politics

'It's never too late – the next two weeks in Glasgow could stop the worst happening'


Former prime minister Gordon Brown says the next fortnight in Glasgow for the COP26 summit could stop the worst happening to the world – but leaders must be bold

Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown has warned the world it’s not too late to avert the worst of climate change

It is never too late to do the right thing.

And while the disastrous effects of climate change are already causing havoc in countries across the world, there is still time to stop the worst from happening.

It is not too much of over-statement to say that the next two weeks in Glasgow will decide this one way or the other.

The summit will confirm plenty of good work that is already happening.

The worldwide phasing out of coal will be announced this week – to be delivered in the 2030s.

As will the switch to electric cars and away from diesel and petrol engines.

And the planting of billions more trees to soak up carbon.

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Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has spoken out ahead of the summit
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Image:

PA)



But fundamentally, the difference between progress and catastrophe will hang on two make or break decisions.

Firstly, just how big each country’s carbon reductions will be during the 2020s.

And secondly, just how much financial help rich countries will give poor countries to cut out carbon

At the centre of the Paris accords of 2015 was an agreement that countries would ratchet up their carbon reduction ambitions at COP 26.

But now with China likely to refuse to bring its ‘cap’ forward or advance its ‘peak’ level forward from 2030, the best achievable outcome is to agree to ‘kick the cap down the road’.








Protests in Glasgow ahead of the COP26 summit
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Image:

Getty Images)



So our best hope here is not an agreement on new targets but that Glasgow lays the ground for a new target-setting conference in 2023.

But any commitments by low and middle income countries to transition to net zero emissions cannot and will not be forthcoming without a dramatic increase in global climate finance.

And unless the richest countries make a bolder financial offer to coastal states and developing countries hardest hit by climate induced emergencies, COP 26 cannot succeed.

A burden sharing agreement where rich countries agreed to pay based on their wealth and their culpability for historic emissions would have made sense but instead countries simply offer what they like.

As conference chair Britain should be taking the lead, but while Britain has doubled its developing countries funding to £ 2.3bn a year, it has bent the rules – and now seeks to do what no other country has attempted; to count loans transferred from the IMF to the UK and the UK back to the IMF as overseas development assistance.

But If we are to convince laggards – Australia , Canada, Japan, Italy – to do more or to convince America -whose $11bn commitment remains too small- to make good their shortfall in financial commitments , then we .Britian, must do better.

To reach $100bn, restore trust and bring developing countries on board we need a new initiative to break the deadlock and I look to John Kerry the US negotiator, President Biden and Mr Sharma to break the deadlock.

We must not give up but continue to fight for climate justice – and a world where economic progress and social justice go hand in hand with a sustainable environment.

I take heart from the millions of our fellow citizen especially a new generation of young people now aware of t the costs of pollution to their quality of life.

Paris, Kyoto and Rio are already on the history books of a cities linked to environmental breakthroughs.

I want Glasgow to take its place alongside them as a city associated with real and lasting change on the climate but it will require our political leaders to step up from today and show leadership and imagination.


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