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Photo: Barbara Ries

As world leaders gather in Glasgow for the most important climate summit of the decade, Ricardo Lagos reflects on what is at stake, and reiterates The Elders' calls for ambitious leadership at COP26.

Dear Friends,

Right now, world leaders, civil society and business representatives are gathered in Glasgow for COP26 – the most critical climate summit since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. The climate crisis is upon us and we cannot afford to waste any more time.

As Elders, we are guided by the vision of Nelson Mandela: to build a better world for all. The climate crisis is now threatening that world and hitting hardest those most vulnerable – and those who have done the least to put us in this increasingly desperate situation.

Leaders need to make concrete plans at COP26

With every new scientific report, the signs are more alarming. To limit global warming to 1.5°C, we need concrete plans to halve emissions by 2030 and thus reach a carbon-neutral world by 2050, in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. This will be a challenge at COP26 and require major political efforts, particularly from the leaders of the major emitting countries.

Our Chair Mary Robinson is present in Glasgow making the case for climate justice, and I encourage you to follow The Elders on social media for real-time updates on our activities. On behalf of The Elders, she will push for bold leadership to avert catastrophe, protect the vulnerable and build climate resilience.

As former world leaders, we Elders are hopeful this can be achieved. But hope alone is not enough – hope needs to be backed by decisive action. The Elders call on all leaders to put aside their political differences and to act now in the interests of our common humanity. 

I am pleased that climate change has become a mainstream issue, warranting the attention of leaders worldwide. While I welcome the increased focus on tackling the climate crisis, heightened by youth activism and civil society’s efforts, the rest of the world does not stop even during the most important climate summit of this decade.

Ethical leadership: vital to ensure a safe future

Recently, The Elders met in Washington to discuss our work on human rights, peacebuilding, access to justice, multilateralism and, of course, climate change. We also met with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan for a fruitful discussion on the importance of US leadership in addressing threats to peace and security, including tackling the climate crisis, advancing nuclear arms control, strengthening health security, and more.

Ethical leadership, at COP26 and beyond, is not just the right thing to do, it is the only viable option to ensure a safe, fair and healthy future for all.  

Ricardo Lagos


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Adapted from The Elders' monthly newsletter. Sign up for regular email updates from The Elders.

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