• 3 Pollution Solutions Put Forward at COP26

Air Clean Up

3 Pollution Solutions Put Forward at COP26

Nov 12 2021

With COP26 now on the cusp of reaching its conclusion, world leaders from all across the globe are putting the finishing touches to the collective agreement on how best they can curb pollution and keep global warming beneath 1.5°C compared to pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

Prior to its commencement, the conference was billed as the most significant summit since COP21 in Paris six years ago. So, what pollution solutions have been put forward by attendees? Will they go far enough to ensure that the planet meets its objectives and remains at a stable temperature in the years and decades ahead? Here’s a rundown of some of the major breakthroughs decided upon at this year’s event.

Coal

As the most polluting form of energy generation, coal has been in the crosshairs of environmentalists for many years now. There was an early win at COP26 when over 40 nations signed up to a pledge to phase out coal entirely. Signatories will immediately bring a halt to investment in new coal projects both at home and abroad, as well as shutting down existing plants during the 2030s for developed nations and 2040s for poorer ones.

The fact that countries which have traditionally relied on coal for a significant chunk of their power – such as Chile, Poland and Vietnam – signed up to the agreement was viewed as a major win. However, there were several notable absences, including the biggest polluters like China, the USA and Australia. The latter country in particular has been singled out for relying too heavily on technological innovations to curb its emissions, rather than transitioning to greener sources of energy generation.

Fossil fuel subsidies

Although coal is the most damaging fossil fuel, its counterparts oil and gas are also part of the problem. Nonetheless, governments continue to dole out generous subsidies to fossil fuel companies to bolster their power supply and maintain a robust economy. This, despite the fact that climate scientists have been urging them to encourage pursuing greener alternatives for two decades now.

With that in mind, the draft agreement put forward by the chair of COP26 this week suggests that countries should accelerate “the phaseout of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels”. The inclusion of the word “inefficient” is a concession to those nations overly reliant on oil and gas, but the fact that ending subsidies for fossil fuels is mentioned in the agreement at all is an historic step forward.

Methane

While carbon dioxide is the most notorious greenhouse gas, methane is another major contributor to climate. In fact, methane is actually 84 times more powerful than CO2 over a 20-year period, though it does persist in the atmosphere for a much shorter time than carbon. For this reason, it has also been a key target of policies at COP26.

Leakages are a leading culprit for methane emissions, which is why mobile analytical technology is the answer for effective natural gas leak detection. However, countries must also take concrete steps towards curbing their methane output. Thankfully, the US and the EU have taken the lead on this front, announcing a pledge to cut their methane emissions to just 30% of 2020 levels by the end of the decade.


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