COP26: How might decisions at the climate summit change our lives?

COP26: How can decisions made at the climate summit impact our lives? Published 14 hours ago
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You might wonder what it means for you if and when a new agreement is signed at the climate summit.

These are just a few of the many ways that decisions at COP26 can make a difference in your life.

Changes in how we move about

One of the lifestyle changes that we are likely to make is to switch to an electric vehicle.

Experts predict that electric cars will soon be as expensive as petrol and diesel vehicles within five years. You can also lease an electric vehicle. There is also a growing market for second-hand vehicles, which are often cheaper.

Numerous countries, regions, and car companies have committed to increasing the use of electric cars and bringing in zero-emission trucks and buses.

Others argue that we need fewer cars on roads - others suggest walking and cycling more.

Switch to greener power

More than 40 countries have committed to eliminating coal. Similar numbers have pledged to ensure that clean energy is the best and most affordable source of power for our homes and businesses.

This will be a significant step forward for countries such as the UK in moving towards renewable energy sources like wind and solar energy, and perhaps more reliance upon nuclear energy.

COP26 did not include a major announcement committing the largest coal-users in the world, such as China or India, to end its use.

It is hoped that the announcements made in Glasgow will signal to the market that renewable energy is worthwhile.

Our homes get greener

Our homes could soon have heat pumps and solar panels. We will build new homes using low-carbon concrete and cement alternatives, and re-fit existing ones.

It is also important to ensure that our communities, buildings and infrastructure are capable of coping with the future and current impacts of climate change.

Eva Hinkers, Arup Sustainable Development director says that buildings must be able to withstand more extreme situations.

These could include improving the green space around our homes to absorb excessive rainfall, installing cool roofs that reflect sunlight and prevent heat loss, or installing shutters to protect homes from hurricane winds.

Carbon may be more expensive.

Our lifestyles are a contributor to carbon emissions.

We may soon see carbon emissions costs added to our prices - regardless of whether the product is made in the UK.

If a company doesn't reduce emissions from the products it sells, then its prices could rise. It is hoped that this will encourage consumers and businesses to reevaluate how they consume goods and where they spend their money.

Several household names, including Ikea, Unilever, and Amazon, have responded by saying that they are now looking into cleaner fuels for cargo ships that they use to ship goods.

More space for the natural world

The role of nature in combating climate change was high on the Glasgow agenda. We may start to see the benefits in greener areas around our cities and towns.

Dr Emily Shukburgh, University of Cambridge, says that nature can help us in this area if we treat it with respect.

Craig Bennett, chief executive at The Wildlife Trusts, stated that the arguments for preserving nature's habitats are stronger than ever. "There is renewed enthusiasm about the need... to protect forests and other valuable habitats, and place nature in recovery."

Food that is more expensive

The end of cheap food could be achieved by breaking the link between the destruction of forests in the south and the production of products in the north such as soybeans and beef.

More than 100 countries have joined the Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forests. This declaration aims to end deforestation.

Experts believe that there is a difficult choice to be made - deforestation cannot be stopped if sustainability concerns can be out-competed by prices.

Toby Gardner, Stockholm Environment Institute says that consumers will have to bear some of these costs if they want to fulfill the COP 26 declaration. He states that consumers will need to pay more and consume less.

Your investments and pension could be in motion

At COP26, more than 400 financial institutions, which control an estimated $130tn in private finance, agreed to raise money for green technology.

This means that major pension providers will be looking to invest your money in environmentally-friendly sectors.

Janet Pope, Lloyds Banking Group, says that this could include "helping customers identify ways to increase the energy efficiency in their homes...investing in companies developing sustainable ways of living"

Are you ready for a change in your thinking?

It is possible that we will also see a shift in how we think.

Dr Stephanie Sodero from the University of Manchester believes that the goal of staying below 1.5 degrees - beyond which scientists warn of climate impacts becoming more unpredictable and dangerous - could inspire community action.

She says, "On the ground in UK communities and beyond led by youth activists I think there will be continuous and intense pressure to scrutinise every governance decision - from local transportation to national energy – through a climate lens."

Matthew Hannon, University of Strathclyde, says that the goal of net zero will likely yield positive outcomes such as cleaner air and quieter streets. It also promises better mental and physical health.