‘Lights are flashing red’: COP26 climate talks begin in Glasgow
The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) began in Glasgow on Sunday, with the U.K. hosts of the summit warning that “lights are flashing red on the climate change dashboard.”
COP26 President Alok Sharma addressed the delegates at the start of conference, telling them “I do not underestimate the challenge,” Reuters reported.
However, he added, “I believe that we can resolve the outstanding issues.”
Reuters noted that one factor hampering the conference was the G20 meeting in Rome that took place immediately before COP26, where major world powers committed to a 1.5-degree Celsius limit, but failed to come up with concrete measures to meet that goal.
“If the G20 was a dress rehearsal for COP26, then world leaders fluffed their lines,” Greenpeace International executive director Jennifer Morgan said.
U.N. climate chief Patricia Espinosa also acknowledged that the tough task at hand in moving the global economy to a greener future.
“The transition we need is beyond the scope, scale and speed of anything humanity has accomplished in the past. It is a daunting task. But humanity is a species defined by its ingenuity,” Espinosa said, encouraging the gathered delegates to “keep the big picture in mind.”
The high-stakes summit has been described by numerous officials as being the world’s last chance to meaningfully tackle climate change. On Saturday, Prince Charles said COP26 was the “last chance saloon” to save the planet.
“The future of humanity and nature herself are at stake,” Charles said at the G20 summit. “We must now translate fine words into still finer actions.”