COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, kicked off in earnest today with the Opening Ceremony and World Leaders Summit.
The event, in actuality, officially started yesterday with the ‘Opening of the Conference’ at Scottish Events Campus in Glasgow.
This saw the U.K.s COP26 President, Alok Sharma, give a speech calling upon nations to work together to “launch a decade of ever-increasing action and ambition” to keep global warming below 1.5°C.
The UN’s top climate change official, Patricia Espinosa, also took the stage to reiterate the same sentiment, noting that if countries work together then “success is possible”.
World leaders arrived today for the Opening Ceremony, kicked off by Prime Minister Boris Johnson who warned, “we are one minute to midnight on the doomsday clock” and called on countries to pledge to net zero targets by mid-century.
The ceremony also saw speeches from Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, and Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley.
Young climate activists Brianne Fruean from the Pacific Islands, Elizabeth Wathuti from Kenya, and Txai Suruí from the Amazon Rainforest, all gave impactful speeches telling world leaders how climate change has affected their homes and stressed the need to act for future generations.
Today saw the start of the National Statements, which will continue throughout tomorrow. Here, every world leader attending gets the chance to talk about what COP26 means for them and what they hope to achieve.
Most notable of today’s speakers were U.S. President Joe Biden who said that the next few weeks in Glasgow “must kick off a decade of ambition” and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
India was the only large global economy to deliver on the Paris Agreements and, in his speech, PM Modi committed to net-zero by 2070. This is, however, much later than many would have hoped, especially given that they are one of the largest polluters in the world.
In better news, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison set more ambitious targets, vowing to invest in green technology to reach net-zero by 2050, in line with the scientific advice.
Leaders from smaller nations also spoke on the devastating effects already being caused by climate change. For example, Seychelles President Wavel Ramkalawan talked about the threat of rising sea levels to island nations, adding, “Let the change be a real one. The time to act is yesterday.”
The Leaders Event was also held, attended by most of the nations present as well as Antonio Guterres to represent the United Nations.
In this event, leaders got the opportunity to discuss progress made towards the Paris Agreement, hear the latest scientific, and talk about what they plan to do in the future.
The conference also saw leaders from nations experiencing the worst effects of climate change challenge some of the bigger polluters on whether their efforts are enough and how they will help them deal with the effects already being felt.
If you want to keep up with what’s going on at COP26, make sure you follow us on Twitter. We’ll also be writing these daily updates, so make sure to check back tomorrow for more.