Climate change: Leaders, activists and scientists meet in Glasgow to ‘save the world’

The COP26 summit of world leaders, scientists and activists is meeting in the UK to address the pressing problems created by global warming

Campaigners in Glasgow are demanding swift action and solid commitments to address climate change
Campaigners in Glasgow are demanding swift action and solid commitments to address climate change

Global leaders, activists and scientists started meeting in Glasgow for what is billed as a ‘last chance’ summit to bring climate change under control and save the world.

Known as COP26, the summit hosted by the UK started yesterday and is expected to go on until 12 November.

The global meet comes some months after a UN panel of experts sounded a dire warning on global warming, which was described as a “code red for humanity”.

The world is warming because of fossil fuel emissions caused by humans. The impact is tangible and extreme weather events including heatwaves, floods and forest fires are intensifying.

Experts say the past decade was the warmest on record, and governments agree urgent collective action is needed.

The big question leaders will have to answer is what action needs to be taken and how fast, to really make an impact and slow down global warming.

Most countries will set out their plans to reduce emissions and these could include commitments for a faster switch to electric cars, speeding up the phasing out of coal power stations, cutting down fewer trees and protecting more people from the impacts of climate change, such as funding coastal-defence systems.

The UK is expecting up to 25,000 people in Glasgow, where campaigners are also expected to hold protests to press home the urgency required to act.

In an opinion piece penned ahead of the summit, Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela underscored the country’s commitment to decarbonise by earmarking 54% of EU funds from the Recovery and Resilience Plan to the cause.

But Abela also underlined the difficulty world leaders will have to grapple with in ensuring the transition towards a carbon neutral future does not create social inequality. “The many challenges to achieve this goal require us to ensure that the transition is just and does not create disparities and social injustice… We need to continue to engage in a constructive dialogue to identify options that will nudge behavioural change in the right direction without disrupting social cohesion.”

Experts expect world leaders to agree to a maximum increase in temperature of 1.5˚C to avoid climate catastrophe and wealthy countries are being asked to give $100 billion to help poorer nations transition and combat the impacts of climate change.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday the world is at “one minute to midnight” and insisted that leaders needed to move from “aspiration to action” to slow global warming.

He added the summit was a “critical” moment for him, and said an ambitious outcome was still “in the balance”.