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U.N. summit expected to secure more ambitious commitments to address climate change

U.N. summit expected to secure more ambitious commitments to address climate change


Heads of state, experts and civil society leaders will meet for the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) from October 31 through November 12, 2021, to coordinate actions for tackling climate change.

“COP26 is not a photo op or a talking shop. It must be the forum where we put the world on track to deliver on climate. And this is down to leaders,” COP26 President-designate Alok Sharma, pictured, said during a UNESCO meeting in Paris ahead of the Glasgow, Scotland, summit, according to COP26. “It is leaders who made a promise to the world in this great city six years ago, and it is leaders that must honor it. Responsibility rests with each and every country, and we must all play our part. Because on climate, the world will succeed or fail as one.”

The Glasgow gathering is gaining attention as it gets closer, with thousands marching in Brussels in mid-October to demand that world leaders take bolder actions to fight climate change, according to The Associated Press (AP). The summit’s goal is to do exactly that by securing “more ambitious commitments” from attendees, including an effort to mobilize financing to fight climate change and better protect natural habitats and vulnerable communities, AP reported.

The summit has taken place annually since 1995. During COP21 in 2015, delegates adopted the Paris Agreement on climate change, pledging to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius during the 21st century. Delegates from each nation that signed the Paris Agreement are expected to attend COP26, according to The Washington Post newspaper.

Conversations to address climate concerns of Pacific island leaders have already begun. Sharma met in July 2021 with delegates from the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and other Pacific representatives to discuss climate challenges specific to small island nations. Among the world’s smallest emitters of greenhouse gases, these nations face some of the most extreme impacts of climate change, according to COP26. Pacific delegates highlighted the ocean’s role in regulating temperatures across the globe and underscored their reliance on the ocean for culture, livelihood, food security and sustainability of coastal communities, according to COP26.

“We need to back nature with the same energy we have seen in relation to the clean technology revolution,” Zac Goldsmith, the United Kingdom’s minister for Pacific and the environment, said, according to a COP26 report. “As governments plan their economic recoveries from COVID-19, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reconcile our economies with the natural world and deliver a greener, safer and more prosperous future.”

For its part, the United States in October 2021 outlined plans for each of its federal agencies — including the U.S. Department of Defense — to adapt to and address climate change.

“Climate change is an existential threat to our nation’s security, and the Department of Defense must act swiftly and boldly to take on this challenge and prepare for damage that cannot be avoided,” U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement, pledging to integrate climate considerations into the military’s operations, planning and decision-making — including training and equipment. “We do not intend merely to adapt to the devastation of climate change. We will work with nations around the world to meet the threat.”