The countdown to Cop26: can world leaders save the planet?

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Three weeks from today leaders will gather in Glasgow for the Cop26 climate summit. But will their individual pledges to reduce emissions carry enough weight to avert the growing threat of catastrophic global heating?


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Next month, government officials from every country in the world will gather in Glasgow for the Cop26 climate conference to agree not on how to avert global heating (it’s too late for that) but to try to find ways to limit the damage that we’re living with, and that our children will live with.

The conference, delayed by a year because of Covid, is the first chance since leaders met in Paris in 2015 to hammer out an agreement on how their countries can limit emissions.

The Guardian’s George Monbiot is a veteran of climate conferences and tells Michael Safi that, while his expectations are low, the only way the planet can avert catastrophe is to agree radical and far-reaching changes to our way of life.

Following the failure to reach a meaningful deal at the Copenhagen conference in 2009, Christiana Figueres was handed the job of executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and tasked with getting a deal in Paris. She tells Michael that in order to get an agreement that everyone can sign off on, one must consider every angle and go over every detail – right down to the size of the room and the shape of the tables.

For people around the world who feel powerless in the face of governments who are too slow to act, Monbiot has three words: “Mobilise, mobilise, mobilise.”

Climate strike In Milan, Italy - 1 October 2021. Photograph by Alexander Pohl/NurPhoto/Rex/Shutterstock

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