Sharma will make his remarks in a speech at the UNESCO World Heritage Center in the French capital, where nearly 200 nations struck the landmark Paris Agreement in 2015, agreeing to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with a preference to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.
“COP26 is not a photo op or a talking shop. It must be the forum where we put the world on track to deliver on climate. And that is down to leaders. It is leaders who made a promise to the world in this great city six years ago. And it is leaders that must honor it,” Sharma will say, according to prepared remarks sent to journalists.
“Responsibility rests with each and every country. And we must all play our part. Because on climate, the world will succeed or fail as one.”
The summit is less than three weeks away and will be held in the Scottish city of Glasgow, with the UK government hosting the meeting.
As the talks draw closer, Sharma has been using more forceful language toward countries with weak pledges.
In an interview with Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald last week, Sharma called on Australia to double its emissions-reduction pledge to fall more in line with countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as the European Union.
Parties to the Paris Agreement were required to update their pledges, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), by July 31 this year.
Australia updated its NDC on New Year’s Eve last year, with little fanfare, offering the same commitment as it did five years earlier — a 26-28% reduction by 2030 from 2005 levels, around half that of the United States, and well below the EU’s and UK’s plans. But the idea of the five-year update is to put forward more ambitious pledges.
For political reasons, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also resisted calls to commit to net-zero emissions by mid-century, even though every state and territory in the country has made the pledge.
Countries can achieve net zero when greenhouse gas emissions fall to zero through a combination of reducing current emissions and removing previous emissions from the atmosphere. Dozens of countries have made a mid-century commitment to reaching net zero.
China, India and Saudi Arabia, G20 nations that together account for around a third of global greenhouse gases, have not submitted updated plans. Turkey only ratified the agreement last week.
Boris Johnson calls Saudi, Indian leaders
Sharma’s speech comes a day after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke with leaders in India and Saudi Arabia to press them on their climate goals, among other bilateral issues.
In his call with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Johnson “underlined the importance of making concrete progress on climate change ahead of and at the upcoming COP26 Summit,” a 10 Downing Street statement reads.
“He noted that India already lead the world in renewable technology and expressed his hope that they will commit to a more ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution and to achieving Net Zero emissions.”
According to a readout of Johnson’s call with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman: “The Prime Minister hoped to see a Net Zero commitment and an ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution from Saudi Arabia, noting the country’s recent leadership on addressing climate change.”
The United Arabs Emirates last week became the first Persian Gulf petrostate to make a net zero pledge.
In his Paris speech, Sharma will lay out his plans for the upcoming conference, including a pathway on how negotiators can “keep 1.5 alive,” a key goal on his agenda. To achieve this, Sharma will press countries to reduce coal, boost the use of electric cars, protect trees and reduce methane emissions. He will also push developed countries to honor a pledge to transfer $100 billion a year to the Global South to assist its green transition.
Sharma will also explain what the UK government is doing to overcome the logistical challenges in bringing so many delegates, civil society groups and journalists together during a pandemic.
“It will be an extraordinary COP in extraordinary times. But collectively, we must pull together to make it work. Forging unity from the unfamiliar. Because we have no choice but to deliver,” he will say.
“Each country must step-up. And as COP26 President I will ensure that every voice is heard. That the smallest nations are sitting face to face with the world’s great powers. As equal parties to the process.”