Climate summit chief says lagging G-20 nations 'must deliver'

Climate summit chief says lagging G-20 nations 'must deliver'
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The president of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) called on Group of 20 (G-20) countries that have not increased their climate change pledges to follow in the footsteps of other major countries like the U.S., United Kingdom and Japan.

"In Paris, leaders provided the world with consensus, with ambition and hope. But it was the beginning of the road," Alok Sharma said in a speech Tuesday at the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in Paris, where global climate talks were held in 2015.

"And in the on-going effort to tackle climate change and limit global warming, in 19 days from now the world will converge on the great city of Glasgow for the latest United Nations Climate Conference, COP26. And at that vital summit, the world must honour the promises made here in Paris six years ago," he said.

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Sharma said that in the six years since the Paris climate agreement was signed, the world has not done enough to combat climate change. He pointed to rising emission levels and the "code red for humanity" that was issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in August.

Sharma spoke of the communities he has visited around the world that have been devastated by climate change, including a town in Nepal whose residents had been driven out by both drought and floods from melting glaciers.

"I could relay many other heartbreaking testimonies I have heard, from communities under siege from a changing climate," he said.

Despite these grim accounts, Sharma acknowledged that some G-20 countries have made progress in working towards emission targets.

"The UK, France, Italy, Germany, the EU, Canada, the US, Argentina, Japan, South Korea and South Africa have done so. Now the rest must deliver," he said, reeling off a list that notably does not include China, India, Russia or Brazil. 

"We know that we can only tackle climate change if every country plays its part. So I say to those G20 leaders, they simply must step-up ahead of COP26," Sharma continued.

"So we are also urging countries to take the action needed to move to a cleaner world. To consign coal power to history, to accelerate the drive to clean electric vehicles, to end deforestation and to reduce methane emissions. All of which present historic opportunities to create jobs, create growth, and move to a healthier more secure world."

COP26 is set to take place from Oct. 31 to Nov. 11 in Glasgow, Scotland. The overriding priorities of this meeting will include keeping global temperatures from rising no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, increasing international financing for climate adaptation and meeting existing commitments to to provide $100 billion in international climate finance every year for developing countries.