On the 12th of December, five years after the Paris Agreement, more than seventy world leaders met online to talk about action on climate change. The meeting was organised by the United Nations (UN), the UK, and France. Its aim was to maintain the climate momentum until the postponed COP 26 Climate Change conference in Glasgow.
As Alok Sharma, UK’s business secretary reminded in his speech, we did not do enough to put the world on track to limit warming to 1.5°C and protect people and nature from the effects of climate change. That’s why, during this summit, no space was given to general statements and only countries willing to make more ambitious commitments had the right to take the floor. Antonio Gutteres, Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), kicked off proceedings calling world leaders to “declare a state of climate emergency in their countries until carbon neutrality is reached”.
During the meeting, strengthened national climate plans were announced. Twenty-four countries presented long-term strategies to meet carbon neutrality in 2050. In addition, some countries engaged themselves on shorter-term strategies:
• The UK, which is hosting next year’s UN Climate Conference, announced that it will cut emissions by 68%, within the next five years.
• China offered to reduce its emissions 65% by 2030.
• The EU announced its new goal of cutting net greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030.
The pandemic drastically slowed down our economies, but it did not stop climate change. In the following months, we have to ensure that green recovery plans are implemented all around the world and that we are not returning to a fossil-fuel dependent business as usual.