(GLASGOW, Scotland) — Leaders from nearly every country in the world have converged upon Glasgow, Scotland, for COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference that experts are touting as the most important environmental summit in history.
The conference, delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was designed as the check-in for the progress countries are making after entering the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, a value that would be disastrous to exceed, according to climate scientists. More ambitious efforts aim to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Not one country is going into COP26 on track to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, according to experts. They will need to work together to find collective solutions that will drastically cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.
“We need to move from commitments into action,” Jim Harmon, chairman of the World Resources Institute, told ABC News. “The path to a better future is still possible, but time is running out.”
All eyes will be on the biggest emitters: China, the U.S. and India. While China is responsible for about 26% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, more than all other developed countries combined, the cumulative emissions from the U.S. over the past century are likely twice that of China’s, David Sandalow, a senior research scholar at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, told ABC News.
Here’s how the conference is developing. All times Eastern:
Nov 03, 7:33 am
New climate targets announced for sports worldwide
The United Nations has announced a number of ambitious emissions reduction targets as part of its Sports for Climate Action Framework.
The goals include reaching net zero by 2040 and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030.
Organizations such as the International Olympic Committee, FIFA, Athletics Kenya, BBC Sport, the Premier League, Formula E and Munster Rugby have signed up for the new targets.
Moreover, signatories will submit plans on how to implement these targets as well as report on overall progress each year.
“Four years since we launched the Sports for Climate Action Framework, more than 280 sports organizations have committed to the overarching objectives of aligning sport with the goals of the Paris Agreement,” U.N. Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said Wednesday.
Nov 02, 3:59 pm
‘America showed up,’ Biden says of time at summit
Biden said the U.S. was able to make “real progress” at COP26 on methane reduction and reforestation strategies, including convincing countries on “the sideline” to commit to ambitious goals in those arenas as well.
Biden criticized China, the world’s biggest emitter, and Russia for failing to show up in Glasgow.
“The rest of the world is going to look to China and say…are they providing?” Biden said. “And they’ve lost the ability to influence people around the world and all the people here at COP.”
When asked by a reporter how he would respond to “skeptical” and “angry” protesters at the conference, Biden said, “I think anyone who cares about the environment should be worried.”
“There’s a reason for people to be worried,” he said. “I’m worried.”
Biden continued, “But I’m optimistic….what I feel is that the populations of each of our countries have a different perspective that they did at COP25.”
Biden added that people are starting to recognize the disasters that have been exacerbated by climate change, such as deadly flooding from hurricanes and wildfires burning in the western U.S., which has been experiencing a megadrought.
“I think there’s a whole different attitude,” Biden said.
Nov 02, 3:44 pm
Biden, Prince Charles meet at summit
Although not a part of his official schedule, Biden met with Prince Charles at COP26, a senior administration official said.
Biden spoke on the importance of collaboration between the two nations.
“They underlined the need for ambitious commitments and concrete actions among partners worldwide and discussed Prince Charles’ initiatives to engage the private sector on sustainability,” the official said.
Biden thanked the U.K. for hosting COP26 and commended the royal family and Charles’ dedication to environmental activism over the past 50 years.
Nov 02, 3:11 pm
‘No doubt’ progress has been made over past 2 days, Boris Johnson says
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the energy in Glasgow is different than six years ago when the Paris Agreement was signed.
At COP26, world leaders are starting to “tick the boxes” on how to reduce emissions, Johnson said, adding that he now has “no doubt” that progress has been made over the last two days.
“There was no road map, there was no very clear sense of how you could do it,” he said of the Paris Agreement. “I think what you’re starting to see here, in COP26 in Glasgow, is a sense of how actually you can deliver those cuts.”
But the world leaders must also guard against false hope, he added.Johnson said he understands that leaders from developing countries don’t have the same “cautious optimism,” admitting that “in the remaining days of this COP we have a lot more to do.”
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