Katy Balls

Can Boris Johnson salvage COP26?

Can Boris Johnson salvage COP26?
(Photo: Getty)
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It’s day two of COP26 and so far the climate summit in Glasgow has made news for travel chaos, Greta Thunberg’s swearing and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s unfortunate ‘Nazi’ climate comparison. There was some disappointment among government officials on Monday when India only set a target of 2070 to reach net zero, but ministers are hopeful that today – which is the last full day many world leaders will spend at the two-week summit – will see better headlines.

The first of which is an agreement between more than 100 world leaders to end and reverse deforestation by 2030. Just under £14 billion of funds – a mix of public and private money – has been pledged for tackling deforestation, with countries including America, Russia, China and Brazil signing up to the pledge. Given that under Jair Bolsonaro the deforestation of the Amazon in Brazil has surged, the country’s participation is being heralded as significant.

It’s also the first agreement Boris Johnson can really shout about, with the UK Prime Minister hailing it as a ‘landmark’ commitment that will ‘end the role of humanity as nature’s conqueror, and instead become nature’s custodian.’ As the agreement isn’t enforceable in the sense of creating specific mechanisms to prevent deforestation, there is some scepticism as to whether it will really do what it says on the tin. But last time there was an attempt to get an agreement on this issue, both Brazil and Russia did not take part, suggesting there is more reason for optimism this time around.

As for the other aims of the summit, it’s still the case that the talks are not where Boris Johnson would like them to be. Targets for climate funding for developing countries have fallen short while net zero targets from large emitters vary substantially. The hope among those organising the summit is that they will still be able to hobble something together when it comes to the key aim of limiting temperature rises to 1.5C. It’s on this that the summit’s success will largely be judged.