World leaders must ‘act decisively’ at COP26
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson opened the historic COP26 climate summit by warning world leaders that they face a damning verdict from future generations unless they act decisively.
“The world’s anger and impatience will be out of control, unless we make this COP26 in Glasgow the moment we get real about climate change, and we can get real about coal, cars, money and trees, ”he said in his opening speech. speech.
He said COP26 must mark the beginning of the end of climate change.
“If summits alone solved climate change, we wouldn’t have needed the previous 25 COP summits to get to where we are today. But if COP26 won’t be the end of climate change, it can and it must mark the beginning of the end. “
He added: “Over the years since Paris, the world has slowly and with great effort and pain built a lifeboat for humanity and now is the time to give this lifeboat a mighty blow in the water like a great steamer rolling on the holds of the Clyde.
“Observe a 1.5 degree sexton and go on a journey to a cleaner, greener future.”
More than 120 world leaders are in Glasgow in a “last and best hope” to tackle the climate crisis and avert a looming global catastrophe.
Also speaking at the opening session of the conference, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it was an “illusion” to think that the fight against climate change was won.
“The recent announcements of climate action could give the impression that we are on the right track to change things,” he said.
“It’s an illusion. The latest report on Nationally Determined Contributions showed they would still doom the world to a calamitous 2.7 degree increase.
“And while the recent pledges were clear and credible – and there are serious questions about some of them – we are still heading for climate catastrophe.”
He said even under the best of circumstances, temperatures would rise well above two degrees.
“So as we open this highly anticipated climate conference, we are still heading towards climate catastrophe.
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Mr Guterres warned those gathered in Glasgow that the “sirens were sounding”.
He said: “Our planet speaks to us and tells us something. And so do people everywhere. Climate action is at the top of the list of concerns for people, regardless of country, age and gender.
“We must listen – and we must act – and we must choose wisely. On behalf of this generation and future generations, I urge you: choose ambition. Choose solidarity. Choose to safeguard our future and save the humanity.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose countries are two of the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, did not make it to the summit.
Instead, it was confirmed that the Chinese leader will address the conference in the form of a written statement.
According to the official speaker program, Xi’s statement will be posted on the official conference website later today.
Others, like US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron will attend in person.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin will deliver Ireland’s national statement at the conference tomorrow.
“We have made progress (at the G20). We have placed ourselves in a reasonable position for the COP in Glasgow, but it is going to be very difficult in the next few days,” Mr Johnson said yesterday, before warning: “If Glasgow fails, then everything fails. “
The Glasgow rally, which runs through November 12, comes as an accelerated attack of extreme weather events around the world highlights the devastating climate change impacts of 150 years of burning fossil fuels.
The current commitments of the signatories of the Paris agreement – if they were respected – would still lead to a “catastrophic” warming of 2.7 degrees Celsius, according to the UN.
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COP26 marks the “last and best hope of keeping 1.5 ° C within reach,” summit chairman Alok Sharma said as he opened the meeting yesterday.
“If we act now and act together, we can protect our precious planet,” he said.
Climate groups have expressed disappointment at the statement released at the end of the G20 summit.
“These so-called leaders have to do better. They have another chance: start tomorrow,” said Namrata Chowdhary of the NGO 350.org.
While China, by far the world’s biggest carbon polluter, has just submitted its revised climate plan to the UN, which reiterates a long-standing target of peaking emissions by 2030, India is now at the center of expectations.
India has yet to submit a revised “Nationally Determined Contribution”, but if Prime Minister Narendra Modi announces further efforts to reduce emissions in his speech, it could put more pressure on China and others, said Alden Meyer, senior partner at Climate and Energy Think. E3G tank.
“If he feels confident enough that there will be funding and technological assistance from Europe, the United States, Japan and others, he could signal that India is willing to put update its NDC, ”Meyer said.
Another pressing problem is the inability of rich countries to shell out € 85 billion a year from 2020 to help developing countries cut emissions and adapt – a commitment first made in 2009.
This objective has been postponed to 2023, exacerbating the crisis of confidence between the North, responsible for global warming, and the South, victim of its effects.
“Climate finance is not charity. It is a question of justice,” said Lia Nicholson, on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States Vulnerable to Climate Change, also denouncing the refusal of large economies of abandon coal.
Predictions by the UN Climate Panel of Experts (IPCC) that the 1.5 ° C increase threshold could be reached 10 years earlier than expected, around 2030, are “terrifying”, he said. she said, especially for those on the front lines of the climate crisis who are already suffering the consequences in a world that has warmed by around 1.1 ° C.
Even so, it seems that some are not afraid, or worse, that they are indifferent, she says.
Conor Macauley Additional Reports