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Year of COP-26 What Can We Expect

Solar homes in 2021

COP stands for Conference of the Parties and is an international conference due in November 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. Many have seen it as the possible last chance to prevent uncontrollable climate change from running out of control. It will be attended by representatives of over 200 countries who initially signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) back in 1993.

Those involved are not limited to world leaders and politicians; action groups, charities, scientific experts, and NGOs all have a sizeable presence among those attending; we can see a more comprehensive list of those attending here.

Although the conference is the big item in climate news, a lot is going on; we cannot discuss the potential agreement without looking at many of the peripheral events and issues. Here is what we expect to see going on throughout this year, and we look forward to the future.

Problems in 2021: A Summer Like No Other

2021 has been an extremely challenging year in terms of climate change and environmental issues. We have seen some of the worst weather, smashing all the records we didn’t want to see broken. Look at the extent of the wildfires we have seen worldwide; California and Australia have seen a massive increase in the usual level of issues.

We have witnessed temperature records smashed in Canada by almost 5C, way beyond any reasonable predictions. Floods in Western Europe have wreaked havoc resulting in hundreds of deaths. We have even seen the Amazon basin being recorded as emitting more carbon than it absorbs for the first time in history.

Carbon Market Rules

One of the most significant discussion points at this year’s upcoming conference is the one surrounding Carbon trading rules. Simply put, each nation will be awarded a certain amount of carbon credits; this will detail how much carbon they can emit into the atmosphere.

Each year the level of carbon permitted through these rules will be reduced, allowing the plant to collectively ease itself away from dependence on fossil fuels and other polluting activities. There are a few contentious issues connected to this scheme. Firstly, how are these quotas going to be worked out? There will inevitably be some politics involved, and coming up with a system that suits everyone will be challenging.

Secondly, what carbon can be traded within the scheme? It has been proposed by some that historic emissions may be used, and this has stirred some stiff opposition in some quarters. Finally, it has been criticised as, over time, it may benefit the rich nations as they will buy the credits of the poorer countries as they develop alternative technologies and then leave the poorer nations even further behind.

What Can We Do?

But other than hope our leaders do the right thing and make an agreement that will work, are there solutions we can implement as individuals? As far as possible, we can try and use technologies that are low carbon-emitting, or zero-carbon. Electric cars are becoming more affordable all the time, and even given the higher purchase cost, the savings in fuel costs will more than make up for it over the lifespan of the vehicle. We can also look at changing our energy to renewable power.

We can change our electricity provider, or even better look at installing our own solar or wind power. Check out these solar incentives in Oregon that make solar panels extremely affordable. We can also be mindful of how much plastic we use; specifically single-use plastics. These plastics present numerous problems; they are produced from oil, they stay in the environment for thousands of years, and cause unacceptable amounts of damage to wildlife.

Technological Solutions to Climate Changes

Could environmental engineering provide the answers that changing our behaviors might not? It may be that the answer to this question is a hesitant yes, but there are many factors and potential complications that may prove tricky to navigate.

Will solutions such as carbon capture from the environment or using mirrors to reflect solar energy back into space be the answer?

Will they work at all, or even work too much by cooling the planet to an excessive degree?

Final thought

There are ethical and legal considerations as well; can one nation legally engineer the environment that will have a global impact, even if the intentions are benevolent? Hopefully, we can change our ways to avoid these answers as prevention is always better than cure and hope our leaders can reach an agreement.

Article written by:

I am a writer and reporter for the clean energy sector, I cover climate change issues, new clean technologies, sustainability and green cars. Danny Ovy

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