The U.N. climate summit in Glasgow has formally opened, kicking off two weeks of intense diplomatic negotiations by almost 200 countries on how to tackle the common challenge of global warming.
Following Sunday’s opening gavel, officials began addressing a raft of procedural matters before leaders from around the world gather in Scotland’s biggest city Monday to lay out their countries’ efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and deal with the effects of climate change.
Many of the issues being discussed during the October 31to November 12 talks have been on the agenda for decades, including how rich countries can help poor nations tackle emissions and adapt to a hotter world. The slow pace of action has angered many environmental campaigners, who are expected to stage loud and creative protests during the summit.
The meeting will see negotiators from almost 200 countries try to tackle issues left hanging since the 2015 Paris climate accord was forged. Scientists say the chances of meeting that goal, agreed in the French capital six years ago, are slowly slipping away.
India, the world's third biggest emitter, has yet to follow China, the U.S. and the European Union in setting a target for reaching ‘net zero’ emissions. Negotiators are hoping India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi will announce such a goal in Glasgow.
The outgoing president of the meeting, Chile’s Carolina Schmidt, started the talks by asking officials to observe a minute’s silence for those who have died due to the coronavirus pandemic since the last U.N. climate conference was held in late 2019, shortly before the outbreak began.
On Monday, Charles is due to welcome leaders to COP26 in Glasgow. His 95-year-old mother Queen Elizabeth II was due to attend but has been advised to rest by her doctors.
The opening day of the talks is expected to focus on procedural issues. One big worry is that not all the delegates will be able to meet in person, as the venue and room capacities have been limited due to COVID concerns.