Last week, the UN gathered for a summit in Glasgow, Scotland to discuss climate change’s effects and how countries can combat them. The summit is viewed as an “inflection point” in history, as it may be the last summit before the toll of climate change is irreversible. However, many are criticizing the leaders in the summit for committing insufficient resources to combating climate change, pointing out the Net-Zero 2050 goals, unreliable technology, and the global superpowers’, such as Russia’s or China’s, absences.
Net-Zero 2050 is what many are calling the current plan to combat climate change. Net-Zero 2050 essentially calls for there to beNet-Zero fossil fuels in committed countries by 2050. Now, Net-Zero as a term doesn’t mean there will be no CO2 emissions, but it means that for every ton of CO2 that is emitted, there will be another ton of CO2 that is removed from the atmosphere. There are numerous strategies countries are undergoing to take on this monumental challenge: such as using renewable energy (i.e., solar, wind, and more) or decarbonizing by planting trees and forests to capture the carbon. However, this plan has been criticized for depending on prototypical technology such as carbon capture. While carbon capture has been used to reduce carbon emissions, it has also been used by oil and gas companies in order to continue drilling for oil. Critics are also calling for governments to stop subsidizing oil, with the IMF finding that fossil fuels are being subsidized at eleven million dollars a minute.
At the same time, China’s and Russia’s absence in the summit has sparked debate and indignation. For example, President Joe Biden has publicly criticized China for failing to send a representative. He claims that China and Russia are “walking away” from a “gigantic issue”. He then further stated that President Putin has stayed “mum” while the Russian wilderness is burning. China in turn has stated that their actions are “larger than words” and cited former president Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accords. This back and forth between world powers has been seen as irresponsible and almost childish. It has also drawn attention away from the main issue. How will the US and China, two of the largest emitters in the world, reduce their carbon footprint? The argument has put into question how devoted these governments are to combating climate change.