By John Ikani
World leaders met in Glasgow, UK, on Monday for the first day of the highly anticipated COP26 Climate Summit.
Delegates were asked to accelerate action on climate change and commit to more ambitious cuts in their countries’ emissions, all in an effort to limit global temperature rises.
Addressing leaders at the first major global gathering since the COVID-19 pandemic, COP26 President, Alok Sharma said: “The science is clear that the window of time we have to keep the goal of 1.5℃ alive and to avoid the worst effects of climate change, is closing fast. But with political will and commitment, we can, and must, deliver an outcome in Glasgow the world can be proud of.”
Also addressing world leaders, Kenyan Environment and Climate Activist Elizabeth Wathuti said, “We need you to respond with courage to the climate and ecological crisis…for these next two weeks – which are so critical for the children, for our species, for so many other living beings – let us step into our hearts.”
In his speech, US President Joe Biden warned that “in an age where this pandemic has made so painfully clear that no nation can wall itself off from borderless threats, we know that none of us can escape the worst that’s yet to come if we fail to seize this moment.”
Biden added that there is only a “brief window left before us to raise our ambitions, and to raise to meet the task that’s rapidly narrowing.”
Prince Charles, addressing delegates at the Summit, said the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated just how devastating a global cross-border threat can be.
“Climate change and biodiversity loss are no different — in fact they pose an even greater existential threat, to the extent that we have to put ourselves on what might be called a war-like footing,” he said.
On his part, United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres stressed that G-20 must lead efforts to reduce emissions.
“The science is clear, we know what to do,” Guterres said. “We must keep the goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius alive. This requires greater ambition on mitigation and immediate concrete action to reduce global emissions by 45% by 2030. G-20 countries have a particular responsibility, as they represent around 80% of emissions … Developed countries must lead the effort,” he added.
COP26 brings together, the major emitting countries and the countries most vulnerable to climate change. The World Leaders Summit will send a clear signal to negotiators to be as ambitious as possible and agree to a negotiated outcome that accelerates action this decade.
The Summit will also underscore that the Paris Agreement is working, with increased commitments on finance, emissions and adaptation as we see the first crank of the Paris Agreement ratchet.
Moving from the promise of Paris, announcements in key sectors will start to show how Glasgow will deliver. This includes new commitments on consigning coal to history, electric cars, reducing deforestation and addressing methane emissions.