The last and best hope: "Leaders launch crucial UN climate summit

The last and best hope: "Leaders launch crucial UN climate summit

The United Nations climate summit opened Sunday amid papal appeals for prayer and activists' demands for action by nearly 200 countries to slow global warming and adapt to climate damage already underway.

As UN officials kicked off the climate summit with its official opening in Glasgow, heads of the world's leading economies made pledges after their separate talks in Italy, including halting international financing for coal-fired power plants before next year.

Espinosa said government leaders face two options in Glasgow, as Patricia Espinosa, head of the United Nations climate office, declared at the summit opening: that they could cut greenhouse gas emissions sharply and help societies and countries survive becoming a hotter and harsher world. "Or accept that humanity faces a bleak future on this planet."

"For these reasons and more, we must make progress here in Glasgow," Espinosa said. "We have to make it work."

India's Logan Riley, an indigenous climate activist from New Zealand, delivered an even sharper message at the summit's opening ceremony to the world leaders.

Line up, or get out of the way," Logan Riley said.

But G20 leaders have made more vague pledges than resolute pledges, saying they will seek carbon neutrality "by or around the middle of the century." They also agreed to end public funding for coal power generation abroad but did not target phasing out coal domestically - an apparent reference to China and India.

G20 nations account for more than 3/4 of the world's climate-damaging emissions, and G-20 host Italy and Britain, which hosts the Glasgow conference, have looked for more ambitious goals stemming from Rome.

But the major polluters, including China and Russia, have already made it clear that they have no immediate intention to follow through on US and European pledges to eliminate all forms of fossil fuel pollution by 2050. Russia said on Sunday it was committed to its 2060 target.

Speaking to reporters before leaving Rome, US President Joe Biden called it "disappointing" that G20 members Russia and China "fundamentally failed" with commitments to tackle the scourge of climate change ahead of the UN climate summit.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson struck a bleak tone, saying G20 leaders had "progressed slowly," curbing global warming. Still, the goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C (2.7°F) - struck in a historic deal at the end of an agreement with Paris Climate 2015 - was in danger of slipping out of reach.

Some observers said the G-20 pledges were far from enough.

"This weak statement from the G-20 is what happens when developing countries that bear the full force of the climate crisis are pushed out of the scene," said Mohamed Addo, Director of Power Shift Africa. "The world's largest economies comprehensively failed to put climate change high on the agenda ahead of COP26 in Glasgow."

As the opening ceremony in Glasgow officially begins talks, known as COP26, the expected launch comes on Monday, when leaders from around the world will gather to layout their countries' efforts to reduce emissions from burning coal, gas, and oil, and the agreement. With the mounting damage from climate change.

The leaders of China and Russia - were not expected to attend the summit, although senior officials from those countries planned to participate. The meeting with Biden, whose country is the world's largest climate polluter after China, comes when a split within his Democratic Party is forcing him to scale back ambitious climate efforts.

At one Vatican, Pope Francis urged crowds assembled in St Peter's Square: "Let us pray that those at the summit hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor."

Negotiators will push countries to step up their efforts to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius this century compared to pre-industrial times.

Alok Sharma, the British government minister chairing the climate talks, said the climate summit remains "our last and best hope of keeping 1.5 on hand".

Scientists say the chances of achieving this goal are slowly fading away. The world temperature increased more than 1.1°C, and current projections based on planned emissions reductions over the next decade will reach 2.7°C by 2100.

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