The COP26 conference set a record for CO2 emissions, with air travel the main culprit

The COP26 conference set a record for CO2 emissions, with air travel the main culprit

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – NOVEMBER 11: António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, speaks during the Global Climate Action High-level event.

Jeff J Mitchell | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, U.K., this year is projected to have a carbon footprint that roughly doubles that of the last global summit in 2019, according to a report by Arup, a London-based professional services firm.

The two-week COP26 climate summit, which ends on Friday, will emit about 102,500 tons of carbon dioxide — that’s the equivalent of total average annual emissions for more than 8,000 U.K. residents.

About 60% of the summit emissions are estimated to come from international flights, while other large contributors include accommodations for delegates and participants, policing and security for the event, transportation to and from venues., and local energy, water, and waste management.

The event is set be the most carbon-intensive UN climate conference yet. The 2019 COP25 in Madrid, by comparison, emitted an estimated 51,101 tons of carbon dioxide and the 2015 COP21 in Paris emitted an estimated 43,000 tons of carbon dioxide.

Young protesters take part in the Fridays For Future rally in Glasgow, Scotland on November 5, 2021, during climate summit COP26.

Daniel Leal-Olivas | AFP | Getty Images

World leaders made a slew of climate pledges throughout the summit, including deals to phase out coal, cut methane emissions and end deforestation. Still, environmental activists have accused government ministers and corporations of so-called greenwashing and argued the commitments aren’t adequate to address the scale of the climate crisis.

“The meeting in Glasgow is not supposed to be a demonstration of sustainable lifestyles, and it shouldn’t be judged in those terms,” Doug Parr, chief scientist for Greenpeace UK, said in a statement.

“But the failure to reach any meaningful agreement about limiting aviation’s vast carbon emissions — at a conference where 60% of their emissions came from aviation, with a backing chorus of media outrage at the private jet hypocrisy of the elites — really highlights the lack of equity in these talks,” Parr added.

The British government has vowed to deliver a climate-neutral conference and said it will implement a carbon offsetting strategy, including purchasing carbon credits and funding projects to replace electricity generated through fossil fuels with renewable energy.

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