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COP26 ended on 12th November 2021 and having been in the media spotlight for the past few months, it’s now time to reflect on what was agreed and its consequences.
A renewed sense of optimism surrounding the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, a refreshed commitment by energy companies to invest in long-term sustainable energy production and government commitment towards building a robust and environmentally friendly global energy industry are all key talking points within the energy sector.
However, is it all just words with little to no action?
COP26 saw the attendance of some of the biggest fossil fuel producers in the world. However, there appeared to be major differences in opinion on how to approach tackling climate change and the pace at which it needed to be done.
The European company, BP, made it clear that they were becoming a ‘greening’ company, which means that they are trying to rapidly transition to renewable energy. On the contrary, American fossil fuel producers had opposing views. Gazprom Neft, an American oil and gas company, argued that a drastic shift to renewable energy can be done but at a significant cost to consumers. In addition, they argued that the significant reliance on oil and gas was too great for a tectonic shift to renewable energy.
To an extent, Gazprom Neft’s points are valid, as the political sentiment that a few minor lifestyle changes would somehow solve climate change, is simply nonsense. To effectively tackle this problem on a global level would require radical change in all our lives. One would need to change their diet, clothing, reduce the amount of air travel, purchase renewable consumables (which are expensive) and change the average temperature of homes. These measures are not easy to enforce and despite a strong urge to fight climate change on a conceptual level, pragmatically it becomes very difficult. It is possible to reconcile the differing opinions.
Both opinions accept that there is an issue and that fossil fuel production is not sustainable and is environmentally damaging. Also, they accept that tackling climate change requires a shift to renewable energy production and the encouragement of lifestyle changes.
COP26 has been successful to an extent as it has provoked discussion within the industry which ultimately will provoke action.
COP26 was the 2021 United Nations climate change conference.
By Kiran Banerjee, BeComAware Student Ambassador and LLB Law Student at the University of Warwick.
All BeComAware content is reviewed and approved by industry professionals.