Climate: Much work still needs to be done before COP26, conference chairman warns
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Climate: Much work still needs to be done before COP26, conference chairman warns

Youth for Climate leaders Adelaïde Charlier (left) and Anuna De Wever in Brussels during a climate protest in 2019. © Belga

Much work still needs to be done ahead of the crucial UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Conference President Alok Sharma stressed on Saturday at the end of a preparatory meeting for COP26, held in Milan.

“I do not underestimate the amount of work required,” Mr. Sharma said at a press conference, describing the discussions at the preparatory meeting as “constructive” and reflecting a “real sense of urgency.”

Everyone recognised that Glasgow “will probably be a key moment” to fix goals for the decade to come, he noted, adding that there was consensus on the need to do more to cap global warming at +1.5°C.

The COP26 President also stressed the need to deliver a commitment made in 2009 by governments around the world to allocate 100 billion US dollars a year to help developing countries address the impact of climate change.

“Delivery on the 100 billion is going to be vital […] that’s why we are putting together a delivery plan, together with our colleagues in the German and Canadian governments,” said the Conference President, who is from the United Kingdom.

The 2015 Paris Agreement aims to limit global warming to much less than +2°C and, if possible, 1.5°C, compared to pre-industrial levels. However, in recent years, some countries have been unwilling to recognise the 1.5°C target, including Saudi Arabia and Russia, both of which took part in the Milan preparatory meeting.

According to the latest UN assessment, current commitments by the world’s countries would lead to a “catastrophic” increase of +2.7°C in global temperatures.

With the global rise in temperature now at +1.1°C, the world is already being hit by increasingly intense and frequent disasters, from floods to extreme heat and devastating fires.

“There can be no doubt in anybody’s mind that we are fighting for the survival of humanity and that the climate crises and the threatening ecocide are the biggest threat humanity faces,” European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans said.

“The world is beginning to accept the fact that we need to act, and act now,” he added, expressing the hope that China and India, in particular, which are yet to submit their new commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, will make a “substantial contribution” to the effort to limit global warming to +1.5°C.

Ministers from about 50 countries, including the United States and China, took part in person or remotely in the Milan meeting, the last high-level preparatory session ahead of the 30 October – 12 November UN Climate Change Conference.

The Brussels Times

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