Johnson urges world to keep up momentum against climate change

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Over 100 countries have agreed to cut their emissions of methane by 30 per cent by 2030…writes Vishal Gulati.

With the second and last week at Glasgow pivotal for world leaders who are hard at work on climate priorities — to keep global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as required by the 2015 Paris Agreement, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is urging countries to keep up the momentum on the fight against climate change at the COP26 summit.

The first week of the 26th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) under the UK Presidency came to a close on Sunday, which saw around 120 leaders gather for the World Leaders Summit as well as negotiators, officials and ministers come together to make progress on the shared goal of limiting global temperatures to 1.5 degrees.

In the first week good progress has been made so far, including new commitments to net zero by middle of the century, which means 90 per cent of the world economy is covered, triple the figure when the UK took on the COP Presidency.

More than 120 countries, covering 88 per cent of the world’s forests, have agreed to end and reverse deforestation. Countries representing more than 70 per cent of the world’s economy are committed to delivering clean and affordable technology everywhere by 2030 in the most polluting sectors.

Over 100 countries have agreed to cut their emissions of methane by 30 per cent by 2030.

Also the past week saw new commitments to increase finance to support developing countries to deal with the impacts of climate change and implement ambitious emissions-reductions plans.

More than 20 countries have made commitments for the first time to phase out coal power, including five of the world’s top 20 coal power-using countries, and at least 25 countries and public finance institutions commit to ending international public support for the unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022.

Forty-five nations have pledged urgent action and investment to protect nature and shift to more sustainable ways of farming, as well as over 100 countries now signed up to protect at least 30 per cent of the global ocean by 2030.

The views of over 40,000 young climate leaders have been presented to ministers, negotiators and officials.

Marking this halfway point in the summit, Prime Minister Johnson said: “There is one week left for COP26 to deliver for the world, and we must all pull together and drive for the line.

“We have seen nations bring ambition and action to help limit rising temperatures, with new pledges to cut carbon and methane emissions, end deforestation, phase out coal and provide more finance to countries most vulnerable to climate change.

“But we cannot underestimate the task at hand to keep 1.5C alive. Countries must come back to the table this week ready to make the bold compromises and ambitious commitments needed.

“Attention turns to negotiations this coming week. These negotiations are incredibly complicated, and notoriously hard. Teams from the UK and 195 other countries plus the EU will work to reach collective agreement on more than 200 pages of text.

“They will be negotiating the issues left open by the Paris Agreement in 2015, like the process for tracking how all countries are keeping their climate commitments and how we create a fairer global system so no nation is disadvantaged by being more ambitious on cutting emissions.

“Everyone has to agree, or nothing is agreed. But the progress in the first week of COP has put us in a strong position.”

The UK’s COP26 Presidency programme continues this week, with the spotlight put on transport, adaptation, gender, science, and cities and regions.

The UK has been leading the way and setting a high bar for other countries to follow — including being the first major economy to commit in law to net zero, setting one of the most ambitious targets to cut emissions by 68 per cent by 2030, phasing out coal power by 2024, ending the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, halting deforestation by 2030, and providing 11.6bn pounds in finance — with an extra 1bn pounds if the economy grows as forecast — to countries on the frontline of climate change.

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