The Herald: Iain Macwhirter: Reasons to be cheerful about COP26

„There has been a lot of negativity about the COP26 climate summit, which kicks off in Glasgow a week today. Hardly surprising, with China boycotting it, petro-states frantically lobbying to reduce targets and nonsense being talked here about heat pumps which just inflame voter cynicism. There will be a lot of corporate mischief on the sidelines, a lot of fudging and obfuscation and a vast expenditure of hot air. One of the biggest rows will not be about greenhouse gases at all, but the paucity of Covid vaccines for developing countries. […] But before we dissolve into negativity and reach for the bottle, it’s worth remembering that the last big climate summit, in Paris in 2015, also failed to deliver. It too was supposed to agree legally-binding emissions targets, but only agreed, after frantic late-night horse-trading, on a legal obligation to report on emissions targets. There was no actual requirement to meet them. Donald Trump’s departure from the Paris Treaty was thus ineffably stupid since it didn’t actually commit America to anything concrete. But most economists still regard Paris as a success, if only because it concentrated the minds of politicians and accelerated a shift from fossil fuels that was beginning to gain momentum in the 2010s. The International Energy Agency believes that the recent spectacular reductions in the wholesale cost of renewable energy, especially offshore wind and solar, are down to Paris and the signals it sent to investors.“