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glasgow bridge Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images

The Green Lights of Glasgow

With global warming approaching the point of no return, the world cannot afford the upcoming COP26 climate summit to fail. But defying the many gloomy forecasts will require governments to show much greater solidarity than they have in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this Big Picture, Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, identifies four metrics for measuring success at the Glasgow summit. And Laurence Tubiana of the European Climate Foundation, recalling the bumpy road to the historic 2015 Paris climate agreement, thinks that another breakthrough for multilateralism is still possible.

But others are less optimistic. Connie Hedegaard, a former European Commissioner for Climate Action, warns that the conference will fail unless the European Union comes prepared to lead. And John Kampfner of Chatham House thinks heightened US-China tensions mean that national interests, not international summits like COP26, will be key to tackling climate change.

That’s a problem for most poorer countries, which can’t address the consequences of climate change on their own. V. Shankar of the private-equity firm Gateway Partners therefore urges wealthier countries to give developing and emerging economies the time, financial support, and capacity-building assistance they need to help them reach net-zero emissions.

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