The UN Climate Talks Are About to Face Maddening Uncertainties

FOR YEARS, THE world has known what it has to do about climate change: hold the line at 1.5 degrees Celsius to stave off the worst effects of warming. To do so we need to make serious cuts to carbon emissions, fast—at least 42 percent from 2019 levels by 2030. That’s been the aim since 2015, when world leaders came together to sign the Paris Agreement. So around this time last year, when global climate negotiators arrived at the United Nations’ annual Conference of Parties meeting, known as COP26, they came with a clear mandate. Yet by the end of the marathon negotiations, they left Glasgow with the carbon arithmetic far from solved.

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