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COVID delay, extreme weather events add to burden of COP26 expectations

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A view of the Group of Twenty (G20) Leaders’ Summit held in Rome, Italy. The 16th G20 Leaders’ Summit kicked off in Rome on Saturday. – XINHUA

ITALY: On two previous occasions, in 2009 and 2015, over 120 world leaders — Presidents, Prime Ministers, monarchs, heads of states — have gathered under one roof in a climate conference. Those have remained the largest single gatherings of world leaders anywhere.

A similar galaxy is in the Scottish city of Glasgow this week, for yet another climate conference, or COP 26, short for Conference of Parties (to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) which starts today.

That probably makes Glasgow appear in the same league as Copenhagen (2009) or Paris (2015). But the difference couldn’t be more stark.

Glasgow was supposed to be a “procedural” COP, its main job being to finalise the rules and procedures that would govern the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

These rules and procedures have mostly been finalized, but one crucial piece has been hanging fire because of strong disagreements: provisions relating to creation of a new emissions trading mechanism. Glasgow should be considered successful if it is able to deliver this much.

However, circumstances have put the additional burden of expectations on Glasgow, being held one year late because of the pandemic.

In the six years that the world has spent quibbling over the Paris Agreement, the climate crisis has worsened. There has been a spate of extreme weather events — floods, forest fires, heat waves, many of these in the developed world.

Also, the Glasgow COP comes months after the latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report warning that the world may be barely two decades away from becoming more than 1.5 degree Celsius hotter than pre-industrial times. This is a key milestone that, science says, the world needs to ideally avoid reaching, or at least delay as much as possible.

Two most talked-about potential deliverables from Glasgow are an agreement by every country to accept a net-zero target year sometime around the middle of the century, and a commitment to make their respective climate action plans stronger and more ambitious. But both these look highly unrealistic right now. – THE INDIAN EXPRESS

Monday, November 1, 2021 – 01:00

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