Aug 12, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The High Ambition Coalition's priorities for the Glasgow climate summit

Picture taken in 2015 showing then-French Foreign Affairs minister Laurent Fabius and then-Marshall Islands' Foreign Affairs minister Tony de Brum greeting by shaking hands and smiling
Then-French Foreign Affairs minister Laurent Fabius, right, greets then-Marshall Islands' Foreign Affairs minister Tony de Brum in his office during the Paris climate summit in December 2015. Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP via Getty Images

A coalition to watch at the upcoming Glasgow climate summit is made up of some of the most at-risk countries to climate change that don't traditionally wield much power on the global stage, along with some other nations, like Norway, which have ambitious climate targets.

Why it matters: The power of these countries' moral authority on climate change — their very existence is threatened by sea level rise — helped them play a vital role in securing the Paris Agreement in 2015.

  • During that summit, the Marshall Islands' climate negotiator, the late Tony de Brum, forged the "High Ambition Coalition" to push for nations to adopt the strict warming target of 1.5 °C (2.7°F).
  • That target could be crossed as soon as the early 2030s, according to a major climate science report published Monday.

Driving the news: The High Ambition Coalition has outlived de Brum, and members are considering the United Nations IPCC report's implications as they prep for the Glasgow talks.

  • One of the members is the small Caribbean island nation of Grenada.
  • Its top climate official, Simon Stiell, tells Axios he's looking to summon some of de Brum's will to force action in Glasgow.
  • Stiell sees the IPCC report as paving the way for progress.

The intrigue: The new assessment should quiet countries that have stood in the way of a strong climate agreement, Stiell said, including: "Those who either questioned the science, or who have tried to exploit any ambiguities" in the science.

  • "A key thing for us moving into Glasgow is ensuring that parties have nowhere to hide," he said.

What's next: According to Stiell, during the upcoming talks, there needs to be a broadening of the definition of ambition to include not just limiting the severity of warming, but also adaptation and finance.

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