The COP26 climate summit in Glasgow is the world’s last chance to spur real action on global warming. But what issues are at stake – and what does a good outcome look like?
IT ISN’T often that international summits are pitched as a “turning point for humanity”. But that is how UK prime minister Boris Johnson described the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, which starts on 1 November, in a speech to the UN this September. The question is which way we will turn. To within touching distance of a safe future climate comparable with the past 10,000 years or so that enabled humanity to flourish? Or continuing towards a hothouse Earth with higher sea levels, extreme weather getting worse, more wildlife wiped out – and an incalculable burden on the well-being of future human generations?
The person charged with making the summit a success, COP26 president Alok Sharma, is adamant that the fortnight-long meeting, delayed for a year because of the covid-19 pandemic, can maintain hopes of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C, the goal agreed at the 2015 Paris climate change summit. “I think keeping 1.5°C alive has to absolutely be the aim,” he says.
“We don’t have another option. If this summit doesn’t keep 1.5 degrees alive, we are in such trouble,” says Christiana Figueres, former chief of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and one of the architects of the Paris Agreement. “We have only the last years of this decade to make a major, major turnaround.”
After years of tough talks, those involved will be keen to trumpet their success following the summit, whatever the result may be. But what will an outcome that is genuinely good for us and the planet look like? Read on for your guide to the …
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