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1.5°C goal on ‘life support’

(CU)_Since the beginning of last week, state leaders, policy makers, business magnates and climate experts have been holding host of discussions and forums in Glasgow with the aim of launching collective efforts to minimise the effects of climate change. One of the top priorities of the summit is to secure commitments to slash greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C, as set out in the Paris accord. However, now with just a day left in the UN climate talks, the possibility of reaching a deal in this regard is becoming increasing remote.

In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press on Thursday (11 November), United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres acknowledged that the COP26 negotiations will “very probably” not yield the expected pledges to slash carbon emissions, but added that hope should be maintained until the last moment. 

He noted that the goal of achieving the 1.5°C goal is still within reach but “on life support”, and therefore it imperative to accomplish more than a weak deal to which all participating nations agree. “The worst thing would be to reach an agreement at all costs by a minimum common denominator that would not respond to the huge challenges we face,” the UN chief said.

He went on praise the United States and China on their pledge to increase their cooperation on climate action, despite their disagreements on a host of other matters. Xie Zhenhua and John Kerry, the climate envoys of the world’s top two carbon polluters, on Wednesday (10 November) that Beijing and Washington will work together to minimise their emissions to the level required to meet the goals set out in the 2015 Paris agreement.

Meanwhile, the UN secretary General noted that if the negotiators in Glasgow fail to reach ambitious carbon-cutting goals, the state leaders should submit new pledges next year and the following year, during high-level meetings.

Nevertheless, he did not say at which point he thinks the 1.5°C will have to be abandoned. “When you are on the verge of the abyss, it’s not important to discuss what will be your fourth or fifth step,” Guterres said. “What’s important to discuss is what will be your first step. Because if your first step is the wrong step, you will not have the chance to do a search to make a second or third one.”

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