COP26 became a topic on everybody’s lips in late 2021 among government agencies, private organizations, and even the general public.
COP26, or the 26th Session of the Conference of the Parties, was a conference where nations exchange information and work together to combat global environmental and climate issues. Postponed in 2020 due to COVID-19, COP26 was held in November 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland and attended by almost 200 member nations.
One of the key topics at COP26 was to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C, a goal of the Paris Agreement, adopted at COP21 in 2015, which requires each country to establish nationally determined contribution plans and present revised plans at the conference every five years. COP26 marked the first time for every nation to present their policies that would contribute to the global collaboration towards a bigger goal of achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
Summary of COP26: From National Policies to Public Implementation
At COP26, global climate change policies and goals were jointly formulated for implementation in each country.
The four goals set were (1) secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach, (2) adapt to protect communities and natural habitats, (3) mobilize finance from developed countries to assist the other member nations towards the goals for the world, and (4) work together across all sectors in society.
Achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 begins with the conservation of forests, which are indispensable to the existence of eco-systems and the sequestration of carbon dioxide that would otherwise be released to the atmosphere. Every country, thus, has the duty to protect and restore its forest and put an end to deforestation, with financial assistance from developed countries such as Japan to reduce carbon emissions in Asia.
As methane is another major greenhouse gas, the United States of America and the European Commission announced the Global Methane Pledge to reduce methane emissions by 30% from the 2020 levels. Methane is generated primarily by the industrial sector, especially from power production in the oil and gas sectors.
Thailand’s Goal towards Sustainability
At COP26, Thailand also announced its own goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and net-zero by 2065. Carbon neutrality is achieved when the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from production or transportation is completely offset to zero through forestation, which increases areas that can serve as carbon sinks, or production adjustment for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve this, it is necessary for all sectors in Thailand to look back to its own organization or industry and find a suitable management approach.
The net-zero goal, however, will prove even more challenging as it involves a major transformation that takes into account all direct and indirect emissions across the value chain from the upstream process of production all the way to the downstream processes of consumption and management of post-consumer waste in order to achieve maximum results.
Of course, all of these changes cannot take place in the blink of an eye but will take not only time but also the cooperation of everyone in changing their mindset on consumption and production as well as national policies that lend support to entrepreneurs and the general public. With these in place, Thailand will be equipped to make green changes and work alongside other nations around the world to sustainably preserve this world for posterity.