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Encouraged by clarity of understanding of climate emergency: WCS

New York, Nov 16 (IANS) When the gavel came down on the 26th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Glasgow, governments of nearly 200 countries agreed to a generally common understanding of the global climate crisis, along with some -- though not all -- of the means to combat it.

The COP26 summit was designed to ensure participating countries continued to advance the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The pact from the summit keeps momentum building behind addressing the climate emergency. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is encouraged by the world's nations committing to end deforestation, reducing methane emissions, limiting coal use, increasing financial help for developing countries, and reaffirming resolve toward the 1.5 degree goal.

Dan Zarin, WCS Executive Director for Forests and Climate Change, said: "At WCS, we are encouraged by the clarity of understanding of the climate emergency reflected in the Glasgow Climate Pact and by the intent to rapidly ratchet ambition to meet that understanding.

"But the Glasgow Climate Pact does not mean that the world has solved the climate crisis.

"To stay under the 1.5 degree increase, the world needs to reduce CO2 emissions by 45 per cent by 2030, relative to 2010 emissions. But CO2 emissions remain on an upward trajectory, following a decline in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"At current emission rates, we have about a decade before we'll have lost any chance of staying under the 1.5 degree increase, even if we completely halted new emissions after that.

"Unfortunately, full implementation of country emission reduction pledges submitted to date (known as nationally-determined contributions or NDCs), would result in emissions considerably higher than that 2010 benchmark, rather than the 45 per cent reduction we need.

"So the pact calls on countries to strengthen their NDCs by the end of next year and proposes an annual synthesis of the NDC data along with an annual ministerial roundtable on pre-2030 ambition.

"There are many more details contained in the Glasgow Climate Pact and accompanying COP decisions. But what matters most is what countries, and corporations, do next -- to quickly and drastically reduce and then phase out greenhouse gas emissions from every sector of the economy and to protect forests that are sponging nearly a third of our CO2 emissions from the atmosphere each year."

The Pact emphasizes the importance of protecting, conserving, and restoring nature and ecosystems to achieve the Paris Agreement temperature goal, including through forests and other terrestrial and marine ecosystems acting as sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases and by protecting biodiversity, while ensuring social and environmental safeguards, said the WCS Executive Director.

"This emphasis on protecting nature also helps to combat the world's extinction and zoonotic health crises."