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At COP26, nations speed climate action but leave world still headed for dangerous warming

2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference
Climate change
Posted at 3:46 PM, Nov 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-13 17:11:39-05

GLASGOW, Scotland — Exhausted negotiators from nearly 200 nations struck a deal Saturday intended to propel the world toward more urgent climate action, but without offering the transformative breakthrough scientists say must happen if humanity is to avert disastrous planetary warming, according to The Washington Post.

Saturday’s agreement, however, does not achieve the most ambitious goal of the 2015 Paris accord — to limit Earth’s warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels.

Instead, delegations left Glasgow with the Earth still on track to blow past that threshold, pushing toward a future of escalating weather crises and irreversible damage to the natural world. And representatives from hard-hit nations feared that the deal could leave their people facing an existential threat.


  • Organizers acknowledged that the hard-fought agreement doesn’t go nearly far enough. But they argued that the progress made here creates a road map to a safer future and “keeps 1.5 alive.” Yet with global temperatures already up more than 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit), and extreme weather wreaking havoc around the world, it remains to be seen whether this agreement will be sufficient to deal with mounting calamities inflicted by climate change.
  • Negotiators leave Glasgow with key questions unanswered: Can nations muster the political will to deliver on the soaring rhetoric that marked the summit’s start? And can the lurching progress of these annual conferences keep pace with the problem they were designed to solve? The conference ended on a sour note when delegates from China and India proposed a last-minute change to crucial text around moving away from coal, saying they would agree only to “phase-down unabated coal,” rather than “phase out.”
  • The final agreement at COP26 did recognize the scientific reality that putting the brakes on climate change will require nations to almost halve emissions in the next decade, rather than merely commit to far off “net zero” targets. The decision also lays out a plan to resolve disputes around rules for global carbon markets that allow investors to buy and sell emissions reduction credits — a topic that for years has tripped up delegates at climates talks.

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