Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was due to arrive in the Scottish city of Glasgow on Sunday as world leaders gather for the United Nations’ COP26 summit, heralded as a decisive opportunity to save the planet from the most dire effects of climate change.
COP26 was delayed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is scheduled to include two days of speeches, with leaders pledging to set new emission reduction targets.
Bennett will be accompanied by the Minister of Environmental Protection, Tamar Zandberg, the Minister of Energy, Karin Elharar, and a delegation of additional officials and businessmen.
The prime minister said before his trip that Israel was committed to achieving zero emissions by 2050.
“For the world to reach zero emissions by 2050, changing our behavior will do less than half the work. The other half will come from technology that has not yet been developed. That is where Israel has to lead, ”Bennett told the British Sunday Times in an interview published on Sunday.
COP26 aims to keep alive the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels, the limit that scientists say would prevent its most destructive consequences.
Reaching that goal, agreed to in Paris with much fanfare in 2015, will require increased political momentum and diplomatic effort to make up for the insufficient action and empty promises that have characterized much of global climate politics.
The conference needs to secure more ambitious commitments to further reduce emissions, secure billions in climate finance, and finalize the rules to implement the Paris Agreement with the unanimous consent of the nearly 200 countries that signed it.
“Let’s be clear: there is a serious risk that Glasgow will not comply,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told the leaders of the rich nations of the Group of 20 (G20) last week.
“Even if the recent promises were clear and credible, and there are serious doubts about some of them, we are still heading towards climate catastrophe,” Guterres added.
Signs leading up to COP26 have been mixed. A new promise from last week from China, the world’s biggest polluter, was labeled a missed opportunity that will overshadow the two-week summit. The announcements from Russia and Saudi Arabia were also mediocre.
The return of the United States, the world’s largest economy, to the UN climate talks will be a boon for the conference, following a four-year absence under former President Donald Trump.
But like many world leaders, President Joe Biden will arrive at COP26 without firm legislation that delivers on his own climate promise as Congress debates how to finance it and new uncertainty about whether US agencies can even regulate gas emissions. greenhouse effect.
Leaders of the G20 meeting in Rome this weekend will say their goal is to limit global warming to 1.5 ° C, but will largely avoid firm commitments, according to a draft statement seen by Reuters.
The joint statement reflects difficult negotiations, but details few concrete actions to limit carbon emissions.
The G20, which includes Israel, Brazil, China, India, Germany and the United States, accounts for about 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but hope that the Rome meeting can pave the way to success in Scotland it has diminished considerably.
In addition to the challenging geopolitical context, a global energy crisis has led China to turn to highly polluting coal to avoid energy shortages, and has left Europe in search of more gas, another fossil fuel.
Ultimately, the negotiations will boil down to issues of fairness and trust between rich countries whose greenhouse gas emissions caused climate change and poor countries who are being asked to decarbonize their economies without sufficient financial support.
Assessing progress will be complex. Unlike past climate summits, the event will not deliver a new treaty or a big “victory,” but seeks to secure smaller but vital victories in emissions reduction commitments, climate finance and investment.
Ultimately, success will be judged on whether those deals add up to enough progress to keep the 1.5C target alive, still a long way off.
Since the Paris agreement in 2015, scientists have issued increasingly urgent warnings that the 1.5 ° C target is slipping out of reach. To meet this, global emissions must fall 45% by 2030 from 2010 levels, and reach net zero by 2050, requiring major changes in countries’ transportation, energy production, manufacturing and agriculture systems.
Current pledges from countries would see global emissions increase by 16% by 2030.
“The way I think about this is that there is a meteor coming to our planet and it has the real potential to wipe out humanity,” said Christiana Figueres, the former UN climate diplomat who led the talks that led to the Agreement on Paris.