COP26: 7 climate takeaways from Day 1 of the Glasgow negotiations

The first major commitment that came out of the conference was a major one: More than 100 leaders representing more than 85% of the world’s forests agreed to halt deforestation by 2030. The agreement will be officially announced on Tuesday, but a statement from the British government confirmed the deal late Monday.

Among the nations participating in the pledge are Canada, Russia, Colombia, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which have some of the world’s most important carbon sinks.

The crucial thing was that Brazil also signed up. A deforestation crisis has ravaged the Amazon in recent years, jeopardizing one of the world’s most crucial natural defenses against climate change, and the country’s President Jair Bolsonaro has been urged both at home and abroad to step up his response.
The Amazon rainforest is one of the world's most important natural defenses against climate change.

The apology of the bite

President Joe Biden apologized to his world leaders for the United States withdrawing from the Paris Agreement under the Trump administration.

“I do not think I should apologize, but I apologize for the fact that the United States – the last administration – withdrew from the Paris Agreement and put us a little behind the 8-ball,” Biden said in Glasgow.

Biden apologizes to world leaders for Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement

Biden re-entered the agreement just hours after he was sworn in in January.

When world leaders made their introductory remarks, Biden sat at the back of the huge plenary room, in keeping with the tradition of seats being allocated in alphabetical order.

“We want to demonstrate to the world that the United States is not only back at the table, but hopefully leading by the power of our example,” the president said during his opening speech.

But as Biden struck an ambitious tone during his speech, telling attendees that his “administration is working overtime to show that our climate commitment is about action, not words,” a shadow hung over his climate agenda over the ocean in Washington.
Democratic lawmakers have discussed, and so far failed to agree on, an economic package that includes $ 555 billion in climate change legislation.

The UK is driving the big names out

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson is leaving the stage after speaking at COP26 on Monday.

The British government, which is hosting the UN climate summit in Glasgow, has tried its best to pressure world leaders that now is the time to act on climate change.

At the opening ceremony, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his heads of government that they may be like James Bond, the famous (albeit fictional) 007 agent.

“We may not feel much like James Bond – not all of us necessarily look like James Bond – but we have the opportunity and we have a duty to make this summit the moment humanity finally began to disarm that bomb,” he said.

“The doomsday unit is real, and the clock is ticking to the furious rhythm of hundreds of billions of turbines and systems … covering the Earth in a suffocating blanket of CO2,” he said.

Royalty – both real and of the TV variety – was also present where Prince Charles encouraged leaders to work together and the famous naturalist and TV station David Attenborough told them that future generations would judge them by their actions during this conference .

Later in the day, Queen Elizabeth II welcomed world leaders in a video speech played during a reception.

“For more than seventy years I have been fortunate to meet and know many of the great leaders of the world. And I may have come to understand a little of what made them special,” the Queen said in her speech. “It has sometimes been observed that what leaders do for their people today is government and politics. But what they do for the people of the future – it is statesmanship.”

India promises net zero

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made headlines on Monday by announcing a net zero emissions target that promised India would become CO2 neutral by 2070.
Although it was a big announcement as India had not yet set a date on its net-zero ambition, the 2070 target is a decade later than China’s, and two decades after the world as a whole has to achieve net-zero emissions in order to prevent temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at COP26.

But Ulka Kelkar, climate program director at WRI India, an environmental research organization, said that due to India’s economic development and energy mix, the target date should not be compared to that of the United States or Europe.

“It was a lot more than we had hoped for,” Kelkar said. “Net-zero became a topic of public discourse just six months ago. This is something very new to Indians.”

“Just getting this concept understood in India will send a very strong signal to all industrial sectors,” she added.

With India’s announcement, all of the world’s top 10 coal power countries have committed to net zero, according to climate think tank Ember.

Australia boasts of exceeding low emission targets

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison trumpeted his country’s efforts to reduce emissions, claiming that Australia was on track to reduce its emissions by 35% by 2030.

These figures would exceed the country’s commitment in the Paris Agreement. The problem, however, is that Australia’s targets are dramatically lower than many other major economies in the first place.

Australia will be the richest world link at COP26 with hollow net zero and emissions promises

Australia has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26% to 28% by 2030, from 2005 levels, a commitment exceeded in relation to those given by the US, EU and UK, among other developed nations.

For example, US President Joe Biden increased his country’s commitment in April to reduce emissions by 50% to 52% within the same time frame. The Australian Government, which is independent of the government, has said a 75% cut in emissions would be more appropriate.

Morrison’s bullish speech will not have done much to strengthen Australia’s status at the conference. Despite the country being devastated by forest fires in 2019 and 2020, the country‚Äôs government has worried other developed nations with its rhetoric and drag on the climate crisis in recent weeks.

The disappointment of small nations

Delegates from smaller nations have expressed their disappointment at the action (or rather lack of action) from the world’s richest nations.

Floods destroyed his home four times in three years.  This is the reality of climate change for India's poor

Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, an island already deeply threatened by rising sea levels, has warned that the climate crisis facing her country is dangerous. She said it was a “red code for China, for the United States, for Europe, for India.”

Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne told CNN he was “encouraged by the increased ambitions” set by world leaders at the COP26 summit, but also expressed disappointment, saying the goals set did not go “far enough to limit rising global temperatures of 1.5 degrees Celsius. “

And Panama President Laurentino Cortizo said he did not feel optimistic about what the COP26 conference could achieve.

“We’ve heard all this before. What we need is action,” Cortizo said. “I’m not optimistic there will be enough of that.”

Covid-19 measures hamper negotiations

The COP26 president, British lawmaker Alok Sharma, said being able to hold personal talks despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic was a key goal of his presidency.

“For me, it was crucial that we have a physical meeting where all countries are able to sit at the table, the biggest emitters, along with smaller nations, those who are at the forefront of climate change, and to be able to see each other. second in the eye as part of this debate, “he told reporters Sunday.

But keeping the event Covid-free has been a challenge.

All participants were asked to wear masks and take daily coronavirus tests. And even though the venue is huge (about 1 mile from one end to the other), the large number of people at the venue makes social distancing.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the body responsible for the negotiations, has acknowledged that the pandemic is causing problems. For example, due to social distancing, the largest room reserved for negotiations can only hold 144 seats – although there are 193 parties to be represented at the conference.

CNN’s Amy Cassidy and Ingrid Formanek contributed to this report.


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