COP26 cop out?

Making Glasgow matter

Build back better. Blah, blah, blah. Green economy. Blah, blah, blah. Net-zero by 2050. Blah, blah, blah. This is all we hear from our so-called leaders. Words that sound great but so far have not led to action. Our hopes and ambitions drown in their empty promises,” lamented youth climate activist, Greta Thunberg at the lead-up to COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

Closer to home, the Head of the Roman Catholic Church in Fiji, Archbishop Peter Loy Chong recently spoke of the need for individual responsibility: “We need people to wake up and live correctly. Our politicians are saying a lot about climate change but allowing people to do the exact opposite. We need to impress the urgency of the Climate Crisis. We need our leaders at the COP26 to act as if the world is about to end.”

Pacific Islands delegates are now readying to depart for this year’s Conference of the Parties (COP) in Glasgow. The meeting under the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has been preceded by a number of lead up events, where the Pacific position has been strong and united, and perhaps best articulated by Pacific Islands Forum Chair and Fiji Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, who told leaders, “Come with commitments to become net-zero before 2050. Do not come with excuses. That time is past.”

More than 100 world leaders will meet in Glasgow for the first few days of the COP, a handful of them from the Pacific. COVID-19 related border closures and the sheer expense of the exercise means some Pacific leaders are unable to attend. After the high-level segment, the real work amongst officials and environment ministers will begin to make meaningful commitments. What are the key issues the Pacific will be taking to the conference?

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