The COP26 climate negotiations in Glasgow is the last and best hope to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial times, the summit’s president Alok Sharma said on Sunday as he opened the United Nations meeting in the Scottish city, AP reported.
The summit will go on till November 12. Sharma is a British member of parliament and its government minister in charge of chairing the talks.
At the opening ceremony, Sharma said that countries can move negotiations forward and can launch a decade of “ever-increasing ambition and action”.
“We can seize the enormous opportunities for green growth for good green jobs, the cheaper, cleaner power,” he said.
Sharma added that countries across the world were feeling the impact of climate change in the form of floods, cyclones, wildfires and record temperatures, AFP reported.
“We know that our shared planet is changing for the worse,” he said. “If we act now and we act together we can protect our precious planet.”
The COP26 summit
The COP or Conference of Parties summits are yearly meetings held within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The summit in Glasgow is the 26th such meeting.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, United States President Joe Biden, France’s Emmanuel Macron, and Australia’s Scott Morrison will attend the United Nations meeting.
The COP26 aims to discuss ways to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and preferably below 1.5 degrees Celsius, as compared to pre-industrial levels. This goal has been set out in the Paris agreement of 2015.
Earlier, Sharma told the BBC that the global summit expects more of China and said that the gathering was a “real opportunity” for the country to show leadership. China is currently the world’s largest carbon emitter.
Ahead of the summit, climate activist Greta Thunberg told the BBC that it was “never too late to do as much as we can”.
“If we switch our focus from trying to create loopholes and excuses to not take action...to actually trying to combat climate change...then I think we can create massive changes,” Thunberg added.
In Italy, Pope Francis urged people to pray “so that the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor” is heard by summit participants, according to AP.
“May this encounter yield efficient answers offering concrete hope to future generations,” he said.
Under the Paris Agreement, India has agreed to reduce the emission intensity of its gross domestic product (greenhouse gas emissions per unit of GDP) by 33-35%. On July 15, Union Power Minister RK Singh exuded confidence that the country will exceed its target.
However, in the past year, experts have linked several extreme weather events to the impact of climate change. This includes flash floods following the breaking of a glacier in Uttarakhand and Cyclone Tauktae, which left at least 155 people dead.