While the Boris Johnson government congratulates itself for orchestrating the world’s first climate-neutral COP 26 climate summit, a sustainability report produced for Whitehall shows the Glasgow event was also the most polluting COP ever. And an accompanying report points to serious holes in that climate boast.
With 131,556 tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e) emissions, COP 26 generated 157% more emissions than COP 25 held in 2019 in Madrid, and 205% more than the COP 21 in Paris in 2015, “which generated just 43,000 tCO2e,” writes The Scotsman, citing the United Kingdom government’s sustainability report detailing the environmental ups and downs of the event.
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The report also found that the Glasgow COP “produced the highest ever level of greenhouse gas emissions from delegate travel, totalling 103,955 tCO2e—around 79% of the emissions total.”
The swarm of business jets that descended on Glasgow in the days leading up to the conference, and on opening day, likely contributed to this emissions burden, notes The Scotsman.
While the carbon neutrality milestone was achieved on paper, an accompanying report produced by Arup, Whitehall’s sustainability consultant for the summit, raises questions about just how much the climate benefited from an arrangement that involved a whole lot of carbon offsets (136,720 tCO2e), 40% of which arrived courtesy of an offshore tax haven of dubious credentials.
Arup found that 58,839 tCO2e of the offset total came through investing in a clean cookstove initiative in Ghana. Trouble is, the UK purchased those units via ClimateCare Limited, a Jersey-based venture whose “corporate arrangements” emerged via the 2017 Paradise Papers leak, the news report says.
“You have to ask why an organization that is supposed to be about doing good in the world needs to be based in a tax haven,” said Richard Dixon, former director of Friends of the Earth Scotland. “The UK government should have smelled something fishy and looked elsewhere.”
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