‘Paris treaty goals still a long way off’

Diplomatic Correspondent

10 April, 2021 12:00 AM printer

COP26 President Alok Sharma has said the world is ‘a long way off’ from meeting the goals of the landmark Paris Agreement on Climate Change. 

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, is the 26th UN climate change conference scheduled to be held in the city of Glasgow from 1 to 12 November 2021 under the presidency of the UK.

British politician Alok Sharma made the remark while speaking during a global discussion on the ‘green’ transition in sectors such as energy, transport and food systems, held as part of the 2021 Spring Meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday.

“Oceans are warming, storms are intensifying, and yet we are a long way off meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement,” he told the virtual meeting.  “Unless we act now, the human, economic and environmental cost will dwarf anything that humanity has seen before,” he said.

COP26, which will be held this November in Glasgow, Scotland, aims to accelerate action towards the Paris treaty goals, which centre around limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels by curbing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a UN news.  

John Kerry, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, called the conference ‘the last best opportunity we have to get real and serious’. He particularly urged developed countries to step up efforts to reduce emissions.

“It is essential we raise ambition; we make Glasgow the next step in defining not what we’re willing to do but what we really need to do in order to be able to get the job done.”

For Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, COP26 represents an opportunity to put nature at the heart of the climate fight.  He called for banks to invest in nature, noting that spending so far has been minimal. 

“We cannot recover sustainably from coronavirus, eradicate global poverty, achieve net-zero emissions, or adapt to climate change, without investing in nature,” he said.  

Energy access must also be part of the green transition, according to Damilola Ogunbiyi, Chief Executive Officer at Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), a UN partner.  

Globally, nearly 800 million people do not have access to electricity, while 2.8 billion lack access to clean cooking sources, she said, which is equivalent to the populations of Africa, Europe and China combined.

To change their lives, she recommended that governments focus on policies in the areas of promoting renewable and sustainable energy, and on ease of doing business and regulations. Again, financing here is needed, together with commitment.

“We all see that globally, when we come together, just the amazing work we can do, and the Covid-19 vaccine is a perfect example,” said Ogunbiyi, who is also the special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All.

“We literally have to have a coronavirus vaccine response to help a lot of developing countries because it’s not that they don’t want to transition, or they don’t want to do the right thing. It’s a fact that if you do need to transition, there is a lot of funding that is needed.