet our goals. We must take stronger action with a lot more speed and urgency across all sectors, from transportation to greening the grid. We must educate more people about ways to understand and get involved in solving the climate crisis. And we must both adapt and mitigate to reach our goals.