As world leaders gather in Glasgow for COP26, the crucial climate conference, President of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly Abdulla Shahid has warned that on climate change “we are not only on the wrong track but on the edge of the cliff." He also underlined the need for a “final brave decision” to save humanity.
The COP26 summit from October 31 will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
“My message is very short, that we are not only on the wrong track. But we are on the edge of the cliff,” Shahid told PTI in an interview here.
He said nations have the science, technology and resources to combat climate change. “We need that final brave decision to save humanity.”
Shahid, also the foreign minister of Maldives, also expressed hope that after the COP26 Summit, “we will be able to come out with a much firmer commitment than we have now on the 1.5 degrees... My hope is that the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) will be much more firm and ambitious than they already are. And my hope is that from Glasgow all the leaders collectively will give a message of hope, that ‘Yes, we will save humanity’.”
Shahid will travel to the United Kingdom to attend the UN Conference on Climate Change, COP26, in Glasgow.
On October 26, Shahid had presided over a High-Level meeting on ‘Delivering Climate Action for People, Planet and Prosperity’ at the UN General Assembly, just days before the Glasgow conference that begins on October 31 and will run through November 12. The event heard from more than 70 Heads of State, Heads of Government and Ministers on actions to solve the climate emergency.
Shahid said he wanted to have the high-level meeting to build up momentum on the journey to Glasgow and the debate would highlight that while the world has the science, technology and resources to combat climate change, “what is lacking is commitment.”
Through the meeting, he wanted to give a final push and infuse energy into this journey.
“And I am hopeful. I want people, leaders travelling to Glasgow to go there not to disappoint humanity, but to go there with rays of hope from all their countries so that humanity will have the confidence coming out of Glasgow,” he said.
Amid the dire climate situation across the world, Shahid added that he can understand the “frustration” and “disappointment” of the youth because they will ultimately inherit the planet. “But they themselves will be the decision-makers very soon. My appeal to them is don't lose ambition, don't lose hope and don't lose the optimism that they have and the trust they have in humanity.”
In his address to the high-level meeting, Shahid had told world leaders that he felt it was important – even in his Presidency of Hope – to open the meeting with blunt realities.
"My hope, after all, is not rooted in blind optimism, or in diminishing the gravity of the situation. I am from the Maldives, a country whose very existence is threatened by rising sea levels. Our people, and all islanders, are vividly aware of this threat,” he had said.
Shahid also noted that “we have not reached the goal of USD 100 billion per year in climate financing” and as per the ‘Climate Finance Delivery Plan’, jointly produced by Germany and Canada and published by the UK COP26 Presidency.
He said the developed nations are set to be three years late in meeting the pledge. “Any hope of meeting the pledge will only be possible beginning 2023...Our efforts must be aimed at not only going beyond the pledge but also guaranteeing at least USD 1 trillion in support to developing countries by 2030.”
In his address to the High-Level meeting convened by Shahid, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had said that the climate crisis is a “code red” for humanity and governments around the world face a moment of truth when in six days, world leaders will be put to the test at COP26 in Glasgow. “Their actions — or inactions — will show their seriousness about addressing this planetary emergency.”
Noting that the warning signs are hard to miss, Guterres said pollution kills 9 million people every year and every day, dozens of species go extinct.
"Scorching temperatures are turning farmlands into parched landscapes. Cities and entire countries are watching sea-levels rise around them. Increasing temperatures will make vast stretches of our planet unliveable by the century’s end.”
Guterres had voiced concern that despite these alarm bells ringing at fever pitch, there is evidence that Governments’ actions so far simply do not add up to what is so desperately needed.
“We are still on track for a global temperature rise of 2.7°C. A far cry from the 1.5°C targets to which the world agreed under the Paris Agreement. A target that science tells us is the only sustainable pathway for our world. And one that is entirely achievable.
“If we can reduce (global) emissions by 45 per cent compared to 2010 levels this decade. If we can achieve global net-zero by 2050. And if world leaders arrive in Glasgow with bold, ambitious and verifiable 2030 targets, and new, concrete policies to reverse this disaster,” Guterres had said.
(With PTI Inputs)