American Civic Life

‘Last, Best Hope:’ Leaders Launch Crucial UN Climate Summit

October 31, 2021

GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — A crucial U.N. climate summit opened Sunday amid papal appeals for prayers and activists’ demands for action, kicking off two weeks of intense diplomatic negotiations by almost 200 countries aimed at slowing intensifying global warming and adapting to the climate damage already underway.

As U.N. officials gaveled the climate summit to its formal opening in Glasgow, the heads of the world’s leading economies at the close of their own separate talks in Italy made pledges including stopping international financing of dirty-burning coal-fired power plants by next year. But much of the agreement was vague and not the major push some had been hoping for to give momentum to the climate summit.

Government leaders face two choices in Glasgow, Patricia Espinosa, head of the U.N. climate office, declared at the summit’s opening: They can sharply cut greenhouse gas emissions and help communities and countries survive what is becoming a hotter, harsher world, Espinosa said. “Or we accept that humanity faces a bleak future on this planet.”

“It is for these reasons and more that we must make progress here in Glasgow,” Espinosa said. “We must make it a success.”

India Logan-Riley, an Indigenous climate activist from New Zealand, had a more blunt message for negotiators and world leaders at the summit’s opening ceremony.

“Get in line, or get out of the way,” Logan-Riley said.

Alok Sharma, right, President of the COP26 summit shakes hands with UNGA President Abdulla Shahid as outgoing COP president Carolina Schmidt, second right, and Patricia Espinosa, UNFCCC Executive-Secretary look on during the Procedural Opening of the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, Pool)

Alok Sharma, right, President of the COP26 summit shakes hands with UNGA President Abdulla Shahid as outgoing COP president Carolina Schmidt, second right, and Patricia Espinosa, UNFCCC Executive-Secretary look on during the Procedural Opening of the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, Pool)

People are security and COVID checked at an the entrance to the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

People are security and COVID checked at an the entrance to the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

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