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COP26 President Alok Sharma at Whitelee Windfarm, in Scotland, on May 14, 2021.

RUSSELL CHEYNE/Reuters

Britain’s COP26 President Alok Sharma visited Russia on Tuesday to urge one of the world’s largest emitters of carbon dioxide to commit to net zero by 2050, praising Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin for his support for tackling climate change.

Britain, which hosts the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, or COP26, in Glasgow on Oct. 31-Nov 12, is seeking to get big power support for a more radical plan to tackle climate change.

“I welcome the support President Putin has shown for international co-operation on tackling climate change, and look forward to constructive discussions here in Moscow,” Sharma said in a statement.

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“Russia is an essential player in the fight against climate change.”

Scientists, activists and world leaders say human activity – primarily the release of carbon dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere – is heating up the planet in a way that will lead to devastating changes to the weather and so to life as we know it.

Scientists say there has already been around 1.0 degree Celsius of global warming since pre-industrial levels due to human activity.

Britain wants countries to be more ambitious to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and so limit the average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees this century – as was agreed under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

China is the world’s largest fossil fuel carbon dioxide emitter, followed by the United States, India, the European Union plus Britain, and then Russia, according to the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research.

Some skeptics say the models used in climate science are not conclusive and fear the regulation that is required to meet some of the targets will hurt economic growth.

But climate activists say world governments are not going fast or far enough to tackle climate change and warn that many political leaders are making grand pledges without giving a clear idea of how to achieve their stated ambitions.

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“By capitalizing on the benefits offered by shifting to a cleaner, greener economy, Russia has an opportunity to show real leadership as the world continues on its journey to net zero emissions,” Sharma said.

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