G7 leaders face make-or-break moment in climate crisis

(The Guardian, 11 Jun 2021) Analysis: message in Cornwall is clear – leaders must act now or go down in history as the ones who threw away last-ditch chance.

Global leaders arriving in Cornwall for the G7 summit have already found themselves in a changed world: masks and social distancing have replaced the usual hugs, handshakes and cheek-pecking, the entourages have slimmed down, and the usual media circus has been muted, with protesters having to content themselves with writing sand messages on the beach.

Boris Johnson has faced ridicule and accusations of hypocrisy for travelling to Carbis Bay by private jet. Some of the other leaders have been more concerned about the extent to which quarantine rules apply to them.

But amid the ever-present reminders that 2021 is a year unlike any other, one of the biggest changes will be entirely invisible: carbon dioxide is now at a higher level in the atmosphere than at any point in the last 4m years, newly released data has shown. The world has entered uncharted territory where global heating is concerned, and greenhouse gas emissions are rising strongly still.

The message could not be clearer: if the world fails to act now, the future will be changed beyond anything the coronavirus pandemic has brought about. Lord Stern, the climate economist, said: “This is a crucial moment in history. Either we recover [from the pandemic] in a strong and sustainable way, or we do not. We are at a real fork in the road. This decade is decisive.”

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The Guardian, 11 Jun 2021: G7 leaders face make-or-break moment in climate crisis