The planet could descend into ‘conflict and chaos’ if world leaders fail to tackle climate change following the Cop26 summit in Glasgow next week, the UN’s top climate official has warned.

Patricia Espinosa is the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change executive secretary. She stated that if countries don’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions, global security and stability can be at risk.

In an interview with The Observer She described a bleak future for general anarchy resulting from climate catastrophe. She warned about migration crises, food insecurity, and an increase of terrorism and violent crime.

“We’re really concerned about maintaining stability in countries, preserving the institutions we have built over so long, and preserving the best goals our countries have set. She warned that the worst scenario would be one in which there would be massive influxes of people.

It would lead to less food, which would cause a crisis in food safety. It would make it more difficult for people to escape terrible situations, terrorist groups, and violent groups. It would lead to a lot of instability.

“We know what past migration crises have caused. We could see it in higher numbers, not just international migration but also internal migration. [it would]This can lead to very serious problems.

It comes as Boris Johnson prepares in Scotland to welcome global leaders next week for the Cop26 Climate Summit. Johnson wants countries to pledge to reduce carbon emissions. 

Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, insisted global security and stability could break down if countries fail to curb greenhouse gas emissions

Patricia Espinosa (executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) stated that if countries fail curb their greenhouse gas emissions, global security and stability could be at risk.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during an event to launch the United Nations' Climate Change conference, Cop26, in London on February 4, 2020

Boris Johnson, Prime Minster, at an event to inaugurate the United Nations Climate Change Conference, Cop26, in London, on February 4, 2020

What COULD be achieved at Cop26’s climate summit? 

The Cop26 summit in Glasgow will be billed as the largest UN climate conference since 2015, when countries signed the Paris Agreement in Paris.

However, there is no big new deal like the Paris Agreement to agree at Cop26 – instead Glasgow has to deliver on the promises made six years ago and, alongside the formal UN negotiations, drive action to tackle the worsening climate crisis.

Here are some key areas where action needs to be taken and where momentum could help Glasgow become a success.

– Keeping 1.5C within reach

Glasgow has been called the last best chance to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C over the long-term.

Under the Paris Agreement, countries committed to curbing temperature rises to ‘well below’ 2C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5C – beyond which worsening impacts of climate change will be felt.

However, in 2015, it was clear that the emission cuts countries had signed up for left the world far from the track to meet the global temperatures goals. Therefore, the Paris deal required countries to present more ambitious national plans post-2020 to Cop26.

Even with the many new plans presented by countries, the world is far from meeting the 1.5C target. There are concerns that some nations might shift their focus to post-2030 actions, which will require more effort in the next 10 year.

The UK wants to see countries address how to close that gap between ambitions, and the action required up until 2030. This is part the negotiated text which it is hoped can be reached by the end the two-week-long negotiations.

– Cash

The key to success at Cop26 is delivering on a long-promised 100 billion dollars (£72 billion) a year for 2020 to 2025 for poorer countries to develop cleanly and cope with the impacts of climate change.

It is seen as a matter for trust between developed and developing nations for donor countries that deliver on the promise private and public climate financing. Discussions will also begin about unlocking additional funds following 2025.

There is pressure to split finance equally between efforts for cutting emissions and adapting to climate change. However, there is also pressure to address demand for support for losses and damage caused due to extreme weather or rising seas.

– Coal

According to the International Energy Agency, coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel and must be eliminated in order to meet climate goals.

The UK wants more momentum to end the use of coal and is asking developed countries to pledge to phase it out by 2030 (or 2040 for developing countries) and to stop the construction of new plants.

– Cars

Road transport is responsible for 10% of global emissions. Countries are being asked to pledge to make all new cars and vans zero-emission by 2035 or 2040, and to put in place policies to increase uptake.

Manufacturers of vehicles are also being urged not to sell any vehicles with emissions above 2035.

– Trees

Healthy and restored forests can absorb and lock up vast amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, and protecting trees – along with other carbon-storing natural habitats such as peatlands – is seen as key to cutting emissions and helping communities and wildlife cope with climate change.

Countries are being urged to take action to stop and reverse deforestation and switch to sustainable agriculture.

– Methane

While the most significant greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide, methane – from sources including livestock, agriculture such as rice production and fossil fuel extraction – is a powerful, but short-lived climate-warming gas.

The key to reducing global warming is to reduce methane emissions.

A ‘global Methane Pledge’ by the US and EU that commits countries to reducing their methane emissions by 30% by 2030 has already received a few signatures.

– The Paris rulebook

There are still some issues in the negotiations about how the Paris Agreement will work. These issues need to be resolved to make the agreement operational and effective.

There are three issues: transparency and Article 6. Common timeframes will also be important. Cop26 will need to negotiate these.

UN-run assessments of countries’ climate performance would be part of a transparency regime. However, all countries must agree to these reviews.

Countries are meant to submit updated climate plans – or NDCs – every five years under the Paris Agreement, but there is no coherence on how long a period those plans cover.

A common timeframe will help to clarify who is doing what and facilitate comparisons.

Then there’s Article 6, which is the section of the Paris Agreement that covers carbon markets.

These markets will allow countries to purchase carbon credits to finance clean projects, or to restore and protect forests in order to reduce their emissions.

In a powerful speech delivered in New York last month, the Prime Minster called on his UN counterparts “blow out the candles a world on fire” and to tackle climate change together.

However, key leaders – including Xi Jinping, president of China, now the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin – are unlikely to attend. 

Former Mexican minister Ms Espinosa stated that these absences would be no hindrance to a successful outcome. She added: “Not all countries are going being represented at head state level. 

“I don’t have any information regarding President Xi’s presence, but I continue my engagement with the Chinese delegation. There is very important engagement from China in this process.   

Last week, Mr Johnson unveiled his Net Zero strategy to turn Britain green by 2050 – but was warned by the Treasury that taxes and consumer costs could rise to cover the estimated £1trillion bill.  

In typical bullish style Mr Johnson insists that he is not afraid of ‘leading the charge’. He said that history has never been made by those who are at the back of class.

He claimed that Russia, China and China are ‘following us’ – even though President Xi and Putin are expected not to attend the Cop26 summit.

China also announced plans to increase oil and gas exploration and build more coal-fired power stations in recent weeks. This raises questions about China’s seriousness about environmental issues.

The Government claims that shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy can help reduce import dependence and protect families from price rises. 

It is estimated that 440,000 jobs with good pay can be created in the next decade.

As well as clean flights, a shift to electric cars by 2035, and gas boilers out by 2030, there will be a focus on encouraging homeowners to be more environmentally-conscious. This could include incentivizing mortgage lenders to prioritize properties with higher energy ratings. 

However, there are growing concerns from the Tory backbenches at the consequences of the push – which economists say is likely to cost £1trillion over 30 years, although the bill for dealing with climate change would almost certainly be higher.

Rishi Sunak’s Treasury issued a separate warning about the burden, stating that the transition would have’material fiscal implications’.

Although it acknowledged that global inaction on climate change would have greater costs than action, the assessment stated that the government must consider ‘wider and longer-term pressures on the public finances’.

The analysis revealed that subsidies for electric cars, such as government subsidies, tend to favor the wealthy while increasing costs for poorer families.

They said the bill for improving insulation varies massively between properties, from a few hundred pounds to nearly £8,500 for ‘non-standard dwellings’.

One chart flagged the huge range of possible outcomes from the Net Zero process – suggesting that heating, power and transport costs could rise from around £2,400 a year now to around £2,600 in 2050. However, they could also fall to £1,800 at the optimistic end of the spectrum. 

More than 120 world leaders will attend the event, which takes place at the Scottish Event Campus  from October 31 to November 12.

Road users are warned to expect disruptions as many routes around the venue may be closed for up three weeks with divertions in place.

Transport Scotland stated that severe congestion can be expected on certain days due a combination of road closings, security measures as well as an influx in delegates, poor weather and likely protests.

A section of Clydeside Expressway near the SEC was closed at 9pm Saturday. It will reopen on Monday, November 15, at 6am.

Other roads will close this weekend include Finnieston Street (or Lancefield Quay), and the Clyde Arc bridge.

Information about road, footpath and cycle way closures can be found on the website which also has details of all the alternative routes and will have day-by-day ‘heat’ maps showing where congestion is expected because of specific Cop26 events.

The conference will also have an impact on the wider city.

Meanwhile, the RMT union has confirmed ScotRail workers will strike between November 1-12 due to a dispute over pay.

Throughout the conference, a major security effort will be in place in Glasgow.

During the gathering of global leaders around 10,000 police officers will be deployed daily. Scotland’s forces will be bolstered with police from other parts.

The largest police operation in Scotland will include the use of all types of officers: mounted branch, search teams, firearms officers, and dog handlers.

As part of the security operation, police divers have been searching the River Clyde to ensure the safety of the conference.

The Ministry of Defence Police will provide a ’24/7 armed policing presence on the river’ during Cop26. They will also assist Police Scotland divers when necessary.

Temporary airspace restrictions will apply in the east and central parts of Scotland starting at 11.59pm on October 30 through 11:59pm November 13.

Glasgow residents were warned to expect disruption. The city council stated that it has been in communication with residents and businesses who live near the Cop26 venues to provide information.

Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said that businesses would welcome the boost to the retail and hospitality sectors.

He stated, “Cop26 places Glasgow on the global stage, and it is working hard to ensure a long-term legacy that reaps long term benefits, attracting future opportunities and investment into this city.

Mr Patrick stated that because of the scale of the event, there will undoubtedly be disruption to residents and businesses in and around Glasgow. The city will also function slightly differently.

“However, we are working together with the city council as well as the Scottish and UK governments to ensure that disruption is kept to a minimum.” 

The Armadillo, Exhibition Halls and SSE Hydro, on the Scottish Event Campus alongside the River Clyde in Glasgow, which will host the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties

The UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties will be held at the Armadillo and Exhibition Halls on the Scottish Event Campus, Glasgow.

A banner advertising the upcoming Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow

A banner advertising the Cop26 climate negotiations in Glasgow

Five schools and nurseries within the Cop26 vicinity will be closed November 1 and 2.

Glasgow City Council stated that the decision reflects the belief that children and young adults will learn better at home these days than commuting long distances to school.

Concerns have been raised about the appearance of the city at the summit. Waste workers are expected to strike during the conference if there isn’t a resolution to a pay dispute.

There are many people traveling to the city and concerns about the availability of accommodation.

The Scottish Government has asked people to open their homes to visitors as part of the Cop26 Homestay Network. This program encourages families to offer a place for guests to stay free of charge or at a reduced price.