On the 14th of December the COP24, the United Nation Convention on Climate Change has come to an end. The big news – or no-news, as it came as a surprise to nobody – is the decision of US representatives not to promote sustainable energy resources, focusing instead on coal. The commitment to invest in coal mines has been described by officials as a necessary, pragmatic move to fight climate change. It should be kept in mind that this is the explanation provided only in international fora: internally, the US administration has always framed it as a way to protect US jobs. After all, President Trump doesn’t believe in climate change, despite the numerous reports provided by numerous panels – even from the US. From this point of view, it would be interesting to understand his administration’s position on nuclear power – a lobby group quite present and vocal in the past COPs.
But what about the rest of the world?
The bright side is that China seems to be willing to insist on renewable energy. The country has invested a significant amount of money in R&D, and it aims to gain a technological lead and create new jobs. Predictably, Europe is still a driving force in the promotion of environmental policies. We are getting close to the 2020 deadline, and the Continent seems on the right track to meet many of its objectives. Still, many environmental threats, such as the emission of pollutants, need to be addressed.
On the other hand, developing countries still face the challenges they have always faced: to achieve growth without jeopardizing the environment by relying on unsustainable development. The Paris Agreement had promised to find a solution to the matter: unfortunately, the system designed to do so is now politically and economically crippled by the absence of the US. In this sense, the COP24 has been relatively useful for planning new methods and strategies, but the results are only mixed. Besides, a few countries, such as Russia and many oil exporters, have decided not to support the conclusions and the objectives set by the COP24.
All in all, this year’s COP has not been very consequential; but, again, this had to be expected. More than ever, there is a profound divide between the US and the rest of the world. Unfortunately, it seems safe to assume that no big advancements in the fight against climate change can be achieved in the near future. The environment is a common good, and much is at stake: unless all the parties work together, the new policies will always be limited in scope.