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Crucial UN Climate Summit Gets Under Way in Glasgow

UN Climate summit
Protests ahead of the Summit in Glasgow. Credit: Twitter/Marcus Evans.

The crucial UN climate change summit (COP26) got under way in Glasgow, UK on Sunday as President Alok Sharma says the summit is the world’s “last, best hope” to keep global warming limited to 1.5 C by 2100.

Currently, the world is on track for having global warming rise to 2.7C, which the UN says would result in a “climate catastrophe.”

Nearly 200 countries represented in Glasgow are being asked to place more ambitious targets to reduce their carbon emissions.

“We know our shared planet is changing for the worse, and we can only address that together,” said Sharma in his opening speech at the summit.

A report by the World Meteorological Organisation, launched to coincide with the start of COP26, said that extreme weather events – including powerful heat waves and devastating floods – are the new normal.

Sharma said: “We need to hit the ground running to develop the solutions that we need. And that work starts today – and we succeed or fail as one.”

He added that COP26 was “our last best hope” to meet the aim originally set by world leaders in Paris six years ago. “Where Paris promised, Glasgow delivers,” he said.

More than 25,000 people are descending on Glasgow for the two-week event, with large protests expected.

G-20 leaders called for 1.5C target, but few specifics agreed on

Leaders of the richest countries meeting in Rome this weekend urged “meaningful and effective action” to achieve 1.5C but agreed on few specific measures.

At a press conference in Rome, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said G20 countries have agreed to “continue the commitment to fight climate change for the benefit of current and future generations”.

He said the world’s largest economies agreed at the summit in Rome being held before they go to COP26 to “keep the 1.5C target within reach with a series of immediate actions and medium-term commitments”.

According to Draghi, these include:

  • An international public commitment to eliminate finance for new unabated coal by 2021
    All G20 countries committing to net zero emissions by mid-century
  • Moving “much closer” to the goal of reaching the $100bn in climate finance to support vulnerable countries
  • On that second point, it’s been reported that the actual wording on the target date for net zero in the G20 communiqué is “by or around mid-century”. That really matters because China’s goal is to achieve net zero by 2060 – 10 years later than mid-century, which would be 2050.
climate summit
Source: BBC

Hopes for climate summit “not buried”

The UN’s secretary-general said on Sunday he is leaving the G20 summit in Rome with his hopes for global climate change action “unfulfilled” but “not buried.”

Many see this weekend’s G20 meetings – which involved the world’s biggest economies – as a stepping stone to COP26. A US official told reporters the G20 was about “helping build momentum” before the leaders headed to Glasgow later.

While France’s President Emmanuel Macron told newspaper Journal du Dimanche that “nothing is ever written before a COP” – meaning even if G20 leaders didn’t find a breakthrough, hope should not be lost for Glasgow.

President Biden, addressing the impact of Hurricane Ida after it wreaked havoc on the northeastern coast of the United States in September, remarked that the storm is a rude awakening in our new era of climate crisis.

“The past few days of Hurricane Ida and the wildfires in the West and the unprecedented flash floods in New York and New Jersey is yet another reminder that these extreme storms in the climate crisis are here,” Biden said in a speech he gave from the White House. “We need to be much better prepared.”



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