The latest at COP26:
- More than 100 countries joined pledges to end deforestation by 2030 and to cut methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030
- Leaders formed a new coalition to tackle the growing climate hazards and shrinking water reserves.
- U.K., India launch plan to connect world’s power grids at climate summit
- Canada’s Justin Trudeau takes carbon pricing debate to the global stage
Catch up on yesterday’s events here, and what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reaffirmed in his pledge to impose greenhouse-gas emissions caps on Canada’s oil-and-gas industry. Also, read about why the summit started quieter than expected.
2:00 p.m. ET
China envoy defends emissions, criticizes U.S. under Trump
China is at a “special development stage” that warrants its current status as the world’s biggest emitter of climate-damaging fossil fuel pollution, the nation’s senior climate negotiator said Tuesday.
Xie Zhenhua, a special climate envoy for China, spoke to reporters at the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow.
As a major climate polluter and as the world’s second-biggest economy, China has been much talked about, but little seen, at the summit. Chinese President Xi Jinping — who is not known to have left the country during the pandemic — has not joined the more than 100 other world leaders at the event, addressing observers and delegates in a written message Monday instead.
China and U.S. officials long have played a mutual blame game as global warming intensifies, with China faulting the U.S. as the world’s largest climate polluter historically, and Donald Trump’s administration in particular pointing to China’s pollution in justifying rollbacks of U.S. climate efforts
Xie faulted the U.S., saying it was Trump’s withdrawal that slowed down climate efforts.
“We have wasted already five years” owing to the U.S. withdrawal from the climate accord, Xie said. “And now we need to work harder and catch up.”
2:00 p.m. ET
Trudeau confident world can limit rise in temperatures to 1.5 degrees C
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday said he was confident the world could limit the rise in temperature to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
“I am confident we are going to continue to keep pushing ourselves and each other to be more and more ambitious,” he told reporters at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.
1:00 p.m. ET
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos pledges $2 billion to reduce land erosion
Bezos said the Bezos Earth Fund, which he founded last year to execute his $10 billion commitment to fund scientists, activists and non-profit organizations in the fight against climate change, was “eager to participate” to work on restoring natural environments in Africa.
He added Amazon aimed to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2040, powering all of its operations with renewable energy by 2025 and converting its delivery fleet to electric vehicles.
Bezos is one of the world’s richest men, with a net worth of more than $191 billion according to Forbes’ real-time billionaire index.
12:50 p.m. ET
U.K., India launch plan to connect world’s power grids at climate summit
Britain and India launched a plan on Tuesday to improve connections between the world’s electricity power grids to help accelerate the world’s transition to greener energy.
The plan, dubbed the “Green Grids Initiative – One Sun One World One Grid,” was backed by more than 80 countries, the British government said in a statement.
The initiative aims to make renewable energy the most affordable and reliable option for all countries by 2030 and was an important contribution to the world’s goal of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial norms.
“If the world has to move to a clean and green future, these interconnected transnational grids are going to be critical solutions,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a statement.
11:30 a.m. ET
Nicola Sturgeon denies using COP26 to promote Scottish independence
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has denied trying to use COP26 to promote Scottish independence.
On Sunday the Scottish National Party, which Ms. Sturgeon leads, took out full-page advertisements in several Scottish newspapers that read: “A nation in waiting welcomes the nations of the world.” The ad featured a picture of Ms. Sturgeon and her signature. At the bottom it said; “We’re busy creating a greener, fairer, sustainable Scotland. While not yet an independent nation, we’re more than ready and able to play our part on the global stage at COP26.”
The ads have drawn sharp criticism from opposition politicians. “Even when world leaders are in Glasgow to focus on the future of the planet, the first instinct of the SNP is to push their divisive independence obsession,” said Donald Cameron, the Scottish Conservative’s constitution critic.
On Tuesday Ms. Sturgeon denied the ads were about independence. “We didn’t launch a campaign. We had adverts in a couple of newspapers welcoming people to Scotland,” she told reporters. “I think there is a difference.”
Ms. Sturgeon has been pushing for a second referendum on sovereignty. A fresh vote requires the consent of the U.K. government and so far Prime Minister Boris Johnson has rejected the idea. Mr. Johnson argues that Scots decided the issue in 2014 when they voted 55 per cent against independence. Ms. Sturgeon says the U.K.’s subsequent decision to leave the European Union, which a majority of Scots rejected, has changed matters and Scotland has a right to decide its future. Polls show support for independence hovering around 50 per cent.
- Paul Waldie
10:40 a.m. ET
More than 100 countries, representing 70% of global GDP, join pledge to cut methane emissions
More than 100 countries have joined a U.S.- and EU-led effort to slash emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane 30 per cent by 2030 from 2020 levels, an initiative aimed at tackling one of the main causes of climate change.
Methane is the main greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide. It has a higher heat-trapping potential than CO2 but breaks down in the atmosphere faster - meaning that cutting methane emissions can have a rapid impact in reining in global warming.
The Global Methane Pledge, launched at the COP26 summit in Glasgow on Tuesday after being announced in September, now covers countries representing nearly half of global methane emissions and 70 per cent of global GDP, U.S. President Joe Biden said.
“Together, we’re committing to collectively reduce our methane by 30 per cent by 2030. And I think we can probably go beyond that,” Biden said.
“It’s going to boost our economies, saving companies money, reducing methane leaks, capturing methane to turn it into new revenue streams, as well as creating good paying union jobs for our workers.”
Among the new signatories was Brazil – one of the world’s five biggest emitters of methane.
China, Russia and India, also top-five methane emitters, have not signed on to the pledge. Those countries were all included on a list identified as targets to join the pledge, first reported by Reuters.
“Methane is one of the gases we can cut fastest. Doing that will immediately slow down climate change,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.
The Globe and Mail
9:30 a.m. ET
South Africa promised $8.5-billion to ditch coal plants
The United States and several European countries plan to provide funds and expertise to help South Africa ditch coal and roll out more renewable energy.
German officials said South Africa will receive about $8.5 billion in loans and grants over five years to manage the country’s transition away from coal-fired power plants, which are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.
South Africa gets about 90 per cent of its electricity from coal-fired plants.
German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said the partnership announced Tuesday. which is also backed by Britain, France and the European Union, “has the potential to become a blueprint for other regions.”
One focus of the initiative will be helping to create new jobs for tens of thousands of people in South Africa’s coal mining industry.
8:00 a.m. ET
Leaders form coalition to tackle shrinking water reserves and climate crisis at COP26
Governments and U.N. agencies meeting at COP26 formed a water and climate coalition on Tuesday to address growing hazards and shrinking reserves.
Led by the presidents of Tajikistan and Hungary, the coalition will seek to implement reforms which the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization says are needed in the global management of water resources.
Data over the past 20 years shows that the amount of water stored on or near the land surface such as soil moisture as well as snow and ice has dropped at a rate of 1 centimetre a year, the WMO said, with huge ramifications for water security.
Melting glaciers are also set to increase the risk of landslides and avalanches and deprive the many millions of people living downstream of a key resource, it added.
The coalition will aim to boost data sharing and create a more integrated approach to water-climate management to support more effective adaptation and resilience, the WMO said.
7:50 a.m. ET
Israeli minister in wheelchair gains access to COP26 a day late
Using wheelchair access now in place and with Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at her side, the country’s energy minister made a delayed entrance on Tuesday to the United Nation’s COP26 summit in Glasgow.
The minister, Karine Elharrar, said on Monday she was sad that she could not reach the conference grounds because the only options to get there from the gathering area were to walk or board a shuttle that was not suited to her wheelchair.
7:20 a.m. ET
Trudeau takes carbon pricing debate to the global stage
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pushed the world to have 60 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions covered by a price on pollution in 2030, during a speech on Tuesday.
Trudeau started his second and final day at the annual climate negotiations by co-hosting a carbon pricing event, showcasing Canada’s carbon price as one of the most ambitious and, in his words, stringent in the world.
“What a strong carbon price does, when it’s properly designed, is actually drive those price signals to the private sector, transform the economy and support citizens in encouraging them to make better choices,” he said.
He started the first day with a speech calling on the rest of the world to follow Canada’s lead and negotiate a global minimum carbon price.
- The Canadian Press
6:20 a.m. ET
Over 100 countries vow to end deforestation at climate talks
World leaders gathered at the COP26 climate summit have reached an agreement to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030.
The deal, which will be announced on Tuesday, has been signed by more than 100 leaders and includes a pledge of US$19.2-billion in public and private funding to help developing nations restore degraded land. Countries including Canada, Russia, Brazil and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have endorsed what is being called the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forest and Land Use.
The pledge also includes a new US$1.5-billion fund to protect the Congo Basin, which is home to the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world. The area has been under threat from logging, mining and agriculture.
- Paul Waldie
6:20 a.m. ET
COP26 lack of accessibility forced Israel minister to miss Monday events
COP26 organizers are facing embarrassment after Israel’s energy and water resources minister couldn’t attend on Monday because the venue was not wheelchair accessible.
Karine Elharrar, who has muscular dystrophy, was forced to wait for two hours outside the Scottish Events Campus after organizers refused to let her in. She was offered a shuttle bus to the summit area but her office said the vehicle couldn’t accommodate a wheelchair, forcing her to return to her hotel in Edinburgh.
“I came to COP26 to meet with my counterparts around the world and promote a common struggle in the climate crisis,” Ms. Elharrar said on Twitter. “It is sad that the UN, which promotes accessibility for people with disabilities, in 2021, does not provide accessibility to its events.”
Israel’s delegation has formally complained to organizers over the incident and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has made it clear that he will not attend on Tuesday if Ms. Elharrar cannot access the building.
“We deeply regret that incident” said Britain’s Environment Secretary George Eustice who added that the government had apologized to Ms. Eliharrar.
Mr. Eustice said the centre does have wheelchair access and that there had been a miscommunication. “What would normally happen in this situation is that Israel would have communicated that they had that particular need for their minister,” Mr. Eustice told BBC. “There was obviously something that went wrong in this instance and they weren’t aware of that so they hadn’t made the right provisions at that particular entrance she was coming too.”
Other entrances have wheelchair access, he added. “It was because she obviously came to an entrance that didn’t have that provision.”
Ms. Elharrar managed to get into the conference on Tuesday and planned to have a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
- Paul Waldie
5:45 a.m. ET
China says President Xi was given no option for video address to COP26
China said on Tuesday that President Xi Jinping was not given an opportunity to deliver a video address to the COP26 climate talks in Scotland and had to send a written response instead.
Xi, who is not attending the United Nations meeting in person, delivered a written statement to the opening “high-level segment for heads of state and government” on Monday in which he offered no additional pledges, while urging countries to keep their promises and “strengthen mutual trust and cooperation.”
“As I understand it, the conference organizers did not provide the video link method,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters at a regular briefing.
- A guide to the Glasgow climate talks – the world’s most consequential environment conference
- COP26 is a circus with a purpose: Putting climate change in the spotlight so no country can ignore it
- What’s a COP? Who sets NDCs? Explaining key concepts for the Glasgow climate conference
- Editorial board: The global warming alarm clock is ringing. Wake up
The Globe and Mail
Our climate newsletter is written by Globe reporters and editors, giving you the latest on all things environment related. Sign up today.