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COP26 ends in Glasgow with ‘compromise’ climate deal, but ‘catastrophe’ still looms

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This picture taken on November 11, 2021 shows United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaking during a plenary session at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by AFP)

United Nations climate talks have ended with the vast majority of world leaders agreeing to make efforts to harness global warming by reducing gas emissions and gradually ending deforestation by 2030.

The UN's 26th climate "Conference of the Parties", or COP26, ended on Saturday, capping two weeks of talks in Glasgow, Scotland, where nearly 200 world leaders finally reached an agreement that for the first time targeted fossil fuels as the key driver of global warming.

In his closing remarks, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres commended delegates from around the world on reaching the agreement.

However, Guterres warned that the agreement reached at the summit was "not enough" to save the world, noting that saving the planet required greater effort.

"These are welcome steps, but they are not enough," Guterres said.

"Our fragile planet is hanging by a thread," the UN chief warned in a video address. "We are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe."

Guterres added that the agreement was a "compromise," and that "deep contradictions" remain.

He stressed that the nations that were most vulnerable to the impact of global warming needed more support.

Greenpeace International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan described the deal as "weak and compromised," but added that, "its very existence is nevertheless a breakthrough."

The COP26 summit failed to achieve the most ambitious goal of the 2015 Paris accord — to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

Instead, delegations left Glasgow with the Earth still on track to blow past that threshold toward a future of escalating weather crises and irreversible damage to the environment.

In a symbolic move, climate activists held a “funeral” for the COP26 summit at a Glasgow cemetery on Saturday.

Last weekend tens of thousands of environmentalists and climate activists marched in a climate justice rally.

Protesters gathered in Glasgow and other cities around the world to demand bold action by world leaders to save the planet.

Students, activists and climate-concerned citizens said they would continue the fight for climate justice elsewhere.

Swedish environmentalist Greta Thunberg dismissed the outcome of the COP26 summit, but vowed to never quit pushing for more action.

"The #COP26 is over. Here’s a brief summary: Blah, blah, blah," Thunberg tweeted on Saturday. "But the real work continues outside these halls. And we will never give up, ever."

The #COP26 is over. Here’s a brief summary: Blah, blah, blah.

But the real work continues outside these halls. And we will never give up, ever. https://t.co/EOne9OogiR

— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) November 13, 2021

Environmentalists had expected the COP26 summit to revive the Paris agreement and its goal of limiting warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Climate scientists have warned limiting warming to below that level is necessary to avert the most devastating impacts of climate change.

 


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