Boris Johnson sees Cop26 talks clawing back lost ground as extra time looms

United Nations climate conference in Glasgow has made some progress but there is a long way to go

Boris Johnson held out hope that Cop26 could deliver success in the fight against climate change on Tuesday, after a two-day opening summit of world leaders saw the number of countries setting net-zero commitments rise to nine in 10.

“I think what you are starting to see here is a sense of how actually you can deliver those cuts in CO2,” the British leader said. “The world leaders may be leaving, but the eyes of the world are on our negotiators and we have your numbers.

“Ninety per cent of the world has now signed up to net zero, including India. The most important thing they've said is they want to decarbonise their energy system by 2030 — that's a massive commitment.

“We need further action from countries around the world and we are certainly going to keep the pressure up.

“Everybody's working to keep the 1.5°C goal alive.”

The UK prime minister used a football match analogy to predict that the push for further gains could see the process going into “extra time” in search of a favourable outcome. “We've pulled back a goal, or perhaps even two, and I think we're going to be able to take this thing to extra time”, he said.

A blizzard of announcements on technology and methane restrictions emerged from the conference on Tuesday. The host country hailed the commitment by over 100 countries to end deforestation in the coming decade as the first big achievement of the conference in the Scottish city of Glasgow.

Leaders representing more than 85 per cent of the world’s forests pledged to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030. Among them are several countries with massive forests, such as Brazil, China, Colombia, Congo, Indonesia, Russia and the US.

A group of countries disproportionately affected by the climate crisis have demanded that nations commit to climate actions annually, rather than every five years.

The Climate Vulnerable Forum, including heads of state from countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific, convened on the second day of the Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow.

The Forum expressed alarm at “major emitting countries, [which had] failed to comply” with an obligation of the Paris Agreement, to update their own climate targets, known as Nationally Determined Contributions, and it urged countries to instead commit to yearly updates through to 2025.

The focus of the two-week process in Glasgow shifts from government leaders to finance and business from Wednesday. Former governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney said a list of more than 450 companies on the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) will come out on Wednesday.

Mr Carney, who set up GFANZ, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “This is focused on providing the financing that's needed globally to make the investments that we need to get to a net-zero economy.

“And it means bringing together financial institutions, whether they're banks, insurance companies, pension funds, from around the world, and having them commit to net zero.

“So, all of their money, whether they invest in a company or lend to a company, that those companies, those underlying companies, will themselves be reducing their carbon emissions, transitioning to net zero.”

Updated: November 2nd 2021, 6:27 PM
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