Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow 

World leaders sound the alarm as COP26 opens in Glasgow

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson opens the long-awaited COP26 UN Climate Change conference in Glasgow, Scotland by warning that humanity has run down the clock on climate change, saying "it’s now one minute to midnight and we need to act now. "

By Susy Hodges

Boris Johnson's warning came in his speech opening the landmark conference whose outcome is widely seen as critical to averting the most disastrous effects of our planet’s rising temperatures, but those attending the conference face an uphill battle in securing an agreement to help limit the warming of our planet.

120 World leaders and 25,000 delegates from around 200 countries have come to Glasgow for this crucial conference that runs until November 12th.  The conference’s goal is to make real progress in the move towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. This is widely seen as the key level needed to avoid the most destructive consequences of global climate change. Experts are warning that unchecked rising temperatures would melt much of the planet’s ice, raise global sea levels and greatly increase the likelihood and intensity of extreme weather events like droughts and floods that would impact on the lives of millions of people, especially the poor.

Ahead of the COP26 summit, Pope Francis made a number of appeals for delegates to take the necessary steps to tackle the issue of global warming. In his Angelus address this Sunday, he urged those attending the summit in Glasgow to listen to “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” The Pope said he prayed that the conference would bring efficient responses and offer concrete hope to future generations.

His remarks at the Angelus echoed an appeal made last Friday in a BBC radio broadcast where he warned world leaders that time is running out to address climate change and called for “radical decisions” that would provide “effective responses” to the present ecological crisis.

The Holy See’s delegation at the COP26 conference is being led by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. In an interview before leaving for Glasgow, Cardinal Parolin said the conference must affirm the centrality of multilateralism and of action. 

Two days of speeches by world leaders will be followed by technical negotiations. Host Britain has billed the conference as a make-or-break moment and the scale of the challenge is daunting given the divisions among the world’s most powerful nations over how far and how fast to cut carbon emissions.  

Listen to the report by Susy Hodges


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01 November 2021, 16:07