Start of the world climate conference: will the wake-up call be heard?

As of: 31.10.2021 02:19 a.m.

The climate prognoses are bleak, time is of the essence: Great expectations are being cherished for the World Climate Conference that begins today in Glasgow. Whether they will be fulfilled is completely open.

By Imke Koehler, ARD-Studio London, currently Glasgow

It was an important and, for many participants, emotional moment when the Paris Climate Agreement was signed in 2015. It was the first legally binding agreement in which all states undertake to protect the climate. The contract stipulates that global warming should be limited to well below two degrees, if possible to 1.5 degrees compared to the pre-industrial era.

Imke Koehler
ARD-Studio London

To achieve this, states should come up with new plans with more ambitious goals after five years. Because the conference had to be postponed last year due to the pandemic, now is the time for it. This is another reason why the COP26 is so important, because there is a great need for action and the forecasts are bleak.

Alok Sharma, President-elect of the World Climate Change Conference, who will open COP26 in Glasgow today, speaks of a wake-up call. If climate change is not brought under control now, humanity will face a catastrophe.

Greenpeace demands more ambition from the EU

While more procedural matters will be on the agenda at the conference today, such as setting the agenda and the formal election of Sharma as President of the UN Conference, around 120 heads of state and government are expected tomorrow and Tuesday. Then it should show to what extent the wake-up call was actually heard. Lisa Göldner, climate expert from Greenpeace, said in advance:

I am positively surprised, for example by the USA. It is an incredibly important signal to the world that Joe Biden is now resolutely tackling climate protection, after years lost under the Trump administration. Where improvements still need to be made are in China, India, the world’s major emitters, but the European Union also has to go a step further when it comes to climate protection. “

Rising instead of falling emissions

In fact, as it stands now, emissions will continue to rise through 2030. In order to meet the 1.5 degree target, the states would have to cut emissions in half compared to 2010.

Before addressing this problem, many visitors who want to come to Glasgow have to solve another problem: they need to find accommodation. Kate Jones has organized families willing to host guests privately. 1000 households take part, but as it turns out, that’s not enough:

We set up the COP homestay website so that visitors from the global south and young people and those with little money can come to the conference. But in fact everyone who wants to come to the conference now goes to this page because there are no other options. We are completely overrun. We have a waiting list of three thousand people. “

Delegates cannot find accommodation either

Recently, hundreds of delegates were apparently also affected by the overnight problem. Since their countries were originally on the red list, they had expected to stay in the government-provided hotels to serve their quarantine there. Suddenly their countries are no longer on the red list, but there are no more free hotel rooms in Glasgow.

At least one concern is now off the table: The threatened rail strike in Scotland could still be averted. Otherwise, many participants might not even have reached the conference location.

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