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COP26 Concludes Today, Let’s Remember the World Leaders Summit

COP26 concludes today. Of all, only India met its target set out in the Paris Climate Agreement. Others also promised to try harder to achieve the goals. Let's remember what some of the leaders said.

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Partha Pratim Ray
Partha Pratim Ray
Partha Pratim Ray is an India-based expert and senior journalist in corporate communication, branding, social media management, and public relations.

UNITED KINGDOM. Glasgow: The 26th United Nations Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP26) that began on October 31 in Glasgow concludes today, November 12, 2021. Let us remember what the World Leaders Summit was like on November 1-2.

Almost all countries, except a few Pacific Island countries, gathered in Glasgow to attend the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) of the UNFCCC, which concludes today. Leaders from around 197 countries were expected to work out the details on how to move towards net-zero global security, protect vulnerable communities and mobilize funds for developing nations to address challenges weather-induced.

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The Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change Patricia Espinosa (Spain), said at the Opening Conference, “We stand at a pivotal point in history. We either choose to achieve rapid and large-scale reductions of emissions to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C – or we accept that humanity faces a bleak future on this planet.” She continued, “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. … To do so successfully, greater ambition is now critical.”

The COP26 Presidency also released a document, outlining actions on the work required to close the adaptation gap and respond to impacts and build a climate-resilient future for all.

World Leaders COP26 Summit opening ceremony

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After the procedural opening of the negotiations on October 31, on Monday, November 1, the opening ceremony took place and was streamlined live for the global community.

COP26: Opening Ceremony – World Leaders Summit

The World Leaders Summit

A live performance by young Scottish piper Brìghde Chaimbeu kicked off the World Leaders Summit in the main plenary hall of the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) which is the venue for the COP26 meeting located in the heart of Glasgow.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at the Opening of the COP26 World Leaders Summit.
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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson opened the World Leaders Summit portion of the UN Climate Conference saying the world is tied to a “Doomsday Device.” Johnson compared the position of Earth to that of the fictional secret agent James Bond strapped to a bomb that will destroy the planet and trying to figure out how to defuse it.

He further added that the “ticking doomsday device” is real and not fiction and that it all started in Glasgow with James Watt‘s coal-powered steam engine, followed by centuries of the industrial revolution that encouraged the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas, leaving mother earth extremely vulnerable.

Prince Charles speaks at the COP26 World Leaders Summit.

The Prince of Wales Prince Charles made an urgent call for action in terms of sustainability. Addressing world leaders at the summit, he said that time has quite literally run out” and that “climate change and biodiversity loss poses an even greater existential threat.”

Charles pleaded for global collaboration and coordination with the words, “As we tackle this crisis, our efforts cannot be a series of independent initiatives running in parallel.” He insisted that nations should come together and create an environment that allows all sectors of industry to take the necessary actions: “We know this will take trillions, not billions of dollars.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warns everyone to stop treating nature as a toilet.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged nations to form coalitions to create the financial and technological conditions needed to accelerate decarbonization of the economy and phase out the use of coal. He said that countries must revisit their national climate plans and policies every year instead of every five.

Guterres announced the establishment of a Group of Experts to propose clear standards to measure and analyze net-zero commitments from non-state actors. He also urged everyone to do more to protect vulnerable communities by developing early warning systems during weather emergencies, climate-smart agriculture, and infrastructure that will ultimately save lives and jobs.

Reiterating his call for a $100 billion climate finance commitment in support of developing countries, the UN Secretary-General added: “Those suffering the most, namely the least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS) need urgent funding.” He asked the attendees to “choose ambition and solidarity.”

Sir David Attenborough addresses World Leaders.

Attenborough attended and spoke at COP26 as the “People’s Advocate,” and urged world leaders to act to reduce emissions, saying “We must fix our sights on keeping 1.5 degrees within reach.

United States President Joe Biden speaks at COP26.

While making national statements, US President Joseph R. Biden recalled that climate change is already affecting millions, saying that “Glasgow must be the kick-off of a decade of ambition and innovation to preserve our shared future.” Biden will soon launch a long-term plan that will allow the US to become net-zero by 2050, including new commitments in the agriculture, oil, gas, and forestry sectors.

Prime Minister of Italy Mario Draghi speaks at COP26.

Italy’s prime minister Mario Draghi called for a “quantum leap” in the fight against climate change through multilateral development banks, including the World Bank, insisting that money shall be made available as it is “useable for good effort.” He concluded by saying, “Future generations will judge us for what we achieve or fail to achieve. We must involve them, listen to them, and above all learn from them.

Also Read: Climate Action in Developing Countries Needs Support from Developed Countries

National Statement by the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi at the COP26.

The Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi said, “India was the only country to have met its target set at the Paris Climate Agreement in letter and spirit as the 2015 meeting was not just a summit, but a commitment for it.

He further added that India will reach its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW by 2030 and meet 50 percent of its energy requirements from renewable energy; reduce total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes; and, reduce the carbon intensity of its economy to less than 45 percent by 2030. Last but not least, India will achieve the Net-Zero target by 2070.

Yrsa Daley-Ward recites the Earth to COP poem

Prominent poet Yrsa Daley-Ward addressed dignitaries during the opening ceremony with an Earth to COP poem that reminded everyone of the urgency with which things must be done. The following lines of the poem fit perfectly with the occasion that says “Anything less than your best is too much to pay. Anything later than now, too little, too late. Nothing will change without you.

President of the Conference of the Parties Alok Sharma speaks at the COP26.

Addressing leaders at the first major global gathering since the COVID-19 pandemic, President of the Conference of the Parties (COP) Alok Sharma thanked all delegates for traveling to Glasgow and outlined the urgent need for action as the window “to avoid the worst effects of climate change, is closing fast.

COP and COP26 

COP stands for Conference of the Parties. It is a summit meeting that is generally attended by countries that have signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). With the UK as chair, the 2021 meeting in Glasgow is the 26th edition of the summit, hence the name COP26. COP25 was held in 2019 in Madrid, Spain, where each country agreed to design a plan to reduce their carbon emissions for the next conference in Glasgow.

The Paris Agreement

195 countries attended the COP21 meeting in Paris in 2015 and agreed to address climate change, hence the name The Paris Agreement. Under the agreement, nations must do the following to address climate change:

  • Reduce the amount of harmful greenhouse gases.
  • Produce and increase the types of renewable energy such as wind, solar and wave energy.
  • Keep the global temperature rise “well below” 2° C and try to limit it to 1.5° C.
  • Review progress made on the deal every five years.
  • Spend $100 billion a year on climate to help the poorest countries by 2020, with a commitment to continue financing in the future.

Under the Paris Agreement, countries committed to developing a national plan detailing how each country would reduce its emissions, also popularly known as Nationally Determined Contributions or “NDCs.” All countries agreed to develop an updated plan every five years that reflects their highest possible ambition at the time.

Net-Zero

Generally, net-zero refers to all greenhouse gases, that is, all gases covered under the Kyoto Protocol unless the definition refers to a specific gas (e.g. net-zero carbon) that enters the atmosphere and is balanced by removing it from the atmosphere. The Paris Agreement underscores the need for a net-zero that will require each country to strike a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases. 

The United States, Great Britain, and the European Union have set a 2050 target date for reaching net -zero; China and Saudi Arabia have set 2060 targets; and, India has set a 2070 target.

The Kyoto Protocol 

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted on December 11, 1997, and entered into force on February 16, 2005. It operationalizes the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by committing industrialized countries and economies in transition to limit and reduce greenhouse gases (GHG Emissions) by following agreed individual objectives.

The targets for the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol cover emissions of the six main greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).

There are currently 192 Parties to the Kyoto Protocol.

Author

  • Partha Pratim Ray

    Partha Pratim Ray is an India-based expert and senior journalist in corporate communication, branding, social media management, and public relations.

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