Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and his Malawian counterpart Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera (pictured above) have directly blamed the western rich nations for their historical responsibility on African continent.
The leaders were speaking at the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference being held in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom. Nearly 120 world leaders gathered in Glasgow on Monday to address what scientists and health experts say is the world’s biggest crisis: climate change.
This COP26 summit brings parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
President Buhari and President Chakwera from Malawi stood out at the opening of the Summit of Heads of State and Government at COP26.
For example, the President of Malawi, Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, who directly pointed the finger at the historical responsibility of developed countries for Southern Africa’s poor carbon performance.
South Africa is the continent’s largest CO2 emitter and among the world’s largest contributors, with almost 1.5% of global emissions.
The meeting came on the heels of a G20 summit that delivered, at best, mixed results on climate, with the leaders of the world’s richest countries failing to agree on key targets, such as a firm deadline for the end of coal power.
Landmark deal on forests
The first major commitment to emerge from the conference was a big one: more than 100 leaders, representing more than 85% of the world’s forests, agreed to end deforestation by 2030.
The deal will be officially announced Tuesday, but a UK government statement confirmed the deal late Monday.
Among the nations taking part in the pledge are Canada, Russia, Colombia, Indonesia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which holds some of the world’s most important carbon sinks.
Crucially, Brazil also signed up. A deforestation crisis has ravaged the Amazon in recent years, putting one of the world’s most crucial natural defenses against climate change at risk, and the country’s President Jair Bolsonaro has been urged both at home and abroad to toughen his response.
Issues that stand in the way of progress
Trust: Forget talk of temperature rises or dirty coal. The real challenge facing negotiators at this key conference is the issue of trust, or the lack of it.
Credibility: Key to any success in Glasgow has to be the credibility of the host nation. France is generally seen as setting the bar for what a successful presidency looks like, when it hosted the Paris COP in 2015.The government’s strong commitment to the Paris goal of achieving net zero by 2050 – that is, to not add any more carbon emissions to the atmosphere than it can remove – creates credibility, he says.
Volume of work : One of the biggest challenges for this COP is the sheer volume of work. The postponement of last year’s meeting due to Covid is one cause, but it’s also because efforts to carry out the negotiations virtually haven’t worked. Delegates were happy to talk, but refused to take decisions until they met face to face.
The process itself: There is a growing sense among many participants that this UN negotiating process is no longer fit for purpose. The need for consensus from 197 parties, and the legalistic and technical nature of the talks, means there is, in reality, very little room for actual negotiations.
The spin: For months, politicians, negotiators and journalists have been arguing over what success at this conference looks like. This isn’t Paris in 2015 or Copenhagen in 2009, where deal/no deal made it very easy to tell if it was thumbs up or down. The UK’s stated aim to “keep 1.5C alive” – referring to the limit to the annual rise in average temperatures, compared to pre-industrial times. It is a handy sound bite that belies the massive shift in ambition required to achieve it.