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He warned that “climate change did not take time off” during the pandemic, calling rising temperatures a “wake up call for all of us” that is “unequivocally” caused by human action.
Leaders from across the world have arrived in Glasgow for the start of global climate change conference COP26 today.
Asked by the BBC’s Andrew Marr if he can convince world leaders to agree to action that will limit average temperature rises to 1.5C, Mr Sharma admitted that it will not be easy.
"We are heading towards two degrees but need to ensure we are heading lower than that," he said.
The United Nations – which hosts the conference – predicts that the world is heading towards average temperature rises of 2.7C. But Mr Sharma says this fails to take into account all of the net zero targets that countries have made.
Asked whether Cop26 would end with a deal, he told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme: “That is what I’m driving towards and I think what I’ve always said is what we need to come out of Glasgow is saying with credibility that we have kept 1.5C alive.”
Seal level rise ‘doubled since 90s' terrifying research suggests
16:00 , Barney Davis
The rate of sea level rise has doubled since the 1990s with extreme weather becoming more common because of climate change, according to a report by the UN’s weather agency.
The past seven years have been the hottest on record and rising greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have “propelled the planet into uncharted territory, with far-reaching repercussions for current and future generations”, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).
Its annual State of the Global Climate report said the cyclical cooling weather pattern known as La Niña meant this year was likely only to be the fifth to the seventh warmest on record, with the average temperature from January to September 1.09C above the 1850-1900 average.
Climate change scientists stuck on train for hours on way to Cop26
15:31 , Barney Davis
Climate change scientist Simon Lewis said he has been stuck on a train for more than three hours as a result of the weather disruption on his way to Cop26.
The 49-year-old professor, from University College London, was on the 11am service from London to Edinburgh but has been stuck since 11:45am as a result of trees felled by the wind.
“We are moving a tiny bit every now and again, but have not made it to Peterborough yet, the first stop,” he told the PA News Agency.
“This is inconvenient and a reminder that climate change drives extreme weather events and every country needs to adapt.
“But a stopped train is nothing compared to the two million people displaced by flooding in Shanxi province in China, last month, and those facing famine today in Madagascar.”
Sturgeon praises UN climate chief for emphasising ‘stark reality’ facing Cop26
14:42 , Barney Davis
Nicola Sturgeon has praised UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa for setting out the “stark reality” of climate change for world leaders as the Cop26 global climate conference began.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) executive secretary told the formal opening of the UN climate summit in Glasgow on Sunday: “We stand at a pivotal point in history.
“We either choose to achieve rapid and large-scale reductions of emissions to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C – or we accept that humanity faces a bleak future on this planet.”
Couldn’t agree more. @PEspinosaC setting out the stark reality for world leaders gathering in Glasgow for #COP26 - act now with the urgency and ambition required to limit global warming to 1.5C, or accept a bleak future for life on our planet. https://t.co/ykeDkOxiNd
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) October 31, 2021
Cop26 attendees stranded at Euston as fallen tree halts rail services
14:29 , Sami Quadri
Hundreds of passengers hoping to travel to Glasgow for the Cop26 climate summit by train have been left waiting inside London’s Euston station after a fallen tree halted services.
Just before 2pm no Sunday, an announcement in the station revealed all train services had been suspended and the concourse was “exit only” due to overcrowding.
Pictures on social media showed the concourse packed with people, many of whom were hoping to travel north for the climate conference which began on Sunday.
The disruption came as a result of damage to overhead electrical wires between Rugby and Milton Keynes on the West Coast Main Line.
Network Rail said its teams are on site near Long Buckby in Northamptonshire, where the damage occurred.
The company said it is working to remove the fallen tree before assessing the damage and beginning repairs.
Travellers are advised not to go to Euston and instead check for regular updates.
14:20 , Sami Quadri
At the formal opening of the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), told delegates: “Dear friends, we stand at a pivotal point in history.
“Humanity faces stark but clear choices. We either choose to achieve rapid and large-scale reductions of limiting emissions to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C or we accept that humanity faces a bleak future on this planet.”
She said people can either choose to boost adaptation efforts to deal with weather disasters and build future resilience, or “accept that more people will die, more families will suffer and more economic harm will follow”.
Activists take to the streets in Ediburgh
13:37 , Tammy Hughes
UN General Assembly president warns we are “not doing enough"
12:15 , Sami Quadri
Abdulla Shahid, who is the President of the United Nations General Assembly, gives a stirring speech.
He said: “Allow me to be candid, for you are my family. We are facing an existential crisis.
“We have the capacities and resources to address this crisis. But we are simply not doing enough.”
Sharma vows to “hit the ground running” on climate action
11:22 , Sami Quadri
“Let’s make sure that what Paris promised, Glasgow delivers”, says Sharma.
He is of course referring to the Paris Agreement of 2015 in which nearly 200 countries reached an unprecedented agreement on cutting global greenhouse gas emissions.
Signees agreed to “pursue efforts” to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C and to keep them “well below” 2C.
Sharma warns that “climate change did not take time off” during the pandemic, calling rising temperatures a “wake up call for all of us” that is “unequivocally” caused by human action.
He added: “The rapidly-changing climate is sounding an alarm to the world to step up on adaptation to address loss and damage, and to act now to keep 1.5 alive.
“We know that this Cop, Cop26, is our last, best hope to keep 1.5 in reach.”
“I believe that we can resolve the outstanding issues. We can move the negotiations forward and we can launch a decade of ever-increasing ambition and action.
“Together we can seize the enormous opportunities for green growth for good, green jobs for cheaper, cleaner power.
“We need to hit the ground running to develop the solutions that we need. And that work starts today – and we succeed or fail as one.”
Alok Sharma plays down Russian and Chinese absence
11:15 , Sami Quadri
China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin have chosen not to attend COP26 in person.
The snub has been met with huge international criticism given their nations’ contributions to global emissions, with China producing an estimated 28% and Russia 5% of global C02 output.
But COP26 president Alok Sharma has played down the absence.
“If you look at what both President Xi and President Putin have announced, they have both announced net zero targets for the middle of the century,” he told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme.
“Of course, the world leaders’ summit is really important – we’ve got over 120 world leaders coming from all over the globe – but of course what we are also going to have is two weeks of detailed negotiations and those teams are here, I’ve met with some of the representatives from Russia, from China, over the last few days.
“That is what is going to be really important, to get over the line these key negotiating issues.
“It is a chance, quite frankly, for all these countries to show leadership – this is the point where they have to stand up and be counted.”
Greta Thunberg says UK is not doing enough to combat climate change
11:11 , Sami Quadri
Climate activist Greta Thunberg has criticised the UK for failing to take “real action” against climate change.
Asked about Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s recent announcement that there would be a 50% cut in air passenger duty (APD) for domestic flights, the 18-year-old suggested it’s not enough.
She told Marr: “Of course we can’t talk about this in, like, one single policy and so on. But when you see a pattern of these policies, that all the time are avoiding taking real action, then I think you can draw conclusions from that pattern, that climate action is not really our main priority right now.”