Too few leaders will arrive at Cop26 bearing any mandate for serious climate action, because hardly any have tried to get one
To be facetious about it, they only have 12 days to save the Earth. As politicians and officials from 197 countries begin just under a fortnight’s work at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow, you can sense a strange mixture of feelings: expectation, cynicism, fatalism, anger and fragile hope.
It will be easy to lose track of what is at stake and who is who – although anyone feeling confused should recall the report issued in August by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and its bracing conclusion: that huge environmental changes triggered by global heating are now everywhere, and avoiding a future that will be completely catastrophic demands “immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions” in carbon emissions. The point is simple enough. But one familiar factor may well weaken the resolve of the key people at Cop26: the fact that too few politicians will arrive in Scotland bearing any mandate for serious climate action, because almost none of them have tried to get one.
John Harris is a Guardian columnist