The UN Climate Summit, COP26, officially opened Sunday, Oct. 31, with delegates from close to 200 countries and NGO observer organizations, including Seven Generations Ahead, braving the Glasgow, Scotland rain early morning to make their entrance. Pre-COP 26 commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions put the planet on track for an average 2.7 degrees Celsius temperature rise this century, a United Nations report said last Tuesday.
The core task at hand for COP 26 is for governments to make more ambitious pledges that put the world on track to limiting warming to below 2C above pre-industrial levels and ideally to 1.5C (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called the current pledge gap a “leadership gap” that needs to be addressed at this summit.
Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of UN Climate Change, in her address stated:
“The devastating loss of lives and livelihoods this year due to extreme weather events clarifies how important it is to convene COP26 despite the impacts of the pandemic still being felt. Clearly, we are in a climate emergency. Clearly, we need to address it. Clearly, we need to support the most vulnerable to cope. To do so successfully, greater ambition is now critical,” she underlined.
In addition to emphasizing that “Glasgow must deliver,” COP 26 President Alok Sharma, originally from Agra, India, highlighted four elements for COP26 to deliver the level of ambition required:
climate action plans to significantly reduce emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by mid-century, and to support adaptation to tackle climate threats
concrete action to deliver these plans, including agreements on reducing coal, electric cars, protecting trees and reducing methane emissions
to honor the 100 billion dollar pledge to fund climate action and adaptation in developing states, and
a negotiated outcome that paves the way for a decade of ever-increasing ambition.
Heads of state arrive Monday and Tuesday. Stay tuned.
Gary Cuneen is the founder of the environmental nonprofit Seven Generations Ahead, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. He is attending COP26 in Glasgow.