Cop26: it’s finally here

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For almost three decades, world governments have met nearly every year to forge a global response to the climate emergency. This year is the 26th iteration, postponed by a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and it is being hosted by the UK in Glasgow.

Guardian environment correspondent Fiona Harvey tells Science Weekly host Madeleine Finlay why this year’s summit is so critical. Under the landmark Paris agreement, signed in 2015, nations committed to holding global temperature rises to “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels, while “pursuing efforts” to limit heating to 1.5C. To meet those goals, countries also agreed on non-binding national targets to cut – or in the case of developing countries to curb the growth of – greenhouse gas emissions in the near term, by 2030 in most cases.

The UN reported recently that current nationally determined contributions (NDCs), including those that have been newly submitted or revised by the US, the EU, the UK and more than 100 others, are still inadequate. They would result in a 16% increase in emissions, far from the 45% cut needed. So much more remains to be done.

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The president for Cop26, Alok Sharma attends the opening ceremony in Glasgow, Scotland.

Photograph: Christopher Furlong/PA

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