Climate change: ‘Cloud has darkened’ since COP26, but ‘brutal’ Russian invasion could spur climate action, says Alok Sharma

Current crises such as the rising cost of living, fears over energy security and the Covid-19 pandemic should “increase, not diminish” determination to deliver on what the world agreed in Glasgow, according to COP26 president Alok Sharma.

The UK minister and “shepherd-in-chief” of the international climate talks said the “cloud has darkened” since COP26 and countries were being forced to react to immediate concerns, but action to control global warming remains a key issue.

Vladimir Putin's “illegal and brutal” invasion of Ukraine has “thrown our situation into stark relief”, Mr Sharma says, highlighting the need for nations to move to “home-grown” green energy and end reliance on imports.

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The Russian leader's actions, which have driven up global oil and gas prices and sparked fears over supplies, mean the world can “see clearly the dangers of energy systems powered by foreign fossil fuels”, Mr Sharma said.

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The COP26 president was speaking at the Scottish Events Campus in the city’s Finnieston area, where the historic Glasgow Pact was signed by nearly 200 countries during the United Nations climate conference six months ago.

Climate change is a chronic danger, and it is a danger that will be with us for generations to come,” he said.

“We must continue to confront it as we deal with the pressures of the present.

Speaking in Glasgow six months after COP26, president Alok Sharma has warned that failure to honour promises made at the summit would be an "act of monstrous self-harm". Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

“That is why it’s imperative that we deliver the Glasgow Climate Pact.”

Mr Shama said failure to take strong and swift action to counteract climate change would be a “monstrous act of self-harm”.

“The world has changed, but resolve has not,” he said.

He said some progress was being made, including some countries promising to strengthen emissions cuts and increase finance for poorer countries most impacted by the effects of climate change.

But he stressed that action must be ramped up in the run-up to COP27, which is being held in Egypt at the tail end of the year.

“Unfortunately the chronic threat of climate change has not gone away,” he said, adding the world must “deliver what the Glasgow Pact promised”.

Mr Sharma warned the cost of inaction was going to be “significantly bigger” than the cost of action.

He also sent a special thank you to Glaswegians for their welcome when COP26 – and hundreds of thousands of delegates and visitors from all over the world – came to Glasgow in November.

He said the two weeks in Scotland’s biggest city had taught him he could survive on three hours of sleep a night and left him with a taste for Tunnock’s Teacakes.

“I will always be grateful to the people of Glasgow for the warmth of their welcome, which was commented on by so many ministers from across the globe,” he said.

“This great city has earned its name as the dear green place in the hearts of delegates from around the world.”

In the aftermath of COP26, at least 6,000 items of furniture, miles of carpet and 600 laptops that were used during the conference have been donated to local charities and organisations, including those supporting refugees from Ukraine.

Mr Sharma said the move was a “fitting final act of a summit that met the highest standards of sustainability”.

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