The Agra-born president designate of the summit delivered a major speech during a wind farm visit near the city of Glasgow and urged that it was time to move away from coal power towards more renewable sources of power.
Sharma outlined the UK’s presidency of the summit across four key areas of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, enabling communities and natural habitats to adapt to the impacts of climate change, mobilising climate finance, and working together to deliver action.
“Having been born in India, a proud British citizen, and having spent time as Secretary of State for International Development, I am committed that this COP will deliver for the communities most vulnerable to climate change,” said Sharma, who holds a Cabinet Office ministerial post.
“We are pushing for action in vital areas like power generation, clean transport and halting deforestation; because if we are serious about 1.5 degrees, Glasgow must be the COP that consigns coal power to history. The COP that signals the end of polluting vehicles. The COP that tackles methane emissions. And that calls time on deforestation, by making sustainable production pay,” he said.
COP26 will bring together climate negotiators from 196 countries, including India, as well as businesses, organisations, experts and world leaders at the SEC in Glasgow between November 1 and 12.
Six years on from COP21, when the Paris Agreement was reached and the world agreed to limit global warming to 1.5C, this year’s summit will be where all countries commit to the action needed to keep this target alive.
Sharma said: “This is our last hope of keeping 1.5 degrees alive. Our best chance of building a brighter future. A future of green jobs and cleaner air. I have faith that world leaders will rise to the occasion and not be found wanting in their tryst with destiny.
“In preparing for this speech, I asked my daughters what message I should give to world leaders about their priorities. Their response was simple: ‘please, tell them to pick the planet’.”
The UK claims to be leading the way in climate action and pointed to statistics which show that in 2012, 40 per cent of the country’s electricity came from coal but that figure is now less than 2 per cent. Recently, it became one of the first countries to pledge to reduce carbon emissions by 78 per cent by 2035 and completely phase out coal power by 2024 and end the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030.
The COP26 UN Climate Change Conference is the agreed five-yearly stocktake point where countries are expected to agree climate action targets.