“One minute to midnight” says Johnson as climate conference opens
GLASGOW, Nov 1 (Reuters) – A U.N. conference critical to averting the most disastrous effects of climate change kicked off on Monday, its task made even more daunting by the failure of major industrial nations to agree ambitious new commitments.
The COP26 conference in the Scottish city of Glasgow opened a day after the G20 economies failed to commit to a 2050 target to halt net carbon emissions – a deadline widely cited as necessary to prevent the most extreme global warming.
Their commitment to phase out fossil fuel subsidies “over the medium term” echoed wording used by the G20 at a summit in Pittsburgh as long ago as 2009.
“If we don’t get serious about climate change today, it will be too late for our children to do so tomorrow.”
“This is not a drill. It’s code red for the Earth,” it read. “Millions will suffer as our planet is devastated — a terrifying future that will be created, or avoided, by the decisions you make. You have the power to decide.”
At the G20, U.S. President Joe Biden singled out China and Russia, neither of which sent its leader to Glasgow, for not bringing proposals to the table.
President Vladimir Putin of Russia, one of the world’s top three oil producers along with the United States and Saudi Arabia, dropped plans to participate in any talks live by video link, the Kremlin said.
Less senior delegates – many of them held up on Sunday by disruptions to the rail service between London and Glasgow – had more mundane problems.
To do that, it needs to secure more ambitious pledges to reduce emissions, lock in billions in climate-related financing for developing countries, and finish the rules for implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement, signed by nearly 200 countries.
Developed countries confirmed last week that they would be three years late in meeting a promise made in 2009 to provide $100 billion a year in climate finance to developing countries by 2020.
“Africa is responsible for only 3% of global emissions, but Africans are suffering the most violent consequences of the climate crisis,” Ugandan activist Evelyn Acham told the Italian newspaper La Stampa.
“They are not responsible for the crisis, but they are still paying the price of colonialism, which exploited Africa’s wealth for centuries,” she said. “We have to share responsibilities fairly.”
Two days of speeches by world leaders will be followed by technical negotiations. Any deal may not be struck until close to or even after the event’s Nov. 12 finish date.