World conference sets new climate pact

COP26, the annual Conference of the Parties aimed at building cooperation among world leaders to address the climate crisis, took place earlier this month. Delegates (and protesters) came from all over the world to discuss the critical issue.

The result was an official conference of the parties climate pact that mentioned fossil fuels — the dominant cause of climate change — for the first time ever. For fossil fuels to be explicitly included in the official text is a significant win. Some other takeaways from the conference:

Not so great news:

  • A last-minute change to the draft resolution, introduced by India, watered down language on phasing out coal. The revision called for countries to phase down coal, instead of aiming to phase it out completely.
  • Current pledges are based on flawed data, according to The Washington Post. The Post investigation implies that many countries are underestimating their greenhouse gas emissions and, therefore, are not setting adequate goals.
  • The conference ended without firm commitments to properly protect vulnerable countries. The pact only urges wealthy countries — which are disproportionately responsible for global warming — to fulfill dated promises of $100 billion in annual aid to vulnerable countries.

The good news:

  • More businesses are shifting their sustainability from an add-on to a must-have. A recent blog from McKinsey, the global management consulting firm, underlines how essential it is for businesses to plan how they will achieve Net Zero.
  • A major deal on regulating carbon markets will advance cooperation among nations. COP26 addressed a challenging aspect of the Paris agreement known as Article 6, establishing an agreement to allow countries that exceed their emissions reduction goals to sell their extra progress to nations that are lagging behind.
  • More than 100 countries agreed to end deforestation by 2030, affecting roughly 85% of the world’s forests. Forests play a critical role in absorbing and storing carbon dioxide and slowing the speed of global warming.

And one takeaway specific to health care systems: Fifty countries agreed to develop climate-smart health care, committing to building resilience to climate impacts (such as extreme weather) within health systems, as well as to reducing emissions.

That commitment affirms the significance of climate change as a health challenge and health systems’ role in addressing it. The med center already is making strides toward this climate-smart future with its 2030 Net Zero Building Emissions goal.

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