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200 countries gather in Glasgow, as COP26 climate summit opens on Sunday

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Oredola Adeola with agency reports

The United Nations(UN) climate summit in Glasgow officially kicked off on Sunday with appeals for actions and prayers. The two weeks of intense diplomatic negotiations by almost 200 countries are expected to focus on how to tackle the common challenge of intensifying global warming.

The Glasgow gathering, which started on Sunday running to November 12, will feature leaders from around the world highlighting their countries’ efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and deal with the effects of climate change.

Experts have cautioned that inequality overshadows the negotiations at COP26, suggesting that developing and poor nations including Nigeria, that are least responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, are hardest hit by climate impacts.

They noted that the failure of rich countries to cough up $100 billion a year -starting in 2020 – to help developing nations lower emissions and adapt — a pledge first made in 2009 — will complicate the already fraught talks.

Britain’s President for COP26 Alok Sharma, in his procedural opening remark at the COP26 UN climate conference on Sunday said, the Global COP26 climate negotiations are the “last, best hope” to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C alive.

He said, “We know that our shared planet is changing for the worse.

“If we act now and act together, we can protect our precious planet.

“We can move the negotiations forward and can also launch a decade of ever increasing ambition and action.

“We can seize the enormous opportunities for green growth for good green jobs, the cheaper, cleaner power.

“But of course we expected more. We need all of the G20 to come forward. They represent 80% of global emissions and that’s why every country matters, but the G20 matters particularly,” Sharma said at the opening ceremony.

He noted that China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, had just raised its climate targets somewhat.

UN climate Chief Patricia Espinosa, at the opening ceremony also urged participating nations to turn away from business as usual or accept that “we are investing in our own extinction”.

The outgoing President of the meeting, Chile’s Carolina Schmidt, in her remark charged officials to observe a minute’s silence for those who have died due to the coronavirus pandemic since the last U.N. climate conference was held in Madrid in late 2019, shortly before the outbreak began.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in comments on Saturday, cautioned that as things stand, there is a serious risk that Glasgow will not deliver.

“Several recent climate announcements might leave the impression of a rosier picture. Unfortunately, this is an illusion,”he said.

COP26 inherits its central goal from the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement, which saw countries agree to cap global warming at “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels, and 1.5C if possible.

Climate activists have noted that the deal left many crucial details to be worked out, while emissions reductions remain woefully insufficient to avert global warming.

G20 leaders of richer nations — currently meeting in Rome — have collectively endorsed the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

These countries that account for about 80 percent of carbon pollution, made this known in the final draft for the summit.

More than 120 heads of state and government have made the trip to Glasgow for the UN meeting, including US President Joe Biden, France’s Emmanuel Macron, India’s Narendra Modi and Australia’s Scott Morrison.

President Muhammadu Buhari with high-level Nigerian delegates on Sunday, departed Abuja for the climate summit.

President Xi Jinping of China, the world’s largest emitter, is not going to be present in Glasgow physically. Vladimir Putin of Russia, another major polluter, will also not be present physically.

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