COP26 President Alok Sharma delivers opening remarks at the British Council’s ‘Climate Connection: Conversation for Change’ event today (Thursday 3rd June):
Good morning, it’s a pleasure to join you today.
All over the planet, young people are leading the charge against climate change, whether that’s through advocating climate action, or developing climate solutions.
I’ve seen this myself when meeting young climate activists around the world.
From Ethiopia to Costa Rica, from Egypt to Nepal.
In every place I visit, I hear the same passion and commitment to building a better future for us all.
And that is precisely what we want to do at COP26, the next United Nations Climate Change conference that we will be holding in Glasgow this November.
This is an absolutely pivotal conference for our planet.
Six years ago, in Paris, the world came together and forged the Paris Agreement, to address the threat of climate change, which committed us to limit the rise in global temperatures to well below two degrees, aiming for 1.5 degrees.
And the science tells us that the 1.5 degree limit is critical.
Indeed, every fraction of a degree makes a difference.
A temperature rise of two degrees, rather than 1.5, would mean hundreds of millions more people affected.
Twice as many plant, and three times as many insect species losing vast swathes of their habitat.
But since the Paris Agreement was signed, we have not done enough.
And now, to keep that 1.5 degree target in reach we must halve global emissions by 2030.
That means taking action now.
We must make decisions today that will drive down emissions throughout the next decade.
And that is why COP26 is so critical.
It must be the moment we come together, as one planet, and build a green, inclusive future.
That means, putting the world on a path to driving down emissions, until they reach net zero by the middle of this century.
It means protecting people and nature from the effects of climate change.
It means getting the finance in place to pay for those changes.
And it means working together.
Because addressing the climate crisis requires us all.
We need businesses to reduce emissions.
Young people and civil society to advocate for change.
And build support for ambitious government policy.
Don’t underestimate the power of this. It is immense.
So COP26 is going to bring all of society on board.
To bring young people into COP26, we have established the Civil Society and Youth Advisory Council to help shape COP26.
We are working with Italy, who will host 400 young delegates from around the world for the Youth4climate: Driving Ambition event in Milan this September, where they will develop a declaration, which will be shared with Ministers attending the Pre-COP, which is the final official meeting of ministers ahead of COP26.
We are also supporting the sixteenth Conference of Youth, organised by the official youth group of the United Nations climate change wing.
The conference will bring young people together from across the world and submit a declaration to the United Nations.
I would like to encourage all of you to apply to attend the event. And to submit statements to inform the declaration.
A link has just gone out on the COP26 Twitter feed.
And I would like to thank the British Council for this Climate Connection programme, which brings people together from around the world to meet the challenges of climate change.
And I urge all of you to keep pushing for action.
Because with all of us on board, we can make this the year we get on track, to tackle the climate crisis, to keep 1.5 degrees alive, and to protect our planet for future generations.
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