GLASGOW – A leader of the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP) has offered a direct assessment to kick off the most important United Nations climate change conference (COP26) on Sunday.
“Quite frankly, we are not where we need to be and I think that’s something we need to be very honest about,” Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Human Rights, told reporters. climate change, ahead of the World Leaders Summit. . âWe see it all together. Our track record shows an increase of around 16% in emissions by 2030, when we should arrive at a decrease of 45%. It’s a fact.”
Espinosa cited the lack of commitment from leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) countries to take more aggressive climate action as a major headwind. The G20 OK to end public funding for overseas coal-fired power generation, but failed to set a nationwide coal phase-out target, with clear opposition from China and the United States. India, among the biggest polluters in the world.
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G20 countries account for about three quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions.
China, the world’s largest producer of coal, makes it its main source of electricity generation. And while President Xi Jinping announced that Beijing would stop funding coal projects internationally at the United Nations General Assembly in September, he has resisted pressure to set a timetable to phase out its use in his country while the country increases coal production this year to meet its electricity needs.
Espinosa acknowledged that China has yet to increase its climate commitments or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The country has pledged to peak its carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and reduce its carbon intensity – emissions per unit of GDP – by 65% ââfrom 2005 levels, but Beijing’s stated target achieving carbon neutrality by 2060 lags far behind major economies, including the United States.
âThere is a strong determination to fulfill the commitments that [Chinese officials] do … of course, I hope they can succeed and that we can encourage them to come and bring this date forward as much as possible, âsaid Espinosa. âIt’s definitely a challenge. These huge populations have very complex social, cultural and political realities. “
China is not the only problematic country when it comes to the climate. The latest UN assessment estimates The combined national climate pledges put the world on track for a 2.7 degree Celsius temperature rise by the end of the century, well beyond the 2 degree maximum countries pledged in Paris six years ago.
A global energy crisis threatens to further complicate the outlook for COP26, as leaders come under pressure to slow the transition to clean energy amidst supply shortages and soaring utility costs.
COP President Alok Sharma played down the headwinds, saying pledges to end coal funding were proof that “we are making coal history.”
“If this press conference had taken place a year ago and I had told you that is how far we would have gone, I suspect you might have been skeptical,” he said. “Ultimately, advancing clean energy is something that benefits each country individually.”
Akiko Fujita is a presenter and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @AkikoFujita