COP26: 5 climate takeaways from day 2 of the Glasgow talks

Here’s what happened on day two.

About 100 nations and parties have signed a global pledge to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2020 levels by 2030, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced in Glasgow on Tuesday.

Methane, which is the main constituent of natural gas, is an extremely potent greenhouse gas. Invisible and odorless, it has 80 times more short-term heating power than carbon dioxide.

Von der Leyen said a reduction in methane emissions “will immediately slow down climate change.”

Helen Mountford, vice president of climate and economics at the World Resources Institute, an environmental research organization, said reducing methane emissions was essential to prevent the planet from warming above 1.5 degrees Celsius, a key threshold identified by scientists.

“This promise … sets a strong floor in relation to the ambition we need globally,” Mountford said in a statement. “Strong and rapid efforts to reduce methane emissions offer a range of benefits, ranging from reducing short-term heating and reducing air pollution to improved food safety and better public health.”

US President Joe Biden said the pressure to reduce methane emissions is as much an economic option as it is an environmental one.

“This is not just something we need to do to protect the environment, our future,” Biden said Tuesday. “It is a huge opportunity, a huge opportunity for all of us, all of our nations, to create jobs and also make meaningful climate goals a central part of our global economic recovery.”

China warms up to ‘1.5 degrees’

China’s special envoy for climate change Xie Zhenhua said on Tuesday that his country “did not resist” the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

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China has been reluctant to strictly commit to the figure of 1.5 degrees, and has preferred to say it will commit to keeping warming “below 2 degrees and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees.”

But Xie seemed to warm up for the goal on Tuesday.

“I do not oppose the 1.5 degree target. It is in fact part of the Paris Agreement target. Talking about global climate targets must be based on rules. Since 1.5 degrees Celsius is part of the Paris targets, we are certain not against this goal, “he said.

China is the world’s biggest polluter, so its support for the goal is crucial. Xie is China’s top climate negotiator, and as such, he is without a doubt one of the most powerful people attending the Glasgow Summit. Earlier Tuesday, he criticized the West for “not delivering” their commitment to provide $ 100 billion in annual climate finance to developing countries.

“I spoke recently with the Supreme COP26 President Alok Sharma and with (the US climate envoy) John Kerry and ministers of many other countries. And they told me that we have to wait until 2022 or even 2023 to reach the goal at $ 100 billion., the target set for before 2020, “he told reporters.

Meanwhile, Kerry, speaking to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday, said the United States was working with China “without challenging them in any personal way.”

“China has said ‘we will strictly limit coal,'” Kerry said. “What we are trying to do is work with China in a cooperative way to show how they could speed up the transition.”

Helps South Africa go from coal

The US, UK, France, Germany and the EU have announced they will help fund South Africa’s transition away from coal.
The US, UK and EU will help fund South Africa's coal phasing out and offer a model for developing countries

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the $ 8.5 billion initial partnership would help South Africa decarbonise its coal-intensive energy system. Details of the funding have not yet been released and diplomats expect it to be phased out in the coming months.

Climate scientists and some diplomats say the South Africa agreement could pave the way for similar agreements with other developing countries that are heavy polluters – a critical step in limiting global warming and avoiding a complete climate catastrophe.

The promise to fund a transition from coal will be noticed by politicians in developing countries, because South Africa is among the most coal-dependent nations in the world.

Vulnerable countries are asking for help

The second day of the leaders’ summit featured a series of emotional speeches from leaders from African and small island nations.

The Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), a group uniting the 48 countries most at risk of climate change, convened a meeting on Tuesday at COP26 and called on the rich world to help them move to green economies and deal with the consequences of rising temperatures.

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CVF Ambassador and former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed called on large and small countries to stand together and “not give up.”

“It’s extremely naive for leaders to say they want to save people’s jobs by sticking to fossil fuels,” he said. “Everyone is vulnerable now, not just us small islands.”

Leaders of the group had a similar chorus: While their countries are among the least polluting in the world, they are at the forefront of the climate crisis.

“The IPCC is showing that Africa is heating up faster than any continent in the world, even though we are the smallest emitters,” Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo told the forum, citing the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “That is why we stand with the Africa Group and the CVF in calling on developed countries to take the lead in reducing emissions.”

Kerry also attended the meeting. Recognizing the difficulties facing vulnerable countries, he also called on them to act on climate change and reduce their own emissions.

“I want to be very direct with you. Your complaint about what got us here is legitimate. The future will be defined, but what we choose to do,” Kerry said. “If we are to be accountable to ourselves out in the world, we need to reduce emissions, and we also need to be accountable by doing enough to make an adjustment to take care of damage and to help countries work through it. “

More details on deforestation

The big promise to end deforestation by 2030, which more than 100 countries announced on Monday, began to take a clearer form as several governments announced concrete commitments.
More than 100 countries agree to end and reverse deforestation by 2030 at COP26

The EU has pledged € 1 billion ($ 1.1 billion) to help protect the world’s forests over the next five years, a quarter of which will be reserved for the Congo Basin pledge, a fund set up to protect the world’s second largest tropical rainforest against the threats caused by industrial logging and mining.

The UK said it would commit £ 1.5 billion ($ 2 billion) over five years to support the pledge, including £ 350 million ($ 475 million) for tropical forests in Indonesia and up to £ 300 million ($ 408 million) estimated to the Amazon.

And Biden promised $ 9 billion on behalf of the United States.

“This plan is the first of its kind to take an entire government approach and work our case with Congress to spend up to $ 9 billion in US funding by 2030 to preserve and restore our forests and mobilize billions more from our partners,” ” he said. .

CNN’s David McKenzie and Ella Nilsen contributed to this report.

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