Alastair Stewart on who is responsible for fighting climate crisis

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World leaders have travelled to Glasgow this week as COP26 begins, a summit seen as crucial to tackling climate change and preventing disaster which would befall the planet if global warming continued. Today COP26 president Alok Sharma warned the summit was the world’s “last, best hope” to limit global warming to 1.5C by 2100.

Speaking at the opening of COP26 today Mr Sharma said: “If we act now, and we act together, we can protect our precious planet.

“So, let’s come together in these two weeks and ensure that where Paris promised, Glasgow delivers.”

Integral to limiting warming to the 1.5C figure by 2100 is reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

Extra CO2 in the atmosphere increases the greenhouse effect – warming the planet by trapping thermal energy and causing warmer climates than usual.

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Some countries have pledged to hit net zero carbon emissions in the future – while others are facing pressure to reach the target sooner.

Figures from our World in Data show the country with the highest CO2 emissions is China, with 10,175 million tonnes in 2019.

And overall China emitted 27 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases in 2019.

Second on the list was the United States, emitting 5,258 million tonnes in 2019, 11 percent of the globe’s greenhouse gases.

CO2 emissions by country – in tonnes, 2019

China – 10,175m – 7.1 per capita

USA – 5,285m – 16.1 per capita

India – 2,616m – 1.9 per capita

Russia – 1,678m – 11.5 per capita

Japan – 1,107m – 8.7 per capita

Iran – 780m – 9.5 per capita

Germany – 702m – 8.4 per capita

Indonesia – 618m – 2.3 per capita

South Korea – 611m – 11.9 per capita

Saudi Arabia – 582m – 17.0 per capita

Source – Our World in Data

China has also been ranked as “highly insufficient” when it comes to climate action, with Russia one level worse at “critically insufficient”.

In 2015, 192 nations signed the Paris Accord which set out a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change.

The UK has promised to hit net zero carbon emissions by 2050, as has the EU, USA and Gambia.

China has pledged to reach net-zero by 2060, as have Russia and India.

Global Climate Promises

UK

Rating: Almost Sufficient

Net Zero target: 2050

Attending COP26: Yes

EU

Rating: Insufficient

Net Zero target: 2050

Attending COP26: Yes

USA

Rating: Insufficient

Net Zero target: 2050

Attending COP26: Yes

China

Rating: Highly insufficient

Net Zero target: 2060

Attending COP26: Via video link

India

Rating: Highly insufficient

Net Zero target: 2060

Attending COP26: YEs

Russian Federation

Rating: Critically insufficient

Net Zero target: 2060

Attending COP26: No

The Gambia

Rating: Sufficient

Net Zero target: 2050

Attending COP26: Unknown

Nigeria

Rating: Almost Sufficient

Net Zero target: 2050 – 2100

Attending COP26: Yes

Nepal

Rating: Almost Sufficient

Net Zero target: 2050

Attending COP26: Unknown

Morocco

Rating: Almost Sufficient

Net Zero target: –

Attending COP26: Unknown

Countries were rated by Climate Action Tracker, which checks national targets against the goal to limit global warming below 1.5C.

The danger of climate change is already apparent, with a report by the World Meteorological Organisation, showing extreme weather events – such as fierce heat waves and deadly floods – are the new normal.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the BBC that climate change was “the biggest threat to humanity”, saying it posed a “risk to civilisation basically going backwards”.

With COP26 events to last all week, world leaders will work on future pledges and ways to reduce global pollution.

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