COP26 : Love it or Leaf it

By Dr. Christine Carmichael 

In our inaugural Love it or Leaf it episode, my colleague Sarah Lillie Sewell and I (Dr. Christine Carmichael) shared our opinions and takes on the latest Conference of Parties meeting (COP26) on climate change in held in Glasgow, Scotland. In particular, we focused on the vital role urban forests play in building resilient communities. 

Unfortunately, this party isn’t the Mardi Gras kind! Once a year, the countries that are playing a big role in climate change (and those who are most affected by climate change impacts) come together to develop international agreements and policies to limit climate change and its impacts. Lillie noted the historic Paris Climate Accord developed at the COP in 2015, where many countries committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions enough to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. 

Why 1.5 degrees Celsius? (…and what is that in Fahrenheit? #ImperialSystem #USA #OhTheIrony #MetricSystemMakesTooMuchSense). This benchmark was set in response to scientific consensus that increasing temperatures beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius could cause irreversible and catastrophic impacts to the environment and viability of that environment for human communities and wildlife globally.  

Given that this goal is more ambitious than having a beach body two years into a pandemic, and the increasing urgency to address climate change, the focus of the meeting in Glasgow was for countries to increase their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

So how do we Shake the Tree cohesively on this issue? How do we advance climate justice? Protestors made their voices heard outside of the COP26 meeting, putting pressure on political leaders at the conference to stop with the “blah, blah, blah” and take more action to limit climate change. Lillie pointed out that major nature groups often use permission from political leaders as an excuse to delay achieving climate justice. 

One of the major forestry commitments made at COP26 was the “Declaration on Forests and Land Use,” from countries representing approximately 85% of the world’s forests to “halt and reverse the effects of deforestation by 2030.” Importantly for climate justice, this Declaration included a $20 billion commitment through the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero. Key to the success of this financing effort is whether the funding gets to those who need it most. Let’s hope it’s not on that ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal last year! 

Listen until the end to hear our Fruit for Thought on this topic! Email us what you think at ShakeTheTreePodcast@gmail.com.