World leaders in the hot seat during COP26 climate talks


It’s time for more than 130 world leaders to feel the heat.

They will step onto the podium on Monday and Tuesday in crucial international climate talks in Scotland and talk about what their country will do in the face of the threat of global warming. From US President Joe Biden to Seychellois President Wavel John Charles Ramkalawan, they should talk about how their nation will do its best, challenge their colleagues to do more and in general escalate the rhetoric.

“Humanity has long passed the time devoted to climate change,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was to declare at Monday’s opening session, according to partial remarks released by his office on Sunday evening. “It is one to midnight and we must act now.”

The biggest names, including Biden, Johnson, Indian Narendra Modi, Frenchman Emmanuel Macron and Ibrahim Solih, president of the hard-hit Maldives, will take the stage on Monday.

And then the leaders will leave.

The idea is that they will make the grand political compromise, setting the broad lines of the deal, and then leaving other government officials to work out the nagging but crucial details. This is what contributed to the success of the historic Paris climate agreement in 2015, former UN climate secretary Christiana Figueres told The Associated Press.

“For heads of state, it’s actually a much better use of their strategic thinking,” Figueres said.

COP26: World leaders in Glasgow for ‘last and best hope’ climate summit

In Paris, the two main goals – trying to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times and zero net carbon emissions by 2050 – were created by this priority process, Figueres said. At the unsuccessful meeting in Copenhagen in 2009, leaders rushed to the end.

Thousands of people lined up in a cold wind in the Scottish city of Glasgow on Monday to overcome a bottleneck at the entrance to the site. But what will be noticeable are a handful of major absences at the top known as COP26.

Xi Jinping, president of China, the most carbon-polluting nation, and Russian President Vladimir Putin will not be in Glasgow. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also decided not to travel to Glasgow, state agency Anadolu said on Monday, without citing a reason for the change of plans.

Figueres said the Chinese leader’s absence was not that bad – although Biden berated China over the weekend – because he is not leaving the country during the pandemic and his climate envoy is a negotiator seasoned.

More troublesome are several small Pacific island nations that were unable to get there due to COVID-19 restrictions and logistics. It’s a big deal because their voices relay the urgency, Figueres said.

Kevin Conrad, a negotiator from Papua New Guinea who also chairs the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, said he was monitoring major carbon-polluting nations. “I think it’s really important that the United States and China show leadership as the two biggest emitters. If both can show that it’s possible, I think they give hope to the rest of the world, ”he said.

G20 summit: leaders commit to climate action but make few commitments

Scientists say the chances of meeting the goal of preventing global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius during this century are slowly declining. The world has already warmed by more than 1.1 ° C and current projections based on projected emission reductions over the next decade are expected to reach 2.7 ° C by 2100.

The amount of energy released by such warming would melt much of the planet’s ice, raise global sea levels and significantly increase the likelihood and intensity of extreme weather conditions, experts say.

But ahead of the UN climate summit, leaders of the world’s largest economies, following their Group of 20 summit in Rome, offered vague climate promises instead of pledges of firm action. , asserting that they would seek carbon neutrality “by or near halftime.” century. “The G-20 countries have also agreed to end public funding for overseas coal-fired power generation, but have not set a nationwide coal phase-out target – a blink a clear eye on China and India.

G-20 countries account for more than three-quarters of global climate-damaging emissions and Italy is hosting the summit, and Britain, which hosts the Glasgow conference, was hoping for more ambitious targets emanating from Rome.

India, the third largest emitter in the world, has yet to follow China, the United States and the European Union in setting a target to achieve “net zero” emissions. Negotiators hope Modi will announce such a target in Glasgow.

The Biden administration has worked to temper expectations that two weeks of climate talks will produce major breakthroughs on reducing climate-damaging emissions.

Rather than a quick fix, “Glasgow is the start of this decade’s run, if you will,” Biden climate envoy John Kerry told reporters on Sunday.



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