They are at the climate summit in Glasgow: to negotiate, share or apply pressure
At the summit, high-level negotiations will be held between more than one hundred participating countries, including limiting global warming.
The face of climate policy
Prime Minister Mark Rutte may be the face of the Netherlands at the conference, but he is not involved in all the negotiations himself. That’s what the Dutch climate envoy, Prince Jaime de Bourbon de Parme, does.
“As a climate envoy, I am one of the faces of Dutch climate policy,” says de Bourbon. “I represent our ministers and oversee the negotiations of the experts.”
He says the urgency of the climate problem has never been greater. “Everyone, everywhere on the planet.”
At the same time, he sees, there is currently “the greatest overall decisiveness” for climate solutions. “This is the international momentum since the Paris Agreement. The European Union, China and the United States in particular are now making this a priority.”
He says his role in COP26 is twofold. On the other hand, as a climate envoy, he helps encourage countries with lower climate ambitions. He wants to help countries that want to show ambition but are unable to because of internal political problems, for example, to find a solution.
Climate change adaptation
On the other hand, it focuses on climate adaptation solutions. “We’ve seen wildfires and floods,” he says. “They happen all over the world and some parts of the world are more sensitive to them than others.” “Do we have inside knowledge that we can share so they can adapt?”
In addition to delegations from Dutch ministries and NGOs, a number of Dutch companies also traveled for the Climate Summit. One of those companies is ASN Bank, which aims to be climate positive by 2030.
“So not only are the CO2 emissions offset, but we also get more air than we put in,” says Frick Geurts. This is also why he and fellow sustainability consultant Emmelien Venselaar are in Scotland: to draw attention to large-scale CO2 capture and storage, for example by building more using wood and other natural materials.
“Natural materials, such as trees, retain carbon dioxide. If you build with them then, you have sustainable carbon dioxide storage: biostructures can last for hundreds of years if they are built modularly.”
They are given the freedom to think about it in an unconventional way. What many people don’t realize is that we can remove carbon dioxide from the air through nature, Gorts says. “It can be done by plants and trees, but whales also store carbon dioxide in their bodies. And when they die and sink to the ocean floor, it forms a natural store of carbon dioxide.”
Filling empty gas fields
Unfortunately, a large-scale whale breeding program is not feasible, and much is needed for this. Geurts and Venselaar especially want to point out that they see more natural solutions than technical ones. “There is a very, very high amount of interest in pumping empty gas fields with captured carbon dioxide,” Venselaar says. “This costs billions and there are also drawbacks.”
Geurts and Venselaar this week present the method that can be used to measure how much carbon dioxide a building can store. Geurts says the method fits well with the European Green Deal. “But we also see that the idea often only comes up if it’s already been used on a large scale somewhere. That hasn’t happened yet.”
All those thousands of Climate Summit participants have to get there somehow. Mara de Pater and her colleagues from Youth for Sustainable Travel have come up with a sustainable solution for this.
From plane ticket to train ticket
The idea was born in the middle of the Atlantic. De Pater and a few others wanted to travel in a sustainable way to attend the previous climate summit, which was to be held in Chile. This is how sailing to the cop was born. But then social unrest broke out in the South American country and that conference was hastily moved to Madrid.
“We heard it on the satellite phone,” says de Pater. “We were so shocked.” It soon became clear that they would not be back in time to join Madrid themselves. “Then we appealed to people to convert their plane ticket to Chile into a train ticket to Madrid.”
“We were joking: If we like this, why not try filling an entire train next time?” she says. And it succeeded. The train, which was scheduled for 2020 from the Netherlands to Scotland, departed last Saturday after being delayed last year.
With Youth for Sustainable Travel, she hopes that the topic of travel will be discussed during COP26 in Glasgow, in particular the role of aviation in emitting greenhouse gases.
Responsibility towards the European Union
“It’s slowly getting on the political agenda, but at the moment aviation and shipping are not affected. Flight plans are not in line with the Paris climate agreement, which should be amended.”
Keep in mind, says de Pater, that the EU is a big flyer and therefore can take on a very big responsibility in this matter.
“I would be totally in favor if the European Union replaced all flights of less than 1,000 km with train journeys. Governments are a bit afraid of implementing such measures, but with the aura I saw: in any crisis everything is suddenly possible. The climate crisis is already so it has come It’s also time for these kinds of actions.”
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