After the official opening of COP26 yesterday, Monday saw a busy schedule kick off with events across multiple pavilions and the launch of World Leaders Summit. There’s a lot to get through in today’s review but stick around and you will learn about:
- More CHEC delegates arrive and first impressions
- The World Leader’s Summit Opening Ceremony
- National statements from World Leaders
- China’s President Xi Jinping’s Letter to Boris Johnson
- Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior Granted Permission to Sail up the Clyde
More CHEC Delegates Arrive and First Impressions
More members of the CHEC delegation arrived in Scotland today. Despite the long entrance queues, members of the team were able to get inside, take a look around and get familiar with the spaces they’ll be for the next few weeks.
Below we’ve a short video from the CHEC delegates sharing their first impressions of COP26 which is then followed by photos taken throughout the day.
CHEC’s Ian Douglas Takes Part in University of Waikato Event
Over in New Zealand, the University of Waikato began their CHEC supported COP26 Events Programme. The two week programme includes daily updates from COP26 provided by CHEC’s Emily Robinson as well as daily webinars. The first webinar, “Setting the Scene – what’s to come!”, featured CHEC’s very own Ian Douglas. Ian gave a fascinating talk on climate change alongside Hon. Nanaia Mahuta, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ian Douglas, Mayor Hamish McDouall, Cr Jennifer Nickel, Margaret Evans and Tom Roa.
A recording of the event can be viewed here: CHEC’s Ian Douglas Speaks at University of Waikato COP26 Event.
The Opening Ceremony of the World Leader’s Summit
At 12pm, the opening ceremony of the World Leader’s Summit begun. With all eyes watching, world leaders were asked to take their seats as a recording from Global Goals Voices for Change by Project Everyone was played.
This was followed by a wonderful performance on the Scottish small pipes by Brìghde Chaimbeul and a great poem by Yrsa Daley-Ward which carried the message to the World Leaders that “nothing will be saved without you”.
Sandwiched between both performances was a video, narrated by scientist Brian Cox, sharing the message that Earth may be the only place in the galaxy where intelligent life exists and thus “we must consider ourselves and our world to be inconceivably valuable”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was then introduced as the leader of the host nation of COP26. His speech covered a lot. From James Bond to a nod to Greta Thunberg’s “Blah. Blah. Blah.” – Boris crammed a lot into his speech. Arguably, however, the core message from his speech was whether the developed world would live up to it’s duty to help everyone to tackle climate change. He admitted “we have the technology and can find the finance” but says that what we need to know is “whether we have the will”.
His full opening speech can be viewed below:
Following Boris Johnson were a number of speeches from climate activists all around the world. We’ve listed the speakers with a snippet of their speeches below:
- Walelasoetxeige Paiter Bandeira Surui (Brazil) – “Indigenous people are in the front line of the climate emergency, and we must be at the centre of the decisions happening here. We have ideas to postpone the end of the world.”
- Brianna Fruean (Samoa) – “The real question is whether you have the political will to do the right thing, to wield the right words, and to follow it up with long overdue action.”
Next up came the Secretary General of the UN, António Guterres. The Secretary General’s message was simple:
“We stop it or it stops us. And it’s time to say ‘enough’. Enough of brutalising biodiversity. Enough of killing ourselves with carbon. Enough of treating nature like a toilet. Enough of burning and drilling and mining our way deeper. We are digging our own graves.”
A short film entitled “Earth to COP” was then premiered. The film can be viewed below:
Following the film, Prince Charles then took to the stage. He echoed calls that “time has quite literally run out” and says “we know what we must do”. He continued to say that emissions need to be reduced urgently and that our current fossil-fuel based economy needs to be radically changed.
COP26 People’s Advocate, Sir David Attenborough, was next up. “We are already in trouble” stated Attenborough who’s impassioned and emotional speech was accompanied by a fascinating and eye-opening video presentation. He questioned:
“Is this how our story is due to end? A tale of the smartest species doomed by that all too human characteristic of failing to see the bigger picture in pursuit of short term goals”
The Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, was then welcomed. Her speech has already been shared far and wider for its incredible passion and courage in calling out developed countries for not playing their part. The Prime Minister accused countries of making climate commitments based on technology yet to be invented and stated that the pandemic has shown us that “national solutions to global do not work”. This speech had everyone at CHEC reflecting and it’s been described as a “must watch” which you can do so below:
We then heard from climate campaigners from Chile and Egypt before receiving a powerful message on behalf of the people of world living with a disability. The message, delivered by Eddie Ndopu, stated that the 15% rightly “refuse to be rendered invisible in the climate action conversation” and highlighted that the impacts of climate change are “disproportionate3 for disabled people”.
Italy’s Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, then spoke. He shared how climate change can “tear us apart” and called for a quickening up of the commitment to keep global temperatures under 1.5 degrees.
Yrsa Daley-Ward then welcomed back to introduce a film written by Delphine. The film can be viewed below:
The ceremony was then closed by Kenyan climate activist Elizabeth Wathuti who left the World Leaders with a powerful message: “The will to act must come from deep within”.
The opening ceremony of the World Leader’s Summit can be viewed in its entirety here: World Leader’s Summit, Opening Ceremony.
National Statements from World Leaders
Following the opening ceremony, national statements followed from World Leaders. We’ve rounded up the top news stories and highlights from them all.
US and President Joe Biden
President Biden’s speech left few details for commentators to analyse. While he acknowledge that this “is the challenge of our lifetime” he provided little detail on to how this challenge would be approached.
India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi
PM Modi provided the biggest news of the day up to the point of his speech. He set out a number of climate promises that India will commit to:
- increase non-fossil energy capacity to 500GW by 2030
- fulfilling 50% of its energy requirements from renewable sources by 2030
- reducing its total projected carbon emissions by 1 billion tonnes by 2030
- reducing the carbon intensity of its economy by 45% by 2030
- achieving the target of net zero emissions by 2070
However, the net zero by 2070 commitment has already been met with criticism and disappointment as one of the goals of COP26 was to achieve countries committing to net zero by 2050.
Canada and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
PM Trudeau spoke about the deadly wildfires that completely destroyed the town of Lytton in Canada earlier this year. He said that “What happened in Lytton can, and has, and will, happen anywhere. How many more signs do we need? This is our time to step up and step up together.”
However, with projects like the Alberta Tar Sands showing no signs of slowing down, it’s hard to take these words at face value.
Australia and Prime Minister Scot Morrison
PM Morrison reconfirmed Australia’s efforts to achieve net zero by 2050. He added that “Cleaner technology solutions must out-compete existing technologies if they are to be successful.”
However, as similar to Canada, Australia has a huge fossil fuel industry that is opposed to a climate positive transition.
Brazil and Minister of the Environment, Joaquim Leite
Brazil, another one of the world’s worst polluters and drivers of deforestation, are not attending the Conference through President Jari Bolsonaro. However, through Minister of the Environment Joaquim Leite has sent a pre-recorded video which has shared Brazil’s, somewhat positive, pledges:
- To reduce emissions from 43% to 50% by 2030
- Moving forward the target to end illegal deforestation from 2030 to 2028
- Reaching carbon net zero by 2050
China’s President Xi Jinping’s Letter to Boris Johnson
President Xi Jinping’s absence from COP26 has been a major talking point. However, he has instead sent a letter to Boris Johnson. The bad news is that the letter brings no new climate commitments. Instead, it reiterates China’s current ambitions to reach peak carbon emissions before 2030 and to achieve net zero by 2060.
Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior Granted Permission to Sail up the Clyde
In other news, Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior was finally granted permission to sail up the River Clyde. The ship, which is carrying activists from Namibia, Uganda, Mexico and Bangladesh, will now be able to carry the activists to COP26.
More information can be found here: Youth climate activists on board the Rainbow Warrior granted permission to sail to COP26
The Queen’s Message to World Leaders
While Her Majesty the Queen was unable to attend COP26, a video recording has been shown to world leaders instead. She highlighted that we are now in a time of action as opposed to a time of words. While also reiterating the hope that the Summit could create a “safer, stabler future” for the planet.