The UN climate talks in Glasgow are launching a new industrial revolution

    21 Nov 2021

    In the 21st century, we must embody a new “green” industrial revolution that must be bigger than the previous two in the 19th and 20th centuries, says Oleg Savitsky, an expert on climate and energy policy of the Ukrainian Climate Network. Let’s check his opinion published in the European Truth.


    The international negotiations of the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change COP26 ended on November 13 in Glasgow, Scotland.

    Delegates from 197 countries agreed on crucial issues of international climate policy to limit global warming to 1.5° C relative to pre-industrial levels.

    The critical result of COP26 was the adoption of the so-called Paris rulebook. An agreement has been reached on the fundamental rules related to Article 6 on carbon markets and other international mechanisms that will ensure the full implementation of the Paris Agreement.

    This will provide certainty and predictability to both market and non-market approaches to implementing measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change.

    Negotiations on the Enhanced Transparency Framework have also been completed, providing for uniform harmonized formats for accounting and reporting on emission targets and inventories, in particular, to avoid double counting and manipulation of emission reduction data.

    A historic shift is that all countries of the world have reached a consensus on the main issues of implementation of the Paris Agreement signed in 2015.

    At the conference proposals were made to abandon coal and stop providing state subsidies for fossil fuels for the first time. Although the wording has been relaxed, it has been retained in the final text of decision COP26.

    Before and during COP26, the world’s leading companies, cities, regions, financial, scientific and educational institutions supported the UN initiative “Race to zero” and announced the mobilization of their resources for decisive and immediate measures to halve global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and create a healthier, fairer and safer world.

    The UN Global Campaign Race to Zero calls on businesses, cities, regions, and investors to commit to zero emissions by 2050. A total of 733 cities, 31 regions, 3,067 companies, 173 investors, and 622 higher education institutions, as well as 120 countries, reportedly joined the campaign.

    More than 450 private companies from 45 countries have pledged to finance approximately $100 trillion in investment by 2030 to decarbonize the global economy.

    A statement on behalf of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) was made at COP26 by Mark Carney, UN Special Envoy for Climate Protection and Finance and Financial Adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

    Under the terms of the GFANZ initiative, convened by the United Nations, signatories must commit to using science-based recommendations to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050 in their business and to set and meet intermediate targets by 2030.

    COP26 also announced several new initiatives to support energy innovation and accelerate the transition to renewable energy, which will contribute to further explosive changes.

    Many governments worldwide were not ready for this new reality and did not expect such a rapid development of RES.

    Commitments to increase the share of RES, reflected in the first round of nationally determined contributions to the Paris Agreement submitted in 2015, provided a total average annual increase in renewable energy use of only 3.6% during 2015-2030, which was critically insufficient to achieve the required reducing emissions and sufficient rates of fossil fuel substitution in the world.

    But now, there are reasons for optimism – according to an analysis by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), all new nationally determined contributions submitted by countries to COP26 mention the energy sector as a key area of ​​climate action.

    In submitting updated nationally determined contributions, 72 Parties to the Paris Agreement in various regions of the world used the support of IRENA to strengthen their goals and plan the energy transition.

    The IRENA survey found that of the 194 nationally defined contributions, 143 countries include quantified targets for the share of renewable energy in total supply, 109 have quantified targets for renewable energy in the electricity sector, and 31 countries have quantitative targets for RES for the transport sector and/or heat supply.

    IRENA continues to expand its support to its members in improving and implementation of their energy decarbonization plans. Support will be enhanced by supporting policy and program development, as well as analytical work, training and institutional support, helping countries create an enabling environment for large-scale investment in renewable energy.

    Now, thanks to COP26, private finance, long-term investment and sectoral programs, urban development, technical innovation and government research support are all turning to decarbonization.

    It is very symbolic that the key UN climate conference, which was to pave the way for the Paris Agreement or bury it, took place in Glasgow, Scotland, where Adam Smith taught economic theory at one of the world’s first universities, and James Watt developed the first fossil fuel steam engines.

    These two Scots laid the foundations for the first industrial revolution, the industrialization of Great Britain, and later the world. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the world’s industrialization was based on fossil fuels, Watt’s steam engine, and Adam Smith’s books.

    In the 21st century, we must draw conclusions and implement a new “green” industrial revolution, which must be more significant in scale and scope than the previous two in the 19th and 20th centuries, which shaped the modern polluted world.

    Thanks to the UN “Race to Zero” campaign and the mobilization of investment capital through GFANZ and other initiatives, COP26 officially launches the Third Industrial Revolution, the possibility and necessity of which the great visionary and naturalist economist Jeremy Rifkin has persistently told the EU, US, and Chinese governments for the past 15 years.

    Therefore, anyone who wants to be an expert in modern economic management should put aside the books of Adam Smith and turn to the works of Jeremy Rifkin, chief architect of the new “green and digital” economy of the European Union.

    According to Rifkin, the new industrial revolution is already unfolding due to the convergence of three key technologies, the “three internet”: high-speed and universal 5G communication internet, smart grid network with renewable energy sources and energy storage systems logistics internet of automated vehicles and navigation.

    Communication, energy and logistics “internets” are integrated into the general Internet of Things, built into society and the environment.

    The digital infrastructure of the 21st century is creating a radically new economy that is changing the way we provide and organize society through energy, transport and communications.

    But since climate change is rapidly destroying the planet, for the changes needed for decarbonization to take place quickly, political will is required to shift the worldview – from the dominant increase in profits to the dominant nature conservation.

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