With the conclusion of the 26th United Nations COP (Conference of the Parties) — and our state’s delegation back at home — should New Mexicans be proud of our state’s role in the global fight to tackle climate change?

We are in the 11th hour of this climate emergency. Ahead of this round of international talks, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its 2021 report that stated unequivocally — we are not just failing to bring down global emissions fast enough — we are failing to bring them down at all. Last year saw an increase in global climate emissions. According to the World Meteorological Organization, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gasses hit a record last year and rose faster than the 10-year annual average despite temporary slowdowns during the beginning of COVID-19. CO2 levels hit 413.2 ppm. At this rate, the globe will see a temperature increase by the end of the century far in excess of the Paris Agreement target of around 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 Fahrenheit.

The mandate from the scientific consensus is that we must cut global emissions in half in eight years.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham was praised for her work to cut methane emissions and lauded as a model climate leader at the climate conference. But our governor has failed to account for the fact that under her administration, New Mexico oil and gas production and global emissions have risen. Our state was the second in the country for gas production last year. Even with oil prices plummeting due to the pandemic, New Mexico saw record extraction. According to Oil Change International’s latest report, burning the oil and gas projected to be produced in the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico by 2050 will release nearly 40 billion tons of CO2, almost 10 percent of the remaining global carbon budget for staying under 1.5 Celsius.

Can we expect our state Democratic leadership to protect our local communities (already suffering from extensive drought, water shortages, loss of agricultural viability and the imminent threat of wildfire) and the world against this Permian climate bomb? Can we expect earnest investments in transition planning, revenue replacement and sustainable economic development so we can stop fossil fuel development? Can we expect cleanup, corporate accountability and reparations for impacted communities?

Last month, we attended the New Mexico Climate Summit — where we were hoping to hear a resounding yes to these questions. We were cautiously optimistic that New Mexico’s leadership might be ready to commit to transitioning away from fossil fuel dependency. I left the first day feeling sick to my stomach and gravely concerned for my future.

Rather than meeting the climate crisis with the urgency and seriousness it deserves, Lujan Grisham announced her plans for New Mexico to achieve net-zero-emissions by 2050, develop New Mexico’s hydrogen sector and, lastly, encourage carbon reduction credits — all of which are dangerous false solutions designed to distract us from taking meaningful climate action while keeping the money flowing to the same fossil fuel industries that have spent decades destroying our planet for short-term profits.

This year we have a $1 billion surplus from oil and gas revenues. We are calling on the state to set aside at least a quarter of this revenue for transition planning and investments. The Just Transition Fund can help facilitate investments now to replace fossil fuel revenues.

After another nightmare year of record temperatures, catastrophic wildfires, flooding, hurricanes droughts and species loss — we ask ourselves, will New Mexico rise to this climate moment? It looks like we are going to have to push hard to ensure that we do.

Jonathan Juarez-Alonzo is an Indigenous, Two-Spirit, climate activist and community organizer in unceded Tiwa territory — Albuquerque — and is the Policy Lead for Youth United For Climate Crisis Action.

(2) comments

Mike Johnson

Rather than focusing on what I disagree with in this "opinion", let me focus on what I agree with. Yes, MLG, and her various political hangers-on and cronies, took an expensive and carbon emissions loaded junket to a worthless and useless gathering of fellow virtue signaling politicians and celebrities to put on a political circus, nothing else. As one pundit wrote:"What equals 68 cars’ CO2 emissions for a year?—>NM@GovMLG's flight from NM to Scotland to talk about climate change." And that was just for her, not all the rest of the NM entourage.

In addition, uneducated and inexperienced teenagers, like Greta, saw what was obvious but apparently missed by the left wing press and political operatives:"It is not a secret that COP26 is a failure. It should be obvious that we cannot solve the crisis with the same methods that got us into it in the first place,” Greta Thunberg said.“The COP has turned into a PR event, where leaders are giving beautiful speeches and announcing fancy commitments and targets, while behind the curtains governments of the Global North countries are still refusing to take any drastic climate action.”

And distinguished climate scientist, Dr. Jim Hansen, also saw this debacle for what it was: "It’s a fraud really, a fake,” he says, rubbing his head. “It’s just bull.... for them to say: ‘We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.’ It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.”

And various nations announced plans, not to cut back on coal use, but to expand it: "New coal plants to emit 28 bln tonnes carbon.

COP26 host wants agreement on ending coal use.

Asian governments say coal needed for economic growth.

Coal remains world's leading power-generation fuel."


And no matter what NM does, it would be literally a drop in the ocean of CO2 emissions around the world, just look at reality: https://www.iea.org/reports/global-energy-review-2021/co2-emissions

And if all that wasn't bad enough, the COP26 event was a super spreader event as well:


So what did MLG accomplish for anyone but herself?

Dennis McQuillan

In addition to the 2021 IPCC report, see what the National Academies of Science says about global warming's contribution to extreme weather events. https://www.nationalacademies.org/based-on-science/climate-change-global-warming-is-contributing-to-extreme-weather-events

It is great to see young people demanding action to protect and restore the damaged planet they are inheriting. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-59165781

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