JA Senior International Correspondent
Editor’s note: This past week, global leaders, with the exception of China and Russia, met to discuss climate change. As a part of her on-going “When?” column, JA Senior International Correspondent Anne Sulton, Esq. weighs in on the importance of the conference.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference UK 2021, a/k/a COP26, is underway in Glasgow and will continue through November 12. Reportedly nearly 30,000 world leaders in politics and business, scientists, and activists are attending this international event.
Absent are delegates from China and Russia – two of the world’s major polluters and among the largest emitters of planet-harming emissions. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated that “there is a serious risk that Glasgow will not deliver” and fail to reach its goals.
The COP26 goals include gaining global commitments on reaching net zero emissions by the year 2050, adapting to protect communities and natural habitats, and sufficiently financing efforts to address climate change.
USA President Joe Biden was among those speaking during the COP26 World Leaders Summit. He promised the USA will do its part to reduce planet-harming emissions, announcing the U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan.
According to the White House press release, “More than 100 governments have now joined his Global Methane Pledge launched with the European Union to reduce the world’s methane emissions 30% from 2020 levels by 2030.” The press release includes comments from leaders in business, labor, climate change advocacy organizations, and others applauding President Biden’s methane reduction plan.
However, the press release does not mention that the USA is continuing its plans to sell new leases for exploration of oil and gas on millions of acres of public lands. Oil and gas extraction produces large amounts of methane.
Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley also addressed world leaders. Prime Minister Mottley reminded the power brokers that the world currently is on a path for global temperatures to rise by 2.7 degrees Celsius. This is nearly twice as high as the 1.5 degrees Celsius rise considered the point of catastrophic destruction for many island nations, including Barbados. She encouraged financial commitments beyond the $50 billion promised for climate adaptation measures, imploring the richest to invest $500 billion annually for 20 years to help the poorest protect their lives and livelihoods.
Prime Minister Mottley passionately spoke about the hardships encountered by those currently most impacted by climate change, asking: “Are we so blinded and hardened that we can no longer appreciate the cries of humanity.” Her powerful speech can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PN6THYZ4ngM.
United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson was among those seeming to nod his head in agreement with Barbados Prime Minister Mottley’s message. He looked genuinely concerned about the plight of the most vulnerable as she spoke.
However, the United Kingdom is poised to reopen a huge coal mining facility closed many years ago. The arguments in favor of reopening the coal mine include the need for coal to manufacture steel beyond the year 2035, the benefits of creating a few hundred jobs in an economically distressed community, and the advantages of reducing coal imports from Australia and North America.
Unfortunately, it appears Greta Thunberg is correct again. This teenage activist from Sweden joined a protest outside the COP26 meeting site. She stated: “Inside COP, there’s just politicians and people in power pretending to take our futures seriously. … That is not leadership. … We say no more blah, blah, blah.”
“When will leaders lead?” as Prime Minister Mia Mottley asked as she concluded her remarks during the World Leaders Summit.