Alok Sharma – 2021 Speech at Leaders Summit on Climate

The speech made by Alok Sharma, the COP26 President, on 22 April 2021.

Your Excellencies, Ladies, Gentlemen, Friends.

Before a baby born today has even finished primary education, the future will be set.

We all know that the next decade will be make, or break, for planet earth.

And the warning lights are flashing bright red.

And that is why the decisions world leaders are taking today, and, indeed, on the road to COP26, are going to be absolutely critical.

So I want to thank President Biden for bringing us together, and for the US’s own ambitious new nationally determined contribution.

And, indeed, I am grateful to everyone who has made announcements.

And moved us closer to our clean, green future. To creating jobs and prosperity without harming the planet.

And with today’s announcements from the US, Canada and Japan, every G7 country now has an NDC that puts them on a path to net zero by 2050.

This is a significant step towards keeping 1.5 degrees within reach, from a group of countries who have a responsibility to lead.

As you’ve heard, Net zero commitments now cover 70 percent of the global economy.

And this is real progress. But we have much further to go.

Because, as I said at the Climate Ambition Summit in December, the key question is:

Have we collectively as a world community done enough to put the world on track to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.

To protecting ourselves from climate change.

And making the Paris Agreement a reality.

Friends, the answer to that question is still: no, not yet.

Between now and COP26 there will be more opportunities for countries to raise their ambition. And so we must.

Because if we are serious about 1.5 degrees, we must be serious about NDCs. And we must be serious about acting now to reduce emissions. And we must be serious about supporting developing countries.

The next IPCC report will show us again the urgency of our situation.

And the world is looking expectantly to its leaders to respond.

And we must prove that we are up to the challenge. And we must make COP26 the turning point where we get on track to make the goals of the Paris Agreement a reality.

And that means, firstly, putting the world on a path to net zero through long term targets and aligned NDCs.

And taking immediate action to meet those targets – by, for example, phasing out coal.

So, I welcome South Korea’s commitment to end overseas coal financing.

Second, we must boost adaptation.

Third, we need finance, as we have heard about in this section. And we must all see ourselves as champions of developing countries. Whose calls for action we have heard loud and clear today.

Climate change, we all know, does not respect borders. And tackling it is absolutely a global effort.

So, developed countries must mobilise the promised $100billion a year.

And I very much welcome the US return to the fold following today’s initial climate finance commitment. And we will continue to work with all donors to increase ambition towards our collective goal.

Finally, we must work together to deliver a low carbon world, and make the negotiations in Glasgow a success.

Friends, today, we have made progress on our goals.

But we need a further step change.

We need world leaders to mount a global response that matches the scale and the urgency of the crisis we face.

This is the defining issue of our political age.

The one against which future generations will judge us above all others.

But I do believe we can and we must rise to the occasion.