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COP26 faces

Last weekend the COP26 world climate summit has started in Glasgow, Scotland - and with it the struggle for a lot of money and useful results. Some people were particularly in the focus - even if they weren't present.

Some people are not even present at the COP26 in Glasgow, but nevertheless shape the discussions (Image: Pixabay)Some people are not even present at the COP26 in Glasgow, but nevertheless shape the discussions (Image: Pixabay)

It was her last big appearance on the international stage: on the first working day of the world climate summit, outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a much-noticed speech and put her potential successor Olaf Scholz, along with his planned so called 'traffic light coalition', under a lot of pressure. Six years after the Paris climate agreement, the reduction targets set so far are not enough to achieve what was hoped for at the time, Merkel said (see below, image: Pixabay). She called for a "decade of action" - which the government she has led for the past decade has sorely lacked.

"It is ironic that after 16 years of progress that has been too slow, she is now laying such a clear call to action at the door of the incoming government," noted Christoph Bals, political director of Germanwatch.

Whether Merkel's voice was also heard in China is doubtful, as the most prominent truant at the event was China's President Xi Jinping. His country is still the largest emitter of environmentally harmful CO2 and continues to build coal-fired power plants. According to official figures, 200 plants are currently under construction. Despite some promises in recent months, 60 percent of China's electricity still comes from coal-fired power.

And so there was no sparing criticism of China's absence from the world climate summit. U.S. President Joe Biden (see left, image: Pixabay) seized the opportunity: With all global progress, one must also take note of "what China is not doing, what Russia is not doing, and what Saudi Arabia is not doing," he said. The latter's climate record in his own country has also been rather meager so far, because the large investment package, which also includes climate protection measures and infrastructure improvements, has still not found a majority in the two chambers.

But at least Biden can rely on his American citizens: Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and currently the second richest person in the world, announced a donation of two billion dollars by the Bezos Earth Fund - after he was flown to Glasgow right in style on his private jet. The money is part of a total of ten billion dollars Bezos plans to donate by 2030 to fight climate change.

And colleague Elon Musk (see right, image: Pixabay), currently the richest person in the world, also announced a billion-dollar donation on Twitter, albeit tied to one condition. Earlier, David Beasley, executive director of the UN World Food Program, told CNN TV that just two percent of Musk's fortune would be enough to feed all the hungry people in the world. "$6 billion to help 42 million people that are literally going to die if we don't reach them. It's not complicated," he said. That got Musk's attention: "If WFP can describe on this Twitter thread exactly how $6B will solve world hunger, I will sell Tesla stock right now and do it." However, in exchange, he demanded that the UN open its books, saying that only if the public could understand how the UN was actually spending the money would he want to donate. Beasley responded by offering Musk's team to audit the books.

So it's up to billionaire Musk to show whether he really wants to save the world - at least a little bit.

Katrin Radtke
COP26, donation, Angela Merkel, Glasgow, Elon Musk, Joe Biden, China, Jeff Bezos, billion, climate change, Russia

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