AFP, published on Monday 01 November 2021 at 20:02
The world must act now to “save humanity” from the catastrophic impacts of global warming, urged the UN secretary general on Monday at a long-awaited climate summit that left many observers hungry.
“It is time to say” Enough “, said Antonio Guterres in front of around 120 leaders from all continents and thousands of delegates and observers gathered in Glasgow for the COP26 climate conference which is to last two weeks.
“Enough of brutalizing biodiversity. Enough of killing ourselves with carbon. Enough of treating nature like a toilet. Enough of burning and drilling and extracting ever deeper. We dig our own graves,” he said. hammered, denouncing our “addiction to fossil fuels”.
“Humanity has long played time on the climate. It is one minute to midnight on the apocalypse clock. We must act now,” added British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, host of the summit, warning against the “uncontrollable” anger that a failure of this COP26 would provoke, six years after the Paris Agreement.
“Our children, the unborn children and their children (…), if we fail, they will not forgive us”, he insisted, repeating the accusations of “blah blah” addressed recently by the activist Swedish Greta Thunberg to world leaders.
“Enough blah blah, enough exploitation of people and nature,” the face of the youth movement for the planet repeated during a demonstration near the conference center, while a petition from young people calling for immediate action exceeded one million signatures online with a simple message: “betrayal”.
But the dozens of leaders who have followed one another on the rostrum have above all reaffirmed their objectives and insisted on the urgency to act without necessarily announcing new commitments, to the chagrin of observers who hoped for more than words in the face of the multiplication of fires, heatwaves and floods that hit the planet.
“It takes more to turn words into action,” commented Thomas Damassa, Oxfam.
Long-awaited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose country has still not submitted its new commitments as provided for in the Paris agreement, made announcements to him, because “today, to save the world, we have to take big steps ”.
In particular, he strengthened the objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions for 2030, and committed to carbon neutrality, but for 2070. Twenty years later than what the UN advocates.
During the G20 summit this weekend in Rome, the major economies of the planet responsible for nearly 80% of global emissions, could not agree on a precise date for this carbon neutrality, evoking “the middle of the century “.
Even if the G20 had reaffirmed in unison the objective of limiting warming to + 1.5 ° C compared to the pre-industrial era, and had agreed to end subsidies to coal-fired power plants in the abroad, this had convinced neither the NGOs nor Antonio Guterres who expressed his “disappointed hopes”.
China, the world’s largest emitter, has set itself a carbon neutral target for 2060. And President Xi Jinping did not make the trip to Glasgow, a few days after the official filing of his new climate commitments, which resume without them. reinforce the promises made over the past year.
The challenges of COP26, which is to last two weeks, are numerous, each more difficult and explosive than the next in a context of a global pandemic which has weakened poor countries already vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
First of all, ambition. The current commitments of some 200 signatories to the Paris Agreement, if respected, would lead to a “catastrophic” warming of 2.7 ° C according to the UN.
– “To survive” –
While some balk at the acceleration of the transition which requires massive investment, Joe Biden on the contrary underlined the incredible opportunity “that this represents for the world economy, assuring that the United States was now ready to” show the example “after the temporary exit from the Paris Agreement under Donald Trump.
As for French President Emmanuel Macron, he called on the “biggest emitters” of greenhouse gases to “enhance their ambition within 15 days” of COP26, referring in particular to Russia and China.
Another hot topic is the still unfulfilled promise of rich countries to increase their climate aid to developing countries to one hundred billion dollars per year from 2020.
The objective has de facto been postponed three years to 2023, reinforcing the crisis of confidence between the North, responsible for global warming, and the South, victim of its effects.
“For those who have eyes to see, ears to listen, and a heart to feel: to survive, we need (to limit warming) to + 1.5 ° C; 2 ° C would be a death sentence for the populations of Antigua and Barbuda, Maldives, Fiji, Kenya or Mozambique, Samoa and Barbados “, launched Monday the Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley from the podium.
“We do not want this death sentence and we have come here to say + redouble your efforts, redouble your efforts +”, she insisted. “We want to exist in a hundred years”.