More than 120 world leaders will gather in Glasgow on Monday for a summit that represents the “last and best hope” for dealing with the climate crisis and averting an imminent environmental catastrophe.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to emphasize to the conference, according to extracts from his speech: “We must act now… Unless we take climate change seriously today, it will be too late for our children to do so tomorrow.”
Observers hoped that the meeting of the leaders of the Group of Twenty, the countries that account for 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions, would give strong impetus to the “COP26” summit held in Glasgow, after it was postponed for a year due to the epidemic.
On Sunday, the major economies of the Group of Twenty (G20) expressed their commitment to limiting climate warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the most ambitious goal of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
It also agreed to stop financing new coal-fired plants around the world by late 2021.
“While I welcome the G20’s reaffirmation of their commitment to global solutions, I am leaving Rome with unfulfilled, if at least unburied, hopes,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Twitter.
For his part, Boris Johnson said on Sunday: “We have made progress (during the G20 summit). We put ourselves in a reasonable position to prepare for the “COP26″ in Glasgow, but the situation will be very difficult in the next few days,” warning, “If (the conference) Glasgow fails, the Everything will fail.”
The Glasgow conference, which runs until November 12, comes at a time when difficult weather conditions around the world are reflecting the devastating effects of climate change caused by the use of fossil fuels over 150 years.
The United Nations reports that even if the current commitments of the signatories to the Paris Climate Agreement are fulfilled, this would lead to a “catastrophic” warming of our planet by 2.7 degrees Celsius.
Summit President Alok Sharma said at his opening Sunday that COP26 represented “the last and best hope for keeping 1.5°C possible.”
“If we act now and act together, we can protect our precious planet,” he added.
In turn, climate groups expressed their disappointment with the statement issued at the conclusion of the G-20 summit.
“Those so-called leaders should do better. They have another opportunity in this regard starting tomorrow,” Namrata Chaudhary of the non-governmental organization 350.org said on Sunday.
While it is unlikely that the Chinese and Russian presidents will personally attend the Glasgow conference, dozens of heads of state and government, including US President Joe Biden, European Union leaders and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, will attend in Glasgow.
Their statements and actions will be closely watched, especially by young activists who have gone to Scotland despite the obstacles caused by the pandemic.
In an open letter issued by a number of them, including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who arrived on Sunday by train, the activists said: “As citizens of all parts of the planet, we urge you to face the climate emergency … not next year, not next month, now.”
All eyes on India
While China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon, recently presented its new climate plan to the United Nations that reiterated its long-standing goal of peaking emissions by 2030, India is currently in the spotlight.
India has yet to disclose its new “Nationally Determined Contribution”, but if Prime Minister Narendra Modi announces new efforts to curb emissions in his speech Monday, it will intensify pressure on China and others, according to Alden Mayer of the Center for Energy and Climate Research (E3G).
The other pressing issue is the failure of rich countries to allocate $100 billion annually from 2020 to help developing countries reduce emissions and adapt, based on a pledge first issued in 2009.
This goal was postponed to the year 2023, to exacerbate the crisis of confidence between the countries of the North, which are responsible for global warming, and those in the Global South, which are victims of its repercussions.
“Climate finance is not charity. It is a cause of justice,” stressed Lea Nicholson, on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States most vulnerable to climate change, while also denouncing the refusal of major economies to abandon coal.
She said that the predictions issued by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the world could reach the threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius ten years earlier than expected, that is, by 2030, are “terrifying”, especially for the people most affected by the climate crisis and who mainly suffer from The repercussions in a world whose temperature has increased by about 1.1 degrees Celsius.
She pointed out that “despite all this, it seems that some do not feel afraid, but are not even caring.”
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