December 7, 2021

Image credit: BBC

As the climate conference enters its final day, there is a fear of failure

The penultimate day of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow is approaching, amid mounting concerns that the aim of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius may not be realised.

The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, told the Associated Press that the aim was on life support. He predicted that governments would not make the pledges required to reduce CO2 emissions sufficiently at the summit.

COP26 President Alok Sharma had previously cautioned that time was running out to reach an agreement before the conference closed. Limiting global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to scientists, will help humanity avoid the worst climate consequences. When compared to pre-industrial temperatures, this is a significant difference.

In Paris in 2015, world leaders promised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to keep the planet from warming by more than 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius. According to the most recent forecasts, the temperature will rise by 2.7 degrees Celsius.

Mr. Guterres warned that pledges to cut emissions would be useless if governments continued to invest in fossil fuels.

Former Irish President Mary Robinson, who heads a group of senior political leaders on climate change, has accused some of the world’s largest carbon polluters of sabotaging efforts to get a more ambitious action plan at COP26.

The COP26 meeting is the largest on climate change since the historic Paris negotiations. Around 200 countries have been required to submit plans by 2030 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.

A tiny group of countries struck an agreement on Thursday to phase out oil and gas production. The Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance is led by Denmark and Costa Rica and includes France, Wales, and Ireland, but not the United Kingdom. Activists and politicians cautiously welcomed the US and China’s surprising announcements on Thursday that they would aim to prevent global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius – but campaigners stressed that both countries needed to take meaningful action.

Meanwhile, officials from Ghana, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, and Tuvalu convened a press conference, alleging that the US was impeding progress at COP26. They claim that the US is rejecting the poorest and most vulnerable countries’ concerns about climate change.