The United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP) 26 has just ended, and we have witnessed key messages, crucial issues, debates and commitments taken from the Glasgow Climate Change Conference COP26. The COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, is a pivotal moment for world’s leaders to deliver their climate promises and reshape a future global climate trajectory. World leaders are expected to put forward high level ambition and action towards securing global net zero and keeping 1.5 degrees in reach; adapting to protect communities and natural habitats; and mobilising finance.
There were strong calls for greater ambition, and several developed countries made new financial pledges. There were a few new NDC or net zero pledges. There are estimates that the new NDCs and net zero pledges, taken with NDCs and net zero pledges submitted before the COP, would lead to 1.8°C to 2.4°C of global warming by 2100, if these pledges are fully implemented. Furthermore, throughout COP 26, many other declarations and alliances were announced, in Presidency-led events or in press conferences.
Some highlight messages from World Leaders taken from the COP26 World Leader’s Summit Opening Ceremony are very crucial to bring our attention to this urgent climate agenda.
Boris Johnson – Prime Minister UK addressed that we emit carbon with the cost of biodiversity loss, disrupted settlements due to man-made natural disasters and the developed world must recognise the “social responsibilities” to catalyse a green industrial revolution, such as the importance of phasing out of coal, striving for sustainable transport, effective climate financing and planting more trees. Without urgent action, irreversible impacts of climate change will increase. And he reminds us of the bleak future of a world potentially faced by our future generations.
“The anger and impatience of the world will be uncontainable, unless we make this COP26 in Glasgow the moment when we get real about climate change, and we can get real on coal, cars, cash and trees.”
‘2 degrees more and we jeopardise the food supply for hundreds of millions of people. 3 degrees and you can add more wildfires and cyclones – twice as many of them, five times as many droughts and 36 times as many heatwaves. 4 degrees and we say goodbye to whole cities – Miami, Alexandria, Shanghai – all lost beneath the waves.” “…But the people who will judge us are children not yet born, and their children.”
Following to Boris Johnson, Antonio Gutteres – Secretary General of UN echoed the concerns of GHG emissions leading to increased temperature, by indicating how are still not on track with the Paris Agreement agreed upon 6 years ago with rising sea-levels, melting glaciers and disappearing trees with Amazon rainforests “emitting more carbon than they absorb.” Therefore, lack of concrete action to deliver net zero by 2050 could lead to a 2.7 degree increase, creating devastating impacts that over the years have been felt by the most vulnerable, such as those living along coastlines deemed a failure, which is “not an option” for them or anyone.
“The six years since the Paris Climate Agreement have been the six hottest years on record. Our addiction to fossil fuels is pushing humanities to the brink.” “This is an illusion. The last published report on Nationally Determined Contributions showed that they would still condemn the world to a calamitous 2.7 degree increase. Young people know it..Small Island Developing Sates – and other vulnerable ones – live it”
While it is easy to resort to alarmism, there are tangible efforts and collaborative commitments to tackle climate change, such as the Cities Race to Zero campaign participated by currently over 700 cities around the world to cut carbon emissions and be independent from coal. Private sectors are also recognizing their roles in capacitating governments, civil society and communities to carry out climate solutions.
“A number of countries have made credible commitments to net-zero emissions by mid-century. Many have pulled the plug on international financing of coal. Over 700 cities are leading the way to carbon neutrality. The private sector is waking up.”
Youths are raising their voices, and pushing governments to act concretely and holding them accountable, as future generations that will keep the climate action journey alive.
“The climate section army – led by young people is unstoppable…And I assure you they are not going away, and i stand with them.”
Guterres urged not only governments but private sectors and multilateral development banks to fully realize their roles in making that $100bn climate finance a reality. However, he is also going to establish a Group of Experts to analyse how net-zero commitments by non-state actors can truly contribute to tackling climate change. Overall, climate financing should be adaptive and inclusive to the needs of those most vulnerable to the impacts of a changing climate.
“All donors must allocate half their climate finance to adaptation. Those suffering the most – namely, Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States – need urgent funding. More public climate finance. More overseas development aid. More grants. Easier access to funding. And multilateral development banks must work much more seriously at mobilizing greater investment through blended and private finance “
Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles addressed that Emission reduction is most urgent, and Prince Charles emphasised on maximising investments for a green transition to our economies and societies, mentioning nature-based solutions, and switching to clean renewable energy. In his remarks, Prince Charles recommends the interconnection of improving global economy and tangible action to tackle climate change. In his speech, he calls for business leaders to collaborate with national governments to deploy trillions into enabling countries, cities and individuals to find just climate solutions. This is important since, as he stated that businesses need the “clear market signals” to be able to invest without sudden constraints or “goalposts”. In other words, according to him, governments and businesses working hand-in-hand is the only ‘real prospect’ to tackling climate change.
“Investing in green transition is the only ‘real prospect’ to tackling climate change.”
“We also know that countries, many of whom are burdened by growing levels of debt, simply cannot afford to “go green”. Here, we need a vast military-style campaign to marshal the strength of the global private sector…investment is needed to help transition from coal to clean energy.”
“With trillions at its disposal – far beyond global G.D.P. and, with the greatest respect, beyond even the governments of the world’s leaders – it offers the only real prospect of achieving fundamental economic transition.”
Meanwhile Patricia Espinosa – UNFCCC Executive Secretary, gave remarks a day before the COP26 world leaders summit opening ceremony. She addressed that the past 6 years have been the hottest 6 years on record after the establishment of the Paris Agreement, although it has also inspired nations to continuously update their NDCs, especially in reducing emissions by 2030. Most of all, this needs heavy contributions from developed countries.
“The recently-updated UN Climate Change NDC Synthesis Report showed that emissions continue to rise. That’s the bad news. The good news is it also showed that for those nations providing a new and updated NDCs, emissions are projected to decrease by 2030. But we need even more ambition and all nations on board, especially the highest emitters in the G20 responsible for around 80 per cent of global emissions. “
The science behind climate change is irrefutable, it’s visible and felt across all levels of societies around the world, in the environment that they’re living in. Therefore, she is urging all Parties to acknowledge the science in their decision-making process, taking into account the many lives that depend on the environment and its resources to live a prosperous, just, meaningful lives.
“Success is possible because we have the science.”
“The data is unequivocal: climate change is widespread, rapid, intensifying and already impacting every region on Earth, both on land and in the oceans.”
“I call upon all Parties to use science to inform their decisions at COP26 and act upon it. Studies and statistics tell one story, but we must look beyond the numbers to the human lives they represent. “
She also stressed the crucial message that The COP26 Conference in Glasgow should act as an “Age of Resilience”.
“Let Glasgow be the starting point of this new era — this new Age of Resilience — and let COP26 mark its beginning.”
From the above key messages, it is showcasing momentum from the whole of society, and focus on key issues to drive ambition and action. The COP26 will accelerate urgent action to secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5°C within reach; help communities and natural habitats to adapt to the impacts of climate change; demonstrate that public and private finance is being mobilised for the climate; and bring countries, businesses, civil society, and citizens together to deliver on the Paris Agreement.
Highlighting the urgency to limit global warming under 1.5 degrees, is one of the main climate action agenda of cities and local governments across regions, which comprises many urbanised cities. That fact alone has exposed Asian urban cities to the dangers of climate change because of specific geographical characteristics and being in such close proximity to nature.
Unites Cities and Local Governments Asia Pacific (UCLG ASPAC) as the Global Covenant of Mayors (GCoM) Secretariat for Southeast Asia in taking role to lead coordination and consolidation of GCoM in Asia Pacific, acknowledges that the region collectively could contribute to the overall climate efforts internationally. In addition to that, UCLG ASPAC understands the role of cities and local governments in building climate resilience due to the current condition. Therefore, UCLG ASPAC has been giving continuous support to cities and local governments in achieving short-term and long-term climate agenda implementations.
BY KM Team