Published On: Sun, Oct 31st, 2021

COP26: Glasgow Kicks Off Major Climate Change Summit

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By Janet Ekstract

ISTANBUL- As the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26 got underway on Sunday in Glasgow, Scotland with 200 countries and 120 world leaders represented, COP26 President Alok Sharma explained that coming to agreements on climate limits will be “tougher than what we achieved in Paris.” He made it clear that the onus is on “leaders” – adding: “They need to come forward and we need to collectively agree how we are going to meet this goal.” Sharma spoke to BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show, further adding, “We expected more” as he referred to countries like China – the world’s largest carbon emitter. He said the conference is a “real opportunity” to show leadership from these countries.

Meanwhile, the first day of COP26 will kick off with a report on the state of the climate, released by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). This provisional report from climate scientists will compare global temperatures this year against previous years. The most worrying issue is that extreme weather has intensified three-fold in the last decade and events like heatwaves, floods and forest fires are all linked to climate change. The report reveals that the past decade was the warmest on record and governments all agree that urgent, collective action must happen at once if the situation is to be controlled.

To that end, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ahern took up the challenge, pledging to decrease her nation’s net greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 vs. a previous target of 30%. Ardern commented: “While we are a small contributor to global emissions, as a country surrounded by oceans and an economy reliant on our land, we are not immune to the impact of climate change, so it’s critical we pull our weight.”

Climate Change Minister James Shaw and Ardern made a joint statement that the previous target was not consistent with global efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels. “This decade is make or break for the planet,” Shaw said in the statement. “To stand a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 Celsius, the science shows we now have about eight years left to almost halve global greenhouse gas emissions.” The New Zealand government has introduced several policies to lower emissions during its second term including promising to make its public sector carbon-neutral by 2025 and buy only zero-emissions public transport buses from the middle of this decade.

In addition, Professor Sonia Seneviratne, a climate scientist at ETH Zurich and an author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report told Britain’s The Independent newspaper that “(COP26 must) acknowledge that people are now dying of human-induced climate change, even in developed countries and that the situation will worsen with increasing global warming.” She added: “The conclusions of the report show that we are in a climate crisis, the mean global warming recorded in the past decade, 1.1C, is unprecedented in more than 100,000 years.”

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