‘1.5 degrees will slip from our grasp’: COP26 President Alok Sharma urges countries to deliver on Glasgow Climate Pact

First major address by Alok Sharma since UN Climate Conference will see Minister call on countries to set aside geopolitical tensions to tackle climate goals

COP26 President Alok Sharma has this morning urged countries to deliver on the promises they made at the COP26 Climate Summit, warning the commitments set out in the Glasgow Climate Pact could otherwise “wither on the vine”.

In his first major speech since the close of UN Climate Summit this afternoon, Sharma is to urge countries to meet the various climate commitments they made last autumn, as he sets out the priorities for the UK’s COP Presidency year, which runs until the start of the COP27 Climate Summit in Egypt next November.

“There is no doubt that the commitments we secured at COP26 were historic,” Sharma is to say. “Yet at the moment they are just words on a page. And unless we honour the promises made, to turn the commitments in the Glasgow Climate Pact into action, they will wither on the vine. We will have mitigated no risks. Seized no opportunities. We will have fractured the trust built between nations. And 1.5 degrees will slip from our grasp.”

In his address at the Chatham House think tank in central London, Sharma is to urge countries to deliver on the Glasgow Climate Pact commitments on climate financing, in particular pledges to ensure adaptation finance is doubled by 2025 and that countries work on a clear proposal and funding programme for a new loss and finance facility under the auspices of the Santiago Network.

He will also urge countries to deliver on their promise to update their national climate action plans this year to bring them into line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C temperature goal.

The Glasgow Climate Pact, signed by all countries at the COP26 Climate Summit, calls on parties to deliver strengthened national climate action plans – or nationally determined contributions (NDCs) in the UN jargon – in line with a 1.5C trajectory by the end of 2022, as well as step up efforts to “phase down” unabated coal power plants and end “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies. It also called on richer countries to meet their $100bn a year climate finance commitment and channel a greater proportion of funding towards adaptation projects.

Today, Sharma is to say that meeting the $100bn goal would be a priority for the UK Presidency team for the year ahead, alongside other measures designed to increase climate funding flows to poor and climate-vulnerable nations that can help them prepare for climate impacts and curb emissions. The UK will also work to support progress on developing a new climate finance goal for 2025 and onwards, he will explain, and help to broker more public-private partnerships that support climate action, akin to the innovative $8.5bn package to help accelerate South Africa’s clean energy transition that was unveiled by France, Germany, the UK, US and EU at COP26.

Sharma’s speech, which comes as the Minister gears up to meet UN climate body UNFCCC later this week to discuss implementation of the measures agreed at Glasgow, will stress the importance of countries continuing to work collaboratively on climate change despite growing geopolitical tensions on multiple fronts.

“At COP26 itself almost 200 countries came together and agreed the historic Glasgow Climate Pact,” Sharma is to say. “In doing so, they demonstrated that climate can create a space for cooperation amidst a splintered global politics, that the world can work together to improve our common future, to address major global challenges and to seize opportunities.”

The Glasgow Climate Pact was a product of international cooperation and a practical demonstration of Global Britain in action.”

Sharma is also set to detail how inclusivity and collaboration will be a key priority for the UK team over the coming months, explaining how his team committed to working hand in hand with COP27 President Egypt at COP28 President the United Arab Emirates, as well as businesses, youth and civil society to turn the various promises made in Glasgow into delivery plans.

Egypt is to take the baton of the COP Presidency from the UK next November, when the COP27 Climate Summit kicks off in Sharm-El Sheikh.

Sharma, who has visited both the UAE and Egypt in recent weeks, is also set to address the Major Economies Forum group of countries later this week, where he is expected to ramp up pressure on rich donor nations to support climate vulnerable countries.

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