COP26: Pledges of world leaders must turn into reality

Published : Tuesday, 9 November, 2021 at 12:00 AM

COP26, 12-day United Nations Conference on Climate Change, started at Glasgow, Scotland from November 1, 2021. Global leaders have gathered there in numbers to address the environmental hazards and to find solutions to mitigate the natural losses, which is creating severe threat for the whole mankind all around the globe. The world leaders expressed their strong commitments but the event is being criticized for not coming up with immediate action plans. Whatever the case is, the global leaders have agreed on the seriousness of the threat for the first time and that claim can be justified from their speeches at COP26 to a great extent.

Leaders, including those from major greenhouse gas emitting countries like the US, Canada, Spain, India and more, spoke at the summit. Their speeches contained remarks on emissions reductions and funding for UN climate financing initiatives. The gravity of the climate crisis is being highlighted by climate activists, including Greta Thunberg, from around the world, who have descended on Scotland for the conference. At this year’s COP26 it is absolutely vital that wealthy nations deliver on their climate financing pledges and mobilize at least $100 billion annually for developing countries to address climate change.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson started the opening ceremony where he spoke on the importance of reducing global emissions. He focused on listening to science and the impact of a temperature increase on the global food supply and extreme weather. He also mentioned that, at COP26, world leaders are scheduled to address an increasingly urgent climate crisis.

Secretary General of the UN Antonio Guterres called out delay and advocated for an end to assaulting biodiversity and killing ourselves with carbon.

The US President Joe Biden highlighted the importance of unity and shared responsibility on acting against climate change. Biden made pledges toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to green energy and announced a long-term strategy for the US which will present a plan for reaching net zero by 2050. On the international front, Biden reiterated the country’s goal to increase climate funding for developing nations, a pledge that the US has continuously failed to provide its fair share of.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez pointed towards Spain’s national contributions and spoke of abandoning fossil fuels to protect biodiversity, the oceans, and Antarctica. Sanchez announced the country’s plan to increase its contribution to the Green Climate Fund, the world’s leading climate financing group, by 50% from 2025 and deliver 30 million Euros to the UN Adaptation Fund in 2022 with 20% going to vulnerable nations.

Mia Mottley, the prime minister of Barbados, delivered an emotional speech at the opening ceremony, reminding countries that ongoing indecisiveness to meet commitments in climate pledges and mitigation has failed those on the frontline of the climate crisis. She said that, 1.5 degrees is what we need to survive and 2 degrees is death sentence for many.

President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo called for solidarity, partnership, cooperation and global collaboration to mitigate climate change threats. President Widodo mentioned Indonesia’s contributions to the fight against climate change. He urged countries to create transparent, inclusive and fair carbon economies.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau opened his speech by relaying the real-life consequences of rising temperatures and speaking on Canada’s carbon price trajectory. He encouraged countries to set a standard shared minimum price on pollution while announcing his commitments toward emissions reductions.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke on India’s efforts to fulfill commitments of the 2015 Paris agreement and celebrated his country’s transition to renewable energy and railway systems. He urged countries to embrace and build partnerships toward lifestyle changes for the environment.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggested that scientists and financiers would lead the world into realizing the goal of net zero emissions. He said Australia would invest over $20 billion in adaptive technology domestically and abroad over the next decade, and the country would double climate funding for Pacific and Southeast Asian countries to $2 billion, which falls significantly short of what is considered Australia’s fair share.

Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez spoke about payment systems for environmental debt and strengthening of environmental commitments, underscoring the need for middle and high income countries’ participation.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro recorded an official statement claiming Brazil as a green powerhouse with the largest biodiversity on the planet, the most extensive forest cover and vast ocean areas. He also said that, to fight climate change Brazil had always been a part of the solution, not the problem.

With temperature rising above global average, Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba urged the world leaders to recognize the specific climate vulnerability in the mountains. President of Seychelles, Wavel Ramkalawan urged to act immediately and to make the change a real one in this battle to save the planet. Lazarus Chakwera, president of Malawi, mentioned that, the money pledged to the least developed nations by developed nations is not a donation, but a cleaning fee.

According to BBC reports, the outcomes of the COP26 Summit depend on Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and four other such influential dealmakers, who have been tasked with committing the 197 countries to the changes. The Bangladeshi PM represents the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a group of 48 countries who would be the worst sufferers of climate change.

PM Hasina has called on the developed countries to set ambitious targets to cut carbon emissions and implement plans to stop the warming of the planet. In her address to COP26, she placed four proposals mentioning that, Bangladesh compromised its development needs to update its NDC, scrapping 10 coal-based power plants projects involving $12 billion foreign investment and setting a roadmap to have 40 percent of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2041 alongside various other measures. She sought the transfer of the developed world’s clean and green technology at affordable costs to the most vulnerable countries, which she said also need development.

Sheikh Hasina also said that, the issue of loss and damage must be addressed, including global sharing of responsibility for climate migrants displaced by sea-level rise, salinity increase, river erosion, floods and droughts. Although Bangladesh contributes less than 0.47 percent of global emissions, the country is among the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Despite all odds, it established the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund in 2009 and doubled climate-related expenses in the last seven years, Hasina said. Currently, the government is preparing the National Adaptation Plan. The prime minister said her government is going to implement the ‘Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan’, a journey from climate vulnerability to resilience to climate prosperity.

From their speeches at COP26, global leaders made clear their expectation for COP26 to accelerate action by 2030. The Summit showed the Paris Agreement is working and made progress in key areas. Leaders also sent a clear signal that COP26 must keep 1.5C in reach. But with all these positives, the summit is yet criticized for not making the deal on quick action plans. Climate activist Greta Thunberg said that the COP26 climate summit is a failure, attacking the U.N.-brokered talks for turning into a public relations exercise. She also mentioned that the COP26 has turned into a PR event, where leaders are giving beautiful speeches and announcing fancy commitments and targets, while behind the curtain governments of the Global North countries are still refusing to take any drastic climate action.

It is true that, COP26 has brought the global leaders on the same platform in this battle to save the Mother Nature. But it is also true that, no solid action plans were set and no deals were signed yet. Promise was always there from the world leaders even after the 2015 Paris Agreement, but implementation was invisible. This time also the environmental activists, experts, victims and the people, from all around the world, are afraid that, all commitments will be useless.

Implementation of all commitments is highly required to save ourselves from the wrath of the nature. We have already seen the fair treatment of the nature to all nations in sharing natural disasters. We hope that, speeches turn into reality at least this time so that the future generations have a planet to survive.
The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA), Editor at Kishore Bangla and
Chief Patron, Bangabandhu
Shishu Kishore Mela

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