Climate conference kicks off in Glasgow with floods and low expectations.

GLASGOW – The first day of climate talks got off to a rocky start.

Critics quickly downplayed the agreement reached hours ago by world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Rome on Sunday as symbolic. The deal fell short, they said, making it difficult for the next two weeks of climate talks, led by the United Nations, to produce meaningful results aimed at curbing climate disasters.

And the organizers kept a close eye on about the floods this weekend which forced people from their homes and disrupted travel in Britain for some of the 20,000 people who came here to Glasgow, driving home the urgency of these conversations.

“The climate is sending them a message,” Saleemul Huq, director of the International Center for Climate Change and Development in Bangladesh, said in a tweet. climate change.”

The meeting in Scotland, to try to avoid even worse consequences of climate change, was always going to be a challenge. For one thing, it’s happening during a pandemic.

A daily negative rapid coronavirus test, registered with the government, is required to enter, and delegates could be seen shoving cotton swabs up their noses outside the UN tent room. Masks are a must in hallways, and British scientists have said they fear the summit will turn into a super-spread event.

On top of that, countries are known to have failed to achieve their targets in past conferences. The summit’s nickname, after all, is COP26, which refers to the 26th “conference of the parties” to the United Nations climate change convention.

That means the UN has been trying to help solve climate change for more than a quarter of a century.

The countries closest to success was in 2015, when nearly 200 nations agreed in Paris to cut greenhouse gas emissions and set a collective goal of ensuring that global temperature rise remains “well below” 2 degrees Celsius. above pre-industrial levels.

Despite the promises, scientists say the planet is on a trajectory toward a dangerous 2.7 degree temperature rise by 2100.

Today, countries are being asked to help limit temperature increases to 1.5 degrees. It may seem like a small difference, but that extra heat could mean the disappearance of coral reefs, much lower global crop yields, and water scarcity for millions more.

And rich countries will be asked to fulfill a promise they made more than a decade ago but never kept: to deliver $ 100 billion annually by 2020 to poor countries to help them move away from fossil fuels and build resilience to change. climate.

So here’s what you can expect: Over the next two days, world leaders, including President Biden, will deliver speeches promising action.

But the real work begins after they leave, when vice ministers and diplomats try to clarify the details of a deal that scientists hope will keep the world on a 1.5-degree rise in temperatures.

“This is the last decade the world has to avoid the worst impacts of global warming,” Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, plans to say Monday morning, according to excerpts of his prepared remarks. “I beg that we do not waste this crucial opportunity.”

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