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COP26: Lessons From The Failure Of Glasgow

The final deal at COP26 falls well short of what's needed to confront global warming. Still, the Glasgow summit has provided a new blueprint for how we measure progress — and shown how pressure can be applied to world leaders.

photo of a globe handing over a conference room

The hope of controlling global warming is further eroding

Lucie Robequain

-Analysis-

PARIS — Commit to making new promises… next year. This is pretty much what the world leaders agreed to do at the end of the COP26 conference on climate change. They are so terrified of the idea of enforcing any kind of restriction, even the smallest ones, or imposing any additional cost on their citizens — just look at soaring energy prices — that they are postponing the hard decisions.

Strong opposition came particularly from Beijing and New Delhi, which managed to remove the gradual ending of coal activities from the final agreement, and to replace it with a simple reduction.

World leaders were happy to commit to long-term carbon neutrality targets, which their successors will have to handle. Yet there are still too many heads of state who are refusing to initiate any painful action in the coming decade — the only one for which they will be truly accountable.

China, Russia, India and Australia have clearly failed.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

The Dead And Disappeared: A Village Emerges From 72 Days Of Russian Occupation

Russian forces have been pushed out of the area around Kharkiv. Villages that were occupied for two months are free once more — but utterly destroyed. And thousands of people have disappeared without a trace.

Kharkiv and the surrounding villages faced weeks of constant Russian shelling.

Alfred Hackensberger

TSYKRUNY — Andriy Kluchikov uses a walking stick, but is otherwise fairly sprightly for a 94-year-old. Under his black wool hat, Kluchikov seems fearless as he surveys his hometown in northeastern Ukraine. “The missiles don't scare me,” he says with a smile. “I have slept in my own bed every night and never went down into the basement.”

As for the two-meter-wide bomb crater that has appeared in his garden, between the vegetable patch and the greenhouse with its shattered plastic roof, Kluchikov almost seems proud. “No one can intimidate me,” he says. “Not even the Russians.”

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In the early days of the war, in February, Russian artillery almost completely destroyed this village of Tsyrkuny, near Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city. Only a few houses, including his own, were left undamaged. Shortly afterwards, Russian troops marched into the village and occupied it for 72 days. It was not until early this week that the Ukrainian army was able to liberate Tsyrkuny and many other areas to the north of the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv.

It is the Ukrainians’ most successful counter-offensive so far. They are thought to have pushed the invading troops back almost to the Russian border. “The offensive is gaining momentum,” according to the independent American thinktank Institute for the Study of War. “It has forced Russian troops on the defensive and has successfully alleviated artillery pressure on Kharkiv City.”

In the modern city of Kharkiv, home to around 1.5 million residents, the relief has been palpable over the last few days. Restaurants and cafes have reopened. People are walking and riding bikes in the parks, and couples are strolling hand in hand, enjoying the warm spring sunshine. You can still hear the artillery, but it is now many miles away.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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