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From Paris to Glasgow

With global tensions high and the world reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, the conditions are not ideal for negotiating ambitious new climate commitments. Nonetheless, the rocky road to the historic 2015 Paris climate conference shows that another breakthrough for multilateralism is still possible.

PARIS – The COP26 climate conference will be a clarifying moment, poised between global cooperation and competition. As one of the key French officials tasked with delivering a deal at COP21 in Paris in 2015, I can attest to the weight of expectations placed upon this year’s hosts, Italy and the United Kingdom.

The summit in Glasgow this November is by far the most fraught meeting of governments since Paris. Paradoxically, greater global integration continues alongside emerging fault lines, including the injustices of the COVID-19 pandemic and a growing desire for inward, nationalistic policies.

While global trade is on track to increase by 8% this year, after falling by 5.3% in 2020, the rollout of medical supplies along global supply chains has exposed deep sources of antagonism and rivalry. The issue of vaccine solidarity – compounded by wealthy countries earmarking trillions for their own economic recoveries – has seriously strained multilateral ties. COP26 is approaching under a cloud of tension.

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