Averting Climate Catastrophe: Collaboration, Care & COP26

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From 31 October to 12 November 2021 the UK is hosting the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, which has brought together representatives from around the world to accelerate progress towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. With the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlighting the pace and scale of climate change there is widespread agreement that this may be the last opportunity to avert irreversible, catastrophic damage to global ecosystems.

On Tuesday 26 October 2021 Charlotte Von Bulow and Professor Richard Bolden from the Bristol Leadership & Change Centre hosted an online discussion with two of their visiting faculty members Charlene Collison and Professor Jonathan Gosling to discuss the opportunities and challenges of COP26 in securing real progress on climate change.

In her opening thought starter, Charlene Collison set the scene by stating ‘This is the COP where the rubber hits the road’, going on to explain that despite knowing that we need radical change for decades, more than half of all CO2 emissions have been emitted in the past 30 years, and we’ve emitted as much in the past 12 years as we did between 1750 and 1971.

We know that staying within (or close to) the 1.5 C budget requires dramatic emissions reductions – requiring change across all societal systems – but most of the emission pathways that see us remain under 1.5 C emit more than the budget would allow, but make up for it with the large-scale use of negative emissions in the future. There’s a gap between 2030 commitments and net zero by 2050 and we haven’t really worked out how to close it.

In Jonathan Gosling’s thought starter, he framed the question ‘Are the expectations I’d like to have of the leaders in Glasgow at all realistic?’ going on to explain the competing interests like employability and stability, and the likely disruption and feeling of collapse we will experience as citizens. However, we hope that the leaders will come together to provide frameworks to make the changes needed. But what do we need to do to make this the most likely outcome? Jonathan explained that this is going to be an engagement with our leaders, and that as citizens we need to be engaging in ways which are less demanding of salvation and more recognising an adaptive interchange and negotiation that’s going to have to take place.

The event continued with a number of questions proposed to Charlene and Jonathan;

  • What are the implications for the decisions that will be made at COP for leaders in business and civil society? What will it mean for what they need to and can do?
  • Why is collaboration so essential to staying within – or as close as possible – to 1.5 degrees? What are the challenges and opportunities to collaboration? What are the implications for leaders?
  • The role of care – assuming stewardship of our global future. What does it mean and why is this essential?
  • What are our summary recommendations to leaders in the context of what might, or might not, be achieved at COP?

To find out their thoughts on the questions above and watch the full event, please click the button below.

Bristol Leadership & Change Centre will be hosting a post-COP discussion on Wednesday 8th December 2021 from 16:00 – 17:30 GMT

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