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Six months after the Glasgow summit, where can we find progress on climate change in a more dangerous and divided world?

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Flooding caused by heavy rain in New South Wales has prompted evacuation orders for towns in the Northern Rivers region (Photo: Dan Peled/Getty Images)

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In the United States, the Biden administration has struggled to push through its actions promised by Congress. Last-ditch efforts are underway to salvage some kind of climate and energy bill from the abandoned Build Back Better plan. Without it, US pledges to cut emissions by more than 50% by 2030 seem fanciful, and the rest of the world knows it, dealing another blow to US credibility abroad.

As a former senior UN official, I have been involved in international climate negotiations for several years. Halfway through this year’s climate negotiations, with the next UN climate conference in November 2022, here are three areas to watch for progress and cooperation in a world full of danger and division.

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Climate change: 50/50 chance that global warming will exceed 1.5°C in the next five years

Crisis response with long-term benefits

There are problems to solve. As Europe buys gas from other places, it risks reducing gas supplies that other countries depend on and forcing some of those countries to revert to coal, a more carbon-intensive fuel that destroys air quality. Some countries will need help to develop renewable energy and stabilize energy prices to avoid a backlash from climate-friendly policies.

Guarantee the integrity of the company’s commitments

Their pledges have faced cries of “greenwashing” from many climate advocacy groups. Efforts are currently underway to compel companies, as well as countries, to meet their commitments.

A UN group chaired by former Canadian environment minister Catherine McKenna is currently working on a framework to hold companies, cities, states and banks to account when they claim to have “net null”. This is designed to ensure that companies that committed to net zero last year are now saying how and on what scientific basis.

For many companies, especially those with large carbon footprints, part of their commitment to achieving net zero includes purchasing carbon offsets – often investments in nature – to balance the ledger.

This summer, two efforts to put guardrails around voluntary carbon markets are set to release their first sets of guidelines for carbon credit issuers and for companies that want to use voluntary carbon markets to meet their net-zero claims. . The aim is to ensure that carbon markets reduce emissions and provide a steady stream of revenue to regions of the world that need financing for their green growth.

Climate change influences elections

Climate change is now an increasingly important factor in elections.

French President Emmanuel Macron, trying to woo a candidate’s supporters to his left and energize young voters, made more dramatic climate pledges, promising to be “the first major nation to ditch gas, oil and the coal”.

With Chile shifting to the left, the country’s new constitution will incorporate climate management.

In Australia, the government of Scott Morrison – which has backed the opening of one of the world’s largest coal mines as Australia’s private sector focuses on renewable energy – faces an election on May 21, 2022, with extreme heat waves and flooding fresh on voters’ minds. . Brazilian Jair Bolsonaro faces opponents in October who talk about climate protection.

Elections are contested and won on portfolio issues, and energy prices are high and inflation sets in. But voters around the world are also feeling the effects of climate change and are increasingly worried.

The next climate conference

Countries will face a different set of economic and security challenges when the next round of UN talks begin in November in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, than the challenges they faced in Glasgow. They will need to show progress on their commitments while fighting for bandwidth, addressing the climate emergency as integral to security, economic recovery and global health.

There is no time to push climate action forward. Every digit of warming avoided is an opportunity for better health, more prosperity and better security.