It's day four of COP26. The two-week conference of the parties (COP) has already provided some thought-provoking, engaging, and, quite honestly, at times downright bizarre moments (see Big Nessie's dawn raid below).
So What are Some Highlights of COP26?
1. Children Abseil Down Glasgow Bridge to Protest Climate Change
We already know that children alive today will see and experience the effects of climate change within their lifetime. Young people (Greta Thunberg, for example) are using their voices to speak environmental truth to power. Kiwi and Zozo are two more names to add to an impressive roster of young climate protestors: Kiwi and Zozo.
On Monday, the German siblings, aged 12 and 10, abseiled off Glasgow's Clyde Arc (known locally as Squinty Bridge). Both are experienced climbers and protesters, and they hung a banner reading 'humanity is failing'. Several police vans attended the scene, as did the coastguard. After being assisted off the bridge, the children's parents were arrested.
It's not the first time they've protested on behalf of climate change, and when speaking about their daring abseil, Kiwi referenced the UN's 2021 IPCC report that called climate change a red alert for humanity. The Scotsman newspaper reports his sister Zozo as saying "humanity is failing. We are failing to accept the reality of the climate crisis." You can watch the video of their abseil on The Scotsman's website. Both children were safe and well after the protest. No doubt they will continue to protest in years to come.
2. UK and India Launch Initiative to Accelerate the Transition to a Clean Energy World
It might sound like a mouthful, but the Green Grids – One Sun One World One Grid (GGI-OSOWOG) is a joint UK-Indian initiative to speed up the adoption of clean energy technology worldwide. Connecting power grids, including 'mini grids' and 'off-grid solutions', ensures everyone has access to energy.
Decarbonising the global economy is a vital element in achieving targets set by the Paris Agreement to keep global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees.
According to a document released at COP26, "The GGI-OSOWOG will help make this happen by bringing together a global coalition of energy grid stakeholders, including governments and businesses, to accelerate the expansion of energy grids across regions and continents and create the foundations for universal access to sustainable energy. This will ensure the infrastructure is in place for the whole world to be powered by renewable energy, as part of the global push to realise the clean energy transition".
Eighty countries are backing the initiative, which is heartening. It's particularly close to our hearts at Energym; we've launched the RE:GEN, the world's first electricity-generating indoor bike. We're excited by the potential of human power as a source of clean energy.
3. Giant Loch Ness Monster Inflatable Confiscated by Police
Plans by a debt charity to float a giant Loch Ness Monster inflatable down Glasgow's River Clyde backfired when Scottish Police confiscated it during a dawn raid. Campaigners were using it to highlight climate debt on COP26's finance day. Wealthier nations are among the most significant contributors of climate change, whilst smaller countries often struggle to fight against related issues because of unsustainable debt. They're also more likely to be hit by extreme weather or climate-related disasters and then expected to pay for reconstruction.
Eva Watkins, Head of Jubilee Debt Campaign, told the Herald Scotland: "Rich polluting countries created the climate crisis and should take responsibility by cancelling the debts of countries that need it and ensuring climate finance is given in grants, not more loans." Police seized the inflatable Nessie at Glasgow's Govan Dry Dock under Section 20 of the Police and Fire Reform Act.
4. 1 Billion Euros to Protect the World's Forests
The EU is launching a 5-year support package to help 'protect, restore and sustainably manage' worldwide forests to deliver on the Paris Agreement. Forests are vital for the world's health. They also absorb about 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. The Woodland Trust website writes that "woods and forests absorb atmospheric carbon and lock it up for centuries. They do this through photosynthesis." It comes after 100 countries (including the EU) agreed to end deforestation by 2030. The New Scientist details that this new plan, signed by several countries, now includes countries that were missing last time, including Brazil, one of the biggest deforestation offenders. According to an AP report, the agreement was hailed by Britain as "the first big achievement of the conference".
5. South Africa Given $8.5 billion to Decarbonise
According to CNN, around 90% of South Africa's power is generated by coal. It's one of the world's most significant contributors of greenhouse gas emissions. But there's good news. South Africa announced at COP26 that it is receiving $8.5 billion to explore other energy generation methods. It's the first time an agreement like this has taken place. Countries are realising that global warming has to be a collaborative effort. Wealthier nations must expect to provide financial support to the developing world.
The US, UK, and EU members states, including France and Germany, are funding the project. It's part of a move to help the developing world shift away from carbon-intensive and coal-based activity. Such cases present several unique issues, including South Africa's state-owned utility 'Eskom' currently holds more than $27 billion in debt. Another challenge is that local populations may rely on jobs provided by the coal industry. In the case of South Africa, it’s undoubtedly true.
The BBC also reports that the coal-fired power stations are also creating public health issues. Some people living in the townships opposite the coal mines and power stations will likely develop health issues, including asthma. Balancing what's good for the planet, what's good for people's health and considering local economies make it a challenging prospect.
There have been some positive announcements at COP26 and some very dedicated protestors. While many global leaders have now left Glasgow, international delegations are still negotiating. We'll keep you updated on further developments.
We're Energym, a UK-based fitness tech company that designs and develops electricity-generating indoor bikes. Find out more about the RE:GEN for your home or how our our technology could help your gym reduce its carbon footprint and energy bills.