A Farewell to Copitalism - reflections on COP26
Brendan Montague editor 'Ecologist' magazine and online 12 November 2021
The COP26 conference has failed to usher in a new era where capital is constrained to prevent catastrophic climate breakdown.
The future was supposed to be copitalism: a new global economic paradigm where national governments work together through the United Nations (UN) Conference of the Parties (COP) process to limit emissions and prevent runaway climate breakdown - while leaving capitalism otherwise intact.
The climate conferences have taken place annually for a quarter of a century. The aim is to negotiate global emissions targets that will be translated into national policies. The high-water mark was the Paris Agreement of COP21 when the worlds’ leaders agreed to limit global heating to 1.5C.
The mechanism agreed was "nationally determined contributions" (NDCs). This means national governments are responsible for submitting commitments to cut emissions to the UN. The COP process is also supposed to include a “ratchet mechanism” where those government commitments are made increasingly ambitious.
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