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Climate Adaptation

Climate Talks Get a Shaky Start: A Roadmap From G-20 to COP26

Global climate negotiations are complex, political and emotional. Here’s your guide to the key data, debates and discussions

Banners advertising the upcoming COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, U.K.
Banners advertising the upcoming COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, U.K.Photographer: Ian Forsyth/Bloomberg
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COP climate talks were always going to be difficult: 200 countries in search of a plan to prevent catastrophic warming of the planet with time running out fast.

The backdrop of terrifying weather events had brought a renewed sense of urgency to the matter. Then, the energy crisis struck, leaving Asia and Europe scrambling for fossil fuels, forcing China to double down on coal, and giving climate laggards another excuse not to engage. In the U.S., President Joe Biden’s green ambitions have gotten bogged down in domestic politics, undermining his credibility as he tries to push others to curb their emissions.

The aim of COP — the acronym for the conference of parties that’s now in its 26th round — is to curb emissions, keep the goal of 1.5 degrees of global warming within reach, reduce coal use, sort out rules for global carbon trading and raise billions in climate finance.