President of Finland at COP26: "Climate change is advancing and cannot continue"

President Sauli Niinistö and the Finnish delegation arrived at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, UK, on ​​Monday, and the president is due to issue a national statement on Tuesday.

The conference will bring together leaders and decision-makers from around the world to accelerate the achievement of the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

Late Monday afternoon, after listening to the day’s leaders and experts about possible climate disasters on the horizon, Niinistö told Finnish journalists that the overall spirit of COP26 was much more serious than at previous climate meetings, and said the reason for the change in attitude was clear to him.

"That is the reality. We see climate change progressing and we know it cannot continue," he said.

The President noted that while the spirit of the participants is more ambitious, there are also difficulties in combating climate change, as € 100 billion in funding for the effort is still in the air.

From Finland’s point of view, Niinistö emphasized the Nordic forest policy and expertise, saying that the expansion of the country’s forest areas and the resulting economic benefits are an example of the possibility of profitability at the same time combating climate change.

"The equation is not impossible," he said.

Many have sharply criticized the absence of the presidents of Russia and China Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping at the summit, but Niinistö noted that both countries still had representatives at the event.

"The aim is to increase country-specific commitments and promises," he said.

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The Finnish delegation includes, among others, the Minister of the Environment and Climate Krista Mikkonen (Green), who said Monday morning that conference attendees must send a clear signal that countries are ready for new and ambitious emissions reductions on a tight schedule.

He said he believed the conference would help get countries to step up their climate efforts, but it remains to be seen if that will be enough to prevent the situation from getting worse.

1.5 degrees

Experts are now saying that countries can no longer postpone action to combat climate change. According to a report by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), if countries do not take further action, it is possible that average global temperatures will rise by 2.7 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, with devastating consequences.

On the other hand, to keep temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius, the world’s countries would halve current greenhouse gas emissions over the next eight years.

At the opening ceremony in Glasgow, the UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa said the countries of the world need to change their ways or accept it "we contribute to our own extinction."

Although the two-week meeting is not scheduled to negotiate emission reductions, many countries have made new commitments, according to Minister Mikkonen.

"Many large countries have announced their carbon neutrality targets, but then we are talking about 2050 or 2060. We need significant emission reductions before 2030," Mikkonen said.

G20 promise

At the G20 summit in Rome, Italy on Sunday, the leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies are calling for meaningful and effective action to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

However, the document resulting from the meeting still lacks concrete measures and did not contain provisions to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. The goal, researchers say, is crucial in preventing climate events like extreme droughts, storms and floods around the world.

Chairman of the Finnish Climate Change Panel, an independent think tank, Markku Ollikainen, said he remained pleased with the commitments made by the G20.

"If the G20 commits to the 1.5 degree target, it will be a major turning point in international climate policy. I consider this decision to be a very encouraging signal to Glasgow," Ollikainen told Yle on Sunday just before leaving for the COP26 meeting.

Glasgow is hosting the COP26 conference, which aims to accelerate countries ’CO2 emissions targets.Andy Buchanan / AFP

Source: The Nordic Page


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