Glasgow, 2 November 2021 (PA Media/dpa/MIA) – Crucial COP26 climate change talks are beginning to gather “significant momentum” with a series of key announcements, the British government has said.
After a series of increasingly stark warnings by Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the cost of failure for the future of the planet, Downing Street struck a notably more upbeat note on day two of the international gathering in Glasgow.
British officials were particularly encouraged by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment to slash India’s carbon emissions by 2030, with half its energy set to come from renewable sources.
They also welcomed a declaration by 110 countries – including Brazil – to halt and reverse the process of deforestation.
Meanwhile, scores of countries have signed up to a US-EU initiative to cut methane emissions by 30 percent by the end of the decade, in what is seen as one of the fastest ways of reducing the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Johnson’s official spokesman said persuading countries like Brazil to “stop chopping down rainforests” was a “massive success,” while India’s ambitious commitments would significantly reduce emissions.
I think we are starting to see some significant momentum over the past day and a half as we see some real tangible commitments announced,” the spokesman said.
“What is vital is that we continue to use the entire two weeks of COP to push forward to get success at all levels.
“The prime minister will remain closely involved in that work over the next two days. A large number of cabinet ministers will be involved as well.”
The spokesman acknowledged there were still some difficult negotiations ahead – most notably on climate finance.
There is pressure on developed nations to do more if they are to meet the delayed target of giving 100 billion dollars a year to developing nations to support green development and mitigate the inevitable effects of global warming.
There are also calls for richer nations to go further on climate finance, with Modi demanding that developed countries make one trillion dollars available “as soon as possible today.”
“This is not an easy thing to do. Nor is it a foregone conclusion. There will be some very difficult negotiations in the coming days,” the spokesman said.
“We are not complacent. This is not a done deal by any means.”
The optimism coming from the British government was echoed by US climate envoy John Kerry, who said he had never seen such urgency, commitment or energy in climate talks.
“We’ve already achieved an enormous amount at COP, in ambition, money, a whole bunch of new initiatives,” he said.
“Frankly, we’re a day and a half into this and I’ve seen more energy and more commitment and more urgency than I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been doing this since 1988.”
Johnson is holding a press conference at the the Scottish Event Campus before returning to London following the two-day leaders’ event at start of the COP26 gathering.
The British leader arrived in Glasgow warning that the aim of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius – set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement – would be over if the talks in Scotland fail.
He made clear his frustration with the slow progress at the G20 summit in Rome over the weekend in the run-up to COP26.
However, at an event on Tuesday, he hailed the declaration on deforestation as the end of the “great chainsaw massacre” of the world’s forests.
“Today is not just a vital win in the struggle to contain global temperature increases, it is also a huge economic opportunity,” he said.
“This is the long-term sustainable path to maintaining to ending the loss of our forests, protecting our sacred biodiversity and helping to keep alive the ambition of 1.5 degrees by the end of the century.”