IT Has been touted as the world’s ‘best last chance’ to tackle climate change – with warnings the outcome of the COP26 summit in Glasgow will be ‘life or death’ for millions.
Prior to the start of the United Nations meeting, Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon met yesterday with the indigenous peoples of the Americas who have arrived in the city.
She participated in a ceremony with the delegates to the international artistic space Tramway, which hosts the Minga Indigena Summit to represent indigenous communities at COP26. Sturgeon said, “I am delighted to welcome Minga Indigena to my hometown for COP26.
“As representatives of indigenous peoples and countries of the South, they have an important message to convey on behalf of those least responsible for the global climate emergency, who are often the first and most seriously affected by its consequences.
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“Although Scotland is not at the negotiating table, I pledge that the Scottish government will do everything in its power to ensure its message is heard in a successful COP26, alongside the doubling of our first global climate justice fund for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson called COP26 a “global moment of truth” and urged leaders to use the summit to end climate change.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who worked in the oil industry before being ordained, warned radical action was needed, but said there was still time to “save our world from the worst of the world. disaster ”.
He said: “The COP26 climate talks are emergency surgery for our world and its people.
“The result will be life or death for millions of people. This is how seriously we have to take this moment.
Yesterday in other developments, Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater received a positive Covid-19 result just hours before the start of COP26, meaning she will have to self-isolate and miss events at the top.
Experts say COP26 in Glasgow will focus on “writing the rulebook” rather than announcing important new deals.
The UN summit in Paris in 2015 led to a historic, legally binding international treaty aimed at limiting global warming.
This year’s COP marks the fifth anniversary of that deal – as it was delayed by the pandemic – and discussions in Glasgow will focus on working out the details of how to get there, tackling tricky issues such as the rules on carbon markets and climate finance. .
Dr Patrick Bayer, senior lecturer in international relations at the University of Strathclyde, said COP26 would be different from the Paris meeting because the goal is not to find another international agreement.
“An analogy with a board game is that the Paris Agreement defines the objectives of the game,” he said.
“But then, for each board game, you would have different sets of rules in terms of how to try to achieve that goal.
“This is more or less what will happen at this COP.
“This writes the rules for how to get from where we are now in 2021 to where we want to be – ideally just 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, in terms of global temperatures, by 2050.
“These rules obviously have to be agreed, and then they will be agreed at a technical level in Glasgow.”
Bayer said there could be a ‘lag’ between the current buzz and expectations ahead of the conference to be held in Scotland, compared to what will happen when talks actually begin.
“There are a lot of boring technical details in a way that are going to be negotiated during this two week conference,” he added.
A key issue that could spark disagreement is that it sets rules for carbon markets – which would allow countries to receive ‘credits’ for reducing emissions beyond their targets, which could then be sold to countries. who did not meet the requirements.
Another is the issue of funding to help developing countries go green. A delivery plan was released last week by the UK outlining how developed countries will meet a $ 100 billion climate finance target, first set in 2009 – but it remains to be seen whether that target will be. achieved.
Bayer said judging the success of COP26 was a “delicate question”.
“A lot of things are technical, which isn’t too sexy in a way,” he said.
“If we get a breakthrough on the issues in this rulebook on carbon markets, loss and damage, climate finance – with some of those things agreed, that would be a major step on an operational basis. ”
More than 100 world leaders are expected at the conference, including US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Concerns have been expressed that major players such as Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian Vladimir Putin will not be among those absent.
However, Bayer said the bigger question was about which countries couldn’t attend, such as for financial or covid reasons.
He added: “I am really more worried that the COP will exclude some of these actors from developing and climate vulnerable countries, who would suffer great negative consequences from the climate impact.
“I think obviously not making their voices heard is a problem.”
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Former UN official Rachel Kyte, dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University in Massachusetts, US, said: Now cropped by science at 1.5C.
“Glasgow is the world coming together to make sure we’re on the right track and, if we fail, to elevate our ambition.
“It’s about rolling up our sleeves and accepting to do more, faster.
“Negotiations are between governments, but business and civil society can create an atmosphere of ‘we can do it’ or ‘you expect you to agree.’
“But while young people were a growing force in Paris, today their strikes, organizing and stigmatizing criticism of the lack of speed and scale of climate action, is a real force that can be felt in all venues. negotiation. ”