‘The alternative isn’t worth thinking about’: Nations must ‘redouble efforts’ in final hours of Cop26, says Sadiq Khan

Exclusive: Countries must renew their climate promises more often to keep 1.5C goal within reach, says mayor of London

Daisy Dunne
Climate Correspondent
Friday 12 November 2021 07:41
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Cop26: What to expect from second week of climate summit

Countries must “redouble their efforts” in the final hours of the Cop26 climate summit to attempt to keep hopes alive of limiting global heating to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, Sadiq Khan has said.

Speaking to The Independent in Glasgow, the mayor of London said countries must commit to renewing their climate promises more often to get the momentum needed to meet the 1.5C aspiration of the Paris Agreement.

He added that he had been frustrated to see nations prioritising “targets over action” and said that the era of climate deniers had been replaced by one of “climate delayers”.

“Cop has to be a success because the alternative isn’t worth thinking about,” he told The Independent.

“Humanity is at a crisis point. We saw in London the consequences of flash flooding in summer, the Tube being closed down and homes being flooded. We saw the floods in New York, Germany and wildfires in Greece.

“I’m hoping in the last few hours everyone redoubles their efforts.”

His comments come as UK minister and Cop president Alok Sharma warned that negotiators still face a “monumental challenge” in reaching consensus on key issues before the summit’s scheduled finish time on Friday.

“Whilst we have made progress, we are not there yet on the most crucial issues,” he said. “Time is running out.”

How to include the need to drastically move away from fossil fuels in the final Glasgow text is reported to be a key sticking point for countries hammering out a deal.

On Thursday, a small group of countries led by Denmark and Costa Rica announced that they would forge a path to ending new oil and gas production, a step scientists say will be crucial to meeting global climate goals.

However, the UK government, which is hosting the Glasgow summit, said it would not join the international alliance aimed at moving away from fossil fuels.

Mr Khan said that the UK’s decision to snub the agreement showed a lack of leadership. “We should be leading by example,” he said.

The mayor today attended a meeting with UN chief Antonio Guterres and other city leaders to mark “cities day” at Cop26.

Last week, he was elected the new chair of C40 cities, a group of 97 city mayors from across the world aiming to take action on the climate crisis.

He said that he believed cities could take the lead on tackling the climate crisis where national governments had fallen behind.

“More than two-thirds of the C40 cities are either on course to meet the promises made at Paris or have exceeded that,” he said.

“That’s versus the only country I could find that’s meeting the Paris Agreement and that’s the Gambia.”

He added that he was still hopeful that nations could make positive progress to address the climate crisis at Cop26.

“The key thing that needs to come out of this Cop is optimism,” he said.

“If pessimism or defeat comes out of this, that doesn’t bode well for national governments or for the sectors, businesses or mayors. That’s why it’s so important for there to be momentum.”

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