Picture of delegates listening to Boris Johnson

01.11.2021

Around 120 leaders gather at COP26 in Glasgow for ‘last, best chance’ to keep 1.5 alive

5 minute read

  • COP26 President Alok Sharma calls for immediate action and solidarity to ensure Glasgow delivers on the promise of Paris 
  • Leaders addressed by young climate activists, indigenous peoples and business leaders from across the globe as they focus on keeping 1.5C within reach
  • New country and finance announcements due, including additional UK package to mobilise billions of private investment into green, resilient infrastructure in developing countries

Around 120 leaders came together in Glasgow today (Monday) at the start of COP26, launching two weeks of global negotiations to help determine whether humanity can drive forward the urgent action needed to avoid catastrophic climate change.

As the world experiences record temperatures and extreme weather pushing the planet dangerously close to climate catastrophe, the need for urgent action at COP26 has never been clearer. 

Addressing leaders at the first major global gathering since the COVID-19 pandemic, COP President Alok Sharma said: “The science is clear that the window of time we have to keep the goal of 1.5℃ alive , and to avoid the worst effects of climate change, is closing fast. But with political will and commitment, we can, and must, deliver an outcome in Glasgow the world can be proud of.”

Leaders were also addressed by poet Yrsa Daley-Ward, whose specially commissioned poem Earth to COP includes the lines: “Anything less than your best is too much to pay. Anything later than now, too little, too late. Nothing will change without you.”

And campaigner, Kenyan environment and climate activist Elizabeth Wathuti who said: “We need you to respond with courage to the climate and ecological crisis…for these next two weeks – which are so critical for the children, for our species, for so many other living beings – let us step into our hearts.”

COP26 brings the major emitting countries face to face with the countries most vulnerable to climate change. The World Leaders Summit will send a clear signal to negotiators to be as ambitious as possible and agree to a negotiated outcome that accelerates action this decade.

The Summit will also underscore that the Paris Agreement is working, with increased commitments on finance, emissions and adaptation as we see the first crank of the Paris Agreement ratchet. 

Moving from the promise of Paris, announcements in key sectors will start to show how Glasgow will deliver. This includes new commitments on consigning coal to history, electric cars, reducing deforestation and addressing methane emissions.

Building on the publication of the $100 billion delivery plan, which the Presidency requested the Canadian and German governments lead, finance will remain a key priority. Discussions will centre on how the countries most vulnerable to climate change can access the finance needed to deliver climate adaptation and boost green recovery from the pandemic. 

Further to the commitment to mobilise finance, the opening of COP26 saw several new finance announcements to progress action on the $100 billion and address adaptation finance.

The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a funding package, as part of the UK’s Clean Green Initiative, to support the rollout of sustainable infrastructure and revolutionary green technology in developing countries. This includes:

  • A package of guarantees to the World Bank and the African Development Bank to provide £2.2bn ($3bn) for investments in climate-related projects in India, supporting India’s target to achieve 450 GW of renewable energy installed capacity by 2030, and across Africa. 
  • The UK’s development finance institution, CDC, will commit to deliver more than £3bn of climate financing for green growth over the next five years. This will include £200m for a new Climate Innovation Facility to support the scale-up of technologies that will  help communities deal with the impacts of climate change. This is double the amount of climate finance CDC invested in its previous strategy period from 2017-2021. 
  • The FCDO-backed Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) will also commit more than £210m in new investment today(MON) to back transformational green projects in developing countries such as Vietnam, Burkina Faso, Pakistan, Nepal and Chad.

Later Prime Minister Johnson will host a roundtable on ‘Action and Solidarity’ bringing campaigners on climate together. This is expected to include Samoan climate campaigner Brianna Fruean, Brazilian climate campaigner Walelasoetxeige Paiter Bandeira Suruí, and Kenyan youth activist Elizabeth Wathuti, together with some of the biggest emitting and climate vulnerable nations to set the tone for negotiations at COP26.  

The World Leaders Summit will continue tomorrow with further national statements and Leader events on action on forests and land use and accelerating clean technology, innovation and development.

Notes for editors:
  • Official photography from COP26 is available to download here:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/186938113@N07/ 
  • The world needs to secure global net zero by 2050 and halve emissions by 2030 to keep 1.5 degrees of warming in reach.
  • To do this the UK COP26 Presidency is calling on countries to set ambitious 2030 emissions reduction targets and take action to:
    • consign coal power to history
    • accelerate the move to clean electric vehicles
    • end deforestation
    • finance the green transition and help the most vulnerable countries
  • Almost 200 countries will come together in Glasgow, in the biggest international summit the UK has ever hosted.
  • Negotiations, run by the UN, will focus on securing the final parts of the Paris Agreement, setting national targets for reducing emissions by 2030 and reaching net zero. 
  • Coming out of COP26, we need to see a negotiated outcome that responds to the emissions gap and sets the tone for the next decade to keep 1.5C alive.