COP26- What Happened and What's Next?

9866585899?profile=RESIZE_710xFrom October 31st to November 12th this year, the 26th annual Conference of Parties (COP26) met in Glasgow to revisit climate pledges made under the Paris Agreement in 2015. In it, countries were asked to make significant changes to keep global warming "well below" 2C over pre industrial levels- and to try to aim for 1.5C. (Many countries have pledged to keep cutting emissions until they reach net zero by the year 2050.) While half a degree celsius might not seem like a big difference, it could actually make life unbearable for millions of people through catastrophic climate events.

Conversations about emissions and climate change are usually centered around greenhouse gases, most notably carbon dioxide (CO2), which is produced by human activities like generating power and clearing forests. CO2 molecules then remain in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. Methane, however, is one of the most potent greenhouse gases and iis responsible for a third of human generated warming. Invisible and odorless, methane has 80 times more warming power over 20 years than carbon dioxide does. 

Reducing methane emissions not only buys extra time to tackle climate change, but allows for carbon dioxide reduction to be run simultaneously. Both are imperative in the grand scheme of slowing global warming down. This is why more than 100 countries pledged to cooperate more over the next decade to cut 30% of methane emissions by 2030. 

Human activity accounts for about 60% of global methane emissions annually, with about a third of that coming from the fossil fuel industry. A little under half of methane emissions come from natural sources such as wetlands. However, oil and gas production and the production, transport, and use of natural gas are the main producers of methane emissions in the United States. Methane is the principal component of the natural gas used for cooking, heating and energy generation. Under the Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will propose new regulations that will broaden and strengthen methane emissions reduction for new oil and gas facilities. 

Though many major changes need to be made by governments, scientists say that intentional changes in our lives can limit our impact on the environment. Here are 3 steps to help the environment that you can do today:

  1. Read Jim Gunshinan ’s article, Clean Cars for Contra Costa, to learn about the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s Clean Cars for All Program 
  2. Register for our next episode of Sustainability LIVE! (co presented with 350 Contra Costa)- “COP26- What Happened and What’s Next?”, an online conversation with first-person accounts from local delegates Julie Gerrish and Devin Murphy who attended the recent global climate conference in Glasgow. This event will be presented online on Sunday, December 5th at 4:00 PM.
  3. Update your household’s progress on the Cleaner Contra Costa Challenge after you complete emission reducing actions like “Take the Train or Subway” (hello, BART!) or “Participate in Demand Response

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