In the speech made at UNESCO’s Paris headquarters this morning, Alok Sharma also said that “keeping 1.5 alive” is not “a slogan but a matter of survival”, highlighting the fact that the response of G20 nations will be “make or break” at COP26, putting pressure on leaders to honour climate finance promises.
Ahead of the Paris Agreement six years ago, developed countries committed to mobilise $100bn a year from 2020 to support developing countries cut their carbon emissions, minimise the impact of climate change, and adapt their economies to deal with its impact.
In his speech, Sharma described this $100bn figure as “totemic” and though he said the world is “now within touching distance” of the figure, he added that “thinking about this does keep me awake at night”.
He emphasised in his speech that without the necessary finance, tackling climate change would be “nigh impossible”.
“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 that is down to leaders. It is leaders who made a promise to the world in Paris six years ago. And it is leaders that must honour it.
“Responsibility rests with each and every country”, he said, “and we must all play our part. Because on climate, the world will succeed, or fail, as one”.
Referencing the passion and anger shown by young climate activists at the Youth4Climate conference last week, Sharma said: “Now is the time to redeem ourselves”.
As well as putting pressure on leaders to honour the $100bn pledge, the COP26 president highlighted that he wants COP26 to see concrete action to deliver on plans to reduce emissions by 2030, and reach net zero by mid-century, including agreements on reducing coal, support for electric cars, protecting trees, and reducing methane emissions.
Sharma’s speech comes as 400 organisations representing at least 45 million nurses, doctors, and health professionals worldwide - about three quarters of the global health workforce - have signed an open letter to world leaders warning that the climate crisis is the single biggest health threat facing humanity.
Yesterday, the World Health Organisation also released a new report, The Health Argument for Climate Action. It argues that countries can only ensure a long-term recovery from the pandemic by implementing ambitious climate commitments, and outlines ten recommendations for governments on how to “maximize the health benefits of tackling climate change in a variety of sectors, and avoid the worst health impacts of the climate crisis”.
These recommendations include promoting sustainable food supply chains and more nutritious diets, placing health and social justice at the heart of the COP26 talks, and guiding a “rapid transition to renewable energy, to save lives from air pollution”.