Climate change: ‘Long and difficult road ahead’ to reduce global emissions, UN adviser warns

There is a “long and difficult road ahead” with 12 months to go until the landmark COP26 climate conference hosted by the UK, the UN secretary-general’s special adviser on Climate Action has said.

Selwin Hart was speaking ahead of a virtual climate ambition summit on Saturday when around 70 countries will reveal how much they plan to try to reduce emissions.

He told Sky News: “Emissions of greenhouse gases and climate impacts are all going in the wrong direction. We are still on course to exceed 3 degrees of warming before the end of the century.”

But he told Sky News the UN has a “fabulous” relationship with the UK and the COP President, UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma.

He said: “These are unprecedented times but yet we’ve been able to keep climate, despite the other challenges that we face globally, at the top of the global agenda.

“And what has been coming in terms of these new and ambitious announcements from all over the world really is a testament to the hard work and the high degrees of co-ordination that we’ve had with the COP President.

“We have a long and difficult road ahead of us but I’m certain we can deliver ambition at COP26.”

Around 70 heads of state and governments from around the world are expected to speak at the virtual climate ambition summit and make fresh commitments to help tackle the climate emergency.

It follows Britain’s recent announcement of what’s known as its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), promising to reduce its emissions by 68% compared to 1990 by 2030.

The UN summit will have a “rolling speaker format” with each country taking turns to say what it’s going to do – revealing their NDCs or net zero ambitions.

The UK will host the landmark COP26 Climate Conference in November next year in Glasgow – delayed a year because of the pandemic.

The mini summit comes exactly five years since the Paris Agreement when countries agreed to try to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels and well below 2 degrees. It is being co-convened by the UN, the UK and France.

The UK says the summit is a “monumental step” on the road to the COP. It will include speeches from the UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The UN says some other countries have had their emissions plans delayed by the pandemic but is “counting” on them to announce new pledges in the months ahead.

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