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You may have seen “COP26” in the news — and no, it’s not a new true-crime docuseries (although the bland title does keep things mysterious).
Since 1995, the annual United Nations “Conference of the Parties” brings countries together to make commitments to address climate change — most recently, the 2015 Paris Climate Accords, which came out of COP21. As COP26 kicks off in Glasgow on Halloween, two mysteries need to be solved: how quickly we can fully transition away from coal and other polluting energy sources, and who will be paying for that transition in less-wealthy countries.
This will be the first COP since the Paris Agreement was signed to require countries to actually change their plans based on the progress they claim to have made over the past few years. Announcements of real steps that go beyond the Paris Agreement will signal an even stronger commitment to the structural changes and innovation funding needed to limit the rise in temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Add in the increasingly dire climate change warnings from scientists, the one-year COVID chaos delay, and the growing tensions between the US and China (and the latter’s reluctance to phase out coal), and you can see why the conference is a “make or break” moment.
Solving the mystery of transition will come down to the regulations and targets proposed in the refreshed country plans, and how much they are likely to reshape carbon-emitting industries. In addition, real change will require new innovations and discoveries to ensure a path to a carbon-free future and a regulatory environment that enables these new innovations to flourish. The second mystery — who foots the bill, which experts project is about $100 billion beyond what has already been committed — is still TBD. Aid from other governments will cover some, but climate-focused investors will also have a chance to step in and close the case.
Microsoft joins the reuse, reduce, repair party
Whether it’s a cracked phone screen, a failing laptop battery, or a silent headphone speaker, we all know the signs of gadgets reaching the end of their lifespan. Next is usually an expensive visit to an authorized service provider or buying a replacement. Either way, we’re forced to go back to large manufacturers to solve the problem and open our wallets.
Big Tech’s monopoly on repairs has been at the heart of a consumer rights debate in recent years. Think about it: do you really own a product if you can’t open it up and fix it with genuine spare parts, a manual, and diagnostic information, or pick an independent, third-party service to do it? Not to mention all the potential inventors we’ll lose out on if we end the age-old tradition of tinkering.