The naive fantasy of global action on climate change

The world won't unite to fix this. Countries must take care of themselves.

John Kerry.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Getty Images, iStock)

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, concluded in Glasgow on Sunday with predictable results. After two weeks of negotiations, delegates managed to reach an agreement that split the difference between the interests of participating countries. Official sources praised the deal as a step toward the goal of controlling global warming, while critics denounced incremental progress as failure. The whole script could have been written in advance without anyone traveling to Scotland at massive carbon cost.

The next phase is predictable, too. One by one, rich states will abandon commitments to emissions reduction that were already watered down from initial targets. In the United States, a Republican president may abandon the pact entirely, as former President Donald Trump did when he rejected the 2015 Paris Agreement. Then pressure will build to repeat the entire pointless process again.

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Samuel Goldman

Samuel Goldman is a national correspondent at He is also an associate professor of political science at George Washington University, where he is executive director of the John L. Loeb, Jr. Institute for Religious Freedom and director of the Politics & Values Program. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard and was a postdoctoral fellow in Religion, Ethics, & Politics at Princeton University. His books include God's Country: Christian Zionism in America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018) and After Nationalism (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021). In addition to academic research, Goldman's writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications.