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COP26 climate summit creates new goals to fight climate crisis

World leaders gather to make commitments to cut global emissions.

By Emily Faith Grodin, Staff Writer

The COP26 Climate Summit, also known as the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, took place late October in Glasgow, Scotland, where world leaders came together to solidify their individual countries' approach to avoiding the worst effects of climate change.

The goal of the two-week summit was to collectively ensure that the average global temperature increase is limited to a 1.5 degree celsius rise by the end of the century. Beyond that temperature, scientists believe the risks of climate change will increase, and could potentially cause droughts, extreme heat waves and agricultural crises. The summit kicked off with two days of speeches from some of the most prominent leaders in the climate crisis, including President Joe Biden. Biden referred to the moment as an opportunity to reshape the way humans live in harmony with nature.

“We are standing at an inflection point in world history,” said Biden. “Climate change is an existential threat to human existence.”

Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados and U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivered similar sentiments in their statements. Guterres said that action must be taken now, before “we [dig] our own graves.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India made the announcement that the world’s second most populous country would be carbon neutral by 2070. Modi’s statement marks the first time India has set such a goal. Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia talked about the work his country is doing to cut emissions.

On day two, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission announced that nearly 100 nations made a global commitment to cut 30 percent of methane emissions by 2030 compared to 2020. Biden called this an enormous opportunity to create jobs and make meaningful climate goals a “core part of our global economic recovery.” He also took the opportunity to call out the leaders of China and Russia for their absence at the summit, calling it a mistake that they did not attend.

On day two, the conference announced that more than 40 countries had joined the first international commitment to reach “near zero” emissions in steel production by the year 2030, including the U.S., U.K., China and India. Steel production is one of the top producing carbon dioxide industries in the world.

The remainder of the climate summit was spent allowing countries to negotiate with one another about how they pledge to contribute to the fight.

In the U.S., very ambitious goals have been set to fight the climate crisis, such as reaching 100 percent carbon pollution free electricity by 2035, and reducing carbon pollution from the transportation sector. But so far Congress has been unable to pass the legislation necessary to achieve those goals. Valley’s Political Science Professor Anthony O’Regan suggests that for the most part the country has widespread support for combating climate change, but that with the introduction of specific policies, there is less agreement on how to act.

“The U.S. has a political system, regardless of party affiliation, that is much more sensitive to state, local and regional interests, say than the European Union,” said O’Regan.


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