Cop26: The UN Climate Change Conference

In just under two weeks, 30,000 people from across the globe will descend on Glasgow for a meeting that’s been called “the world’s best last chance to get runaway climate change under control.” But what exactly is it?

What is Cop26?

Cop26 is the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, with 197 countries coming together to work out how to tackle the climate emergency. These meetings have been happening every year since 1995, with the most well known being the 2015 Cop21 in Paris, which resulted in the landmark Paris Agreement.

Why is the Paris Agreement important?

The key to the Paris Agreement is the commitment to keep global warming below an average of 2C, with efforts to limit temperature rise to 1.5C. To reach this goal, each country has decided on its own target of greenhouse gas reduction, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Countries are required to update their NDCs every five years, which is one of the reasons this year’s conference is so significant.

What should I look out for?

The biggest questions at Cop26 will probably revolve around updated NDCs–how much more greenhouse gas reduction will countries commit to? However there are a lot of other vital areas of discussion, including international funding to help developing countries reduce their carbon emissions.

The New Zealand delegation to Cop26 will have several areas of focus, but two to watch out for are the amplification of Pacific voices and also discussions around methane.

How do I find out more?

Cop26 will be covered by news outlets around the world, although the only New Zealand journalist going to the conference in person is business and climate reporter Rod Oram. The official Cop26 website is available here and the action can also be followed via Twitter.

Books:


This changes everything : capitalism vs. the climate / Klein, Naomi
“In This Changes Everything Naomi Klein argues that climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and health care. It’s an alarm that calls us to fix an economic system that is already failing us in many ways. Klein meticulously builds the case for how massively reducing our greenhouse emissions is our best chance to simultaneously reduce gaping inequalities, re-imagine our broken democracies, and rebuild our gutted local economies.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

All we can save : truth, courage, and solutions for the climate crisis
“Women are on the front line of the climate-change battle, and are uniquely situated to be agents of change. Today, across the world, from boardrooms and policy positions to local communities, from science to activism, women everywhere are using their voices to take leadership and call for action on climate change. This anthology is a collection and celebration of these diverse voices, asking critical questions and providing invaluable insight and solutions.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Drawdown : the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming
“In the face of widespread fear and apathy, an international coalition of researchers, professionals, and scientists have come together to offer a set of realistic and bold solutions to climate change. One hundred techniques and practices are described here–some are well known; some you may have never heard of.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The uninhabitable Earth : life after warming / Wallace-Wells, David
“It is worse, much worse, than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible. Without a revolution in how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth could become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Doughnut economics : seven ways to think like a 21st century economist / Raworth, Kate
“Kate Raworth sets out seven key ways to fundamentally reframe our understanding of what economics is and does. Along the way, she points out how we can break our addiction to growth; redesign money, finance, and business to be in service to people; and create economies that are regenerative and distributive by design. Simple, playful, and eloquent, Doughnut Economics offers game-changing analysis and inspiration for a new generation of economic thinkers.” (Catalogue)

Braiding sweetgrass : indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge and the teachings of plants / Kimmerer, Robin Wall
“As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take us on “a journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The new climate war : the fight to take back our planet / Mann, Michael E.
“Recycle. Fly less. Eat less meat. These are some of the tactics that we’ve been told can slow climate change. But most of these recommendations are a result of a multi-pronged marketing campaign that has succeeded in placing the responsibility for fixing climate change squarely on the shoulders of individuals. Fossil fuel companies have followed the example of other industries deflecting blame or greenwashing.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Library Databases:

NZ Geographic: NZ Geographic has been celebrating our people, places, wildlife and environment for two decades. Its archives hold more than 600 in-depth features about our country, natural history and culture.

Gale Environmental Studies in Context: The Global Reference on the Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources focuses on the physical, social, and economic aspects of environmental issues.

LinkedIn Learning: LinkedIn Learning is a video tutorial service providing access to over 12,000 instructional videos on many topics, including several aspects of the climate emergency.

Stories Below Sea Level: Climate Authors in Aotearoa

men say that one day
that lagoon will devour you”

dear matafele peinam, by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner

Up until surprisingly recently, climate change was a neglected topic in the world of fiction. Environmentalist Bill McKibben addressed this in his 2006 essay What the Warming World Needs Now is Art, Sweet Art, pointing out the lack of impact climate change had had on fiction and art compared to previous societal challenges.

However over the last few years things have changed: books focussing on the climate emergency are being published faster than ever, including in New Zealand. Authors have taken up McKibben’s challenge to use fiction to examine the changing world around us, to spur us into action. This undertaking has extended to organisations such as Track Zero and Verb Wellington, both of which have promoted the transformational power of literature.

Yet despite climate change’s more prominent role in local fiction, another question stands out: exactly whose climate stories are being published–and whose aren’t? As Lani Wendt Young recently pointed out, in 2015 only one percent of fiction published in New Zealand was written by Pasifika writers, and only four percent by Māori. And yet Māori and Pasifika communities are disproportionately affected by climate change.

Over the next few weeks Wellington City Libraries will be releasing a series of interviews with publishers, editors and authors whose work has addressed the climate emergency in Aotearoa and the Pacific. Their work spans different genres, languages and formats, but all of them tackle climate change and its complexities. To get things started we’ve got a booklist of local climate fiction and non-fiction for you to browse–and if there’s an author or work you’d like to see included, please let us know!


Where we land / Jones, Tim
“A New Zealand Navy frigate torpedoes a boat full of refugees fleeing a drowning country and Nasimul Rahman is one of the few survivors. First he has to reach the shore alive and then he has to avoid the trigger-happy Shore Patrol, on alert to stop climate change refugees entering the country. Donna is new to the Patrol. When word comes through that the Navy has sunk a ship full of infiltrators and survivors might be making their way ashore, it sounds like she might be put to the test.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Melt / Murray, Jeff
“This novel is an urgent, crushing observation of adaptation and exclusion amidst preparation to settle Antarctica as climate destruction starts to bite. New Zealand in 2048, gateway to the melting continent, is thrust into the centre of the climate crises. Vai Shuster, the Advocate of a tiny, broken island, must find a place for her community in a world that’s not sure it needs the poor.” (Catalogue)

So many islands : stories from the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian and Pacific Oceans
“Giving voice to challenges and triumphs, these writers paint a vibrant portrait of what it is like to live, love and lose the things most precious to them on the small islands they call home. Voicing global issues such as climate change and nuclear testing in the Pacific – a fight close to the heart of these precariously poised islands – to petty politics and the gaps between generations, readers will find universal connections with these worlds and words.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

High water
“Eleven of New Zealand’s best cartoonists take a speculative stab at the looming threat of climate change in this thoughtful, provoking and sometimes hilarious collection. With tales ranging from washed-up celebrity polar bears, to giant post-apocalyptic crabs, High Water takes the reader on a thrilling romp through one of the most important issues of our time. Contributors include Dylan Horrocks, Sarah Laing, Chris Slane and many others.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Sea change : climate politics and New Zealand / Hayward, Bronwyn
“The scientific consensus is clear: our climate is changing and action is needed urgently. Yet at the same time, it can seem that the solutions needed are too large and the problem too insurmountable. Bronwyn Hayward is an international expert on sustainability, youth politics and democracy. In Sea Change: Climate Politics and New Zealand she lays out what New Zealand and New Zealanders could do to keep the average global temperature rise under 1.5 degrees.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ruby and the blue sky / Dewar, Katherine
“Grammy night: Ruby wins ‘Best Song’ and makes an impulsive acceptance speech that excites nature lovers across the world. While Ruby and her band celebrate, an extreme evangelical sect, funded by covert paymasters, dispatches a disciple on a ruthless mission to England. As the band plays its sold-out tour, Ruby is pursued by eco-groupies insisting she use her new fame to fight climate change. Back home, Ruby must confront a challenge not even tea, beer or her mum’s veggie lasagne will make go away…” (Catalogue)

Star sailors / McNaughton, James
“In the not too distant future, the effects of climate change devastate the world and New Zealand becomes a haven for elites. When a young couple from the wrong side of the tracks gain entry into Wellington’s most exclusive gated community, it appears their troubles are over. But they find themselves divided over the identity of Sam Starsailor, an alien prophet who has washed up on a beach near New Hokitika and is said to bring warnings from another planet.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Towards a warmer world : what climate change will mean for New Zealand’s future / Meduna, Veronika
“The year 2014 was the hottest on record since we’ve begun collecting global temperature measurements in 1880. As new thresholds are breached, acclaimed RNZ science writer Veronika Meduna explores our future in a warmer world. Beginning with lessons from our ancient geological past, this BWB Text draws on current observations and increasingly sophisticated climate models to describe possible end-of-century scenarios for New Zealand.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Mistory : a novel / Temple, Philip
“Following Annie’s strange death, her partner is forced to think about what he has allowed to happen to his life, his community and his country. His diary, kept during the year of The Change, reveals how the example Annie left him, and the mission of his young sister Sophie, drive him to escape the life of a bureaucratic cipher and work with the Movement in its fight to bring back a free and fair way of life.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Work in the 21st century: Popular non-fiction books

Analysis of work/life balance and why modern work is making people miserable in two different books; together with a book about the history of Brexit and one about Putin’s Russia, set the tone to our non-fiction new books.

#Chill : turn off your job and turn on your life / Robinson, Bryan E
“Dr. Robinson describes himself as having once being a chain-smoking, caffeine-drinking work junkie, dogged by self-doubt with no close friends. His colleagues were breathing down his neck and didn’t really appreciate his hard work, at least that’s what he told himself. His memory got so bad members of his family wondered if he was developing early onset Alzheimer’s. He scoffed at the idea of work/life balance, yet he couldn’t stop working. He joined Workaholics Anonymous, entered therapy, and stumbled into yoga and meditation. The practice enabled him to climb out of the work stupors into a saner life.” (adapted from Catalogue)

The coddling of the American mind : how good intentions and bad ideas are setting up a generation for failure / Lukianoff, Greg
“First Amendment expert Lukianoff and social psychologist Haidt argue that child-centered social attitudes dating back to the 1980s have convinced young people that their feelings are always right, and this leads not just to failure (as the subtitle has it) but free speech issues on campus and the rising polarization in politics. (they) show how the new problems on campus have their origins in three terrible ideas that have become increasingly woven into American childhood and education: what doesn’t kill you makes you weaker; always trust your feelings; and life is a battle between good people and evil people.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Reason in a dark time : why the struggle against climate change failed – and what it means for our future / Jamieson, Dale
“In this book, philosopher Dale Jamieson explains what climate change is, why we have failed to stop it, and why it still matters what we do. Centered in philosophy, the volume also treats the scientific, historical, economic, and political dimensions of climate change. Our failure to prevent or even to respond significantly to climate change, Jamieson argues, reflects the impoverishment of our systems of practical reason, the paralysis of our politics, and the limits of our cognitive and affective capacities. The climate change that is underway is remaking the world in such a way that familiar comforts, places, and ways of life will disappear in years or decades rather than centuries.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

The globotics upheaval : globalization, robotics, and the future of work / Baldwin, Richard E
“Richard Baldwin explains how digital technology will bring globalization and robotics, or “globotics”, to previously unaffected professional and service sectors. Jobs will be displaced at the eruptive pace of digital technology, leading to discontent among the professional, white-collar, and service workers whose jobs are threatened. Baldwin analyzes how these rapid changes are likely to affect government policies and envisions the future of employment, predicting an increase in face-to-face interaction that will strengthen bonds in local communities.” (adapted from Catalogue)

A short history of Brexit : from brentry to backstop / O’Rourke, Kevin H.
“After all the debates, manoeuvrings, recriminations and exaltations, Brexit is upon us. But, as Kevin O’Rourke writes, Brexit did not emerge out of nowhere: it is the culmination of events that have been under way for decades and have historical roots stretching back well beyond that. Brexit has a history. ” (adapted from Catalogue)

Putin’s world : Russia against the West and with the rest / Stent, Angela
Putin’s world examines the complex panorama of the country’s turbulent past and how it has influenced Putin and the Russians’ understanding of their position on the global stage. This book looks at Russia’s key relationships — with the United States, China, Europe, NATO, Japan, the Middle East — and with Russia’s neighbors, particularly the fraught relationship with Ukraine.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Lab rats : why modern work makes people miserable / Lyons, Daniel
“Personality tests. Team-building exercises. Forced Fun. Desktop surveillance. Open-plan offices. Acronyms. Diminishing job security. Hot desking. Pointless perks. Hackathons. If any of the above sound familiar, welcome to the modern economy. In this hilarious, but deadly serious book, bestselling author Dan Lyons looks at how the world of work has slowly morphed from one of unions and steady career progression to a dystopia made of bean bags and unpaid internships.” (adapted from Catalogue)

No friend but the mountains : writing from Manus Prison / Boochani, Behrouz
“In 2013, Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani was illegally detained on Manus Island. He has been there ever since. People would run to the mountains to escape the warplanes and found asylum within their chestnut forests. This book is the result. Laboriously tapped out on a mobile phone and translated from the Farsi. It is a voice of witness, an act of survival. A lyric first-hand account. A cry of resistance. A vivid portrait through five years of incarceration and exile. Do Kurds have any friends other than the mountains?” (adapted from Catalogue)