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COP26: “It’s now or now”, says scientist Mercedes Bustamante

Professor at the University of Brasília and member of the IPCC talks about expectations for Brazil and the world at the most awaited UN conference of the year.
Professor at the University of Brasília and member of the IPCC talks about expectations for Brazil and the world at the most awaited UN conference of the year.

On the eve of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change ( COP26 ), which begins on Sunday (31/10) in Glasgow, Scotland, Brazil is under pressure to expand its commitments to reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere and fight the advance of Deforestation – mainly responsible for the country having increased its greenhouse gas emissions by 9.5% in 2020.

Brazil was also the only member of the G20 to retreat from the goal of reducing the emission of gases that contribute to global warming , which was considered a setback by the United Nations (UN). This retreat took place through what has been called by environmentalists ” climate pedaling.” For scientist Mercedes Bustamante , an international reference in climate issues and one of the authors of the Sixth Assessment Report of the IPCC (AR6), this is one of the controversies that could affect the situation in Brazil at COP26.

“The recent extreme events showed the urgent need to address the climate issue. The COVID19 pandemic issue itself showed the impact of a global shock, also indicating many of the weaknesses we have. This set of situations leads to COP26 having a different spirit: the need to act now or now, “says the researcher in an interview with Enter the Climate , the podcast of a Lonely Planet .

Without the presence of President Jair Bolsonaro , the head of the Brazilian delegation should be Environment Minister Joaquim Leite , also considered a weak point in the country’s position at the world conference. On the other hand, the United States, under Joe Biden, China and several European countries arrive with high-level delegations and promises of money and more ambitious goals in the debate about the future of the planet.

Mercedes Bustamante is a professor at the University of Brasília (UnB) and a member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences — Photo: Personal archive

So the world’s top leaders, or their representatives, will be in Glasgow to set the course for global climate policy. And, for Mercedes, the human issue also needs to be the predominant target in the discussions. Among the main points that the world needs to demand from this meeting are the central role of human rights in the response to the crisis, gender equality, public participation and climate justice for sustainable development.

“The atmosphere is a common global good. Mitigation will only be really achieved with the support of everyone. In the process of mitigation, impact reduction, climate change , we have to avoid other global shocks. extreme weather, even more in association with this health crisis, are the most impacted. We also have the issue of large migrations , due to the demand of populations to seek better living conditions. It is not a problem that will remain isolated in some part of the world.” says the researcher.

This story was originally published on Um So Planeta, with the support of Climate Tracker.

Guilherme Justino
Multimedia reporter working for Editora Globo in Brazil. Guilherme’s favorite areas to cover are Education, Health, Science and Sustainability. He’s an Earth Journalism Network (EJN) and International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) fellow and he’s won over a dozen national journalism awards, a number of them related to climate stories written over the years. Stories he publish are supported by his cats, Mia and Elias.