COP26 Climate Summit: Why it's important and the first results

 President Volodymyr Zelensky. Photo credits to Office of the President
Ekonomichna Pravda
Glasgow, Scotland
COP26 Climate Summit: Why it's important and the first results

The 26th UN Climate Conference, COP26, began in Glasgow, Scotland, on 1 November. For two weeks, 120 world leaders will discuss global warming and actions to combat it.

What is COP26?

The UN Climate Conference was first formally held in 1995 to implement the UN Convention on Climate Change. Since then, representatives of countries and organizations from around the world have met annually to discuss steps to combat global warming: both future and accomplished.

In 2015, the participants signed the famous Paris Agreement, which declares the goals of countries on the path to climate neutrality. Ukraine was one of the parties to the commitment and recently announced its renewed contribution to the agreement.

Namely, it has set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35% by 2030 compared to 1990. This contribution will also be presented at a conference in Glasgow.

The 26th event is dedicated, in particular, to the progress of the signatories on the way to the set goals. Five years after Paris, countries will report on their successes and failures, as well as present steps towards climate neutrality.

In addition to discussing green finance, energy and afforestation for two weeks, the conference is expected to result in a collection of Paris rules. That is, detailed instructions that will implement the Paris Agreement.

"If the summits solved all the problems, we would not need the previous 25"

At the historic climate summit, statements were expected to be heard about the impending catastrophe, as the pandemic significantly complicated the implementation of the main goal of the UN - to prevent temperatures from rising by more than 1.5 degrees.

During his speech, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the world was tied to the "doomsday device" and warned colleagues that they would face the curse of future generations if they did not act decisively.

According to him, if the summits solved all climate problems, we would not need 25 previous summits.

He also announced $ 4.1 billion in financial assistance to developing countries to build a "green" economy.

Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, recalled the findings of the latest report on nationally determined contributions: "at best, the temperature will rise well above two degrees."

At the same time, he optimistically noted that a number of countries have promised to achieve climate neutrality by the middle of the century, many are also abandoning coal, and cities are pursuing a course of carbon neutrality.

India has announced net-zero by 2070, promising to match greenhouse gas emissions with atmospheric emissions. Vietnam plans to cope by 2050, Thailand - in 2065.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has called on governments to make carbon emissions more expensive because the planet can no longer "pay". Instead, French President Emmanuel Macron called on the wealthiest countries to set an example for the rest, as they are the biggest polluters.

There are no three at the summit: Chinese leader Xi Jinping, as well as Russian and Turkish presidents Vladimir Putin and Tayyip Erdogan.

The former, on the other hand, issued a written statement calling on wealthy countries to set an example and make more efforts, but did not voice new goals. China is the world's largest polluter and therefore one of the key participants in the conference.

The second leading polluter of the planet is the United States, represented by President Joe Biden. He apologized for the previous administration (Donald Trump - EP), which withdrew from the Paris Agreement, and declared the "existential threat to humanity" due to climate change.

"To overcome global warming, we need global warming between nations"

Ukraine as one of the first signatories to the Paris Agreement is also represented at the summit. On the first day, President Volodymyr Zelensky also announced Ukrainian renewed contribution to the agreement on achieving carbon neutrality by 2060.

He said that "agreements are worth nothing if they are just empty words", and compared it to non-compliance with the security guarantees of the Budapest Memorandum (on the renunciation of nuclear weapons - EP).

Because of this, he continued, the planet received "two eco-bombs in the center of Europe": the occupied Crimea and part of Donbass.

Zelensky also mentioned the gas issue in his speech, emphasizing that the implementation of the Paris Agreement is under threat - the gas shortage has caused a significant rise in prices, forcing countries to use coal.

"To combat global warming, we need global warming between nations," the president said. He also reminded that Ukraine ranks 4th among 45 parties to the UN Framework Convention in terms of emission reductions.

Zelensky supported a number of summit initiatives, including the Declaration on Forest and Land Use and Access to Long-Term Financing under the Green Climate Fund.

In addition to the speech, the President managed to hold a number of meetings with foreign colleagues. For example, with the Emir of Qatar on the supply of liquefied natural gas to Ukraine, and with the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau - on the energy crisis and the threat from Russia's Nord Stream-2.

The president also met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

This story was originally published in Ukrainian in Ekonomichna Pravda on November 2, 2021. It was produced as part of the 2021 Climate Change Media Partnership, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews' Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security.

Banner image: President Volodymyr Zelensky / Credit: Office of the President.

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