7 months ago

Brazil steps up its emissions commitment, and critics are wary

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil on Monday stepped up its commitment against greenhouse gas emissions, aiming to halve them by 2030 as compared to 2005 levels, while critics alleged the government is tinkering with data.

“We present today a new, more ambitious climate goal,” Environment Minister Joaquim Leite said at the U.N. Glasgow climate conference.

Brazil previously targeted 43% fewer emissions by 2030 versus 25 years earlier.

The announcement in Glasgow represents another effort by the Brazilian government to project itself as a responsible environmental steward in the wake of surging deforestation and fires in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest and Pantanal wetlands in recent years. But critics cautioned that its shift should be viewed with skepticism.

Experts have accused Brazil of previously adjusting its emissions targets in a way that would allow it to release more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. The government significantly increased the estimate for its baseline, making its target easier to accomplish.

Rodrigo Agostinho, a federal lawmaker and member of the Brazilian delegation to Glasgow, told The Associated Press that “no one trusts Brazil anymore” — and that won’t change even with a more ambitious emissions target.

7 months ago

Biden apologizes for Trump administration pulling out of Paris Agreement

GLASGOW — President Joe Biden offered a public apology to a U.N. climate conference over his predecessor Donald Trump’s move to pull the U.S. from the Paris accord.

Biden was speaking in Glasgow, Scotland on Monday where world leaders were gathering to discuss implementing the agreement to contain global warming by mid-century.

He said: “I shouldn’t apologize, but I do apologize for the fact the United States, the last administration, pulled out of the Paris Accords and put us sort of behind the eight ball a little bit.”

Biden has frequently criticized the past administration’s approach to climate, but had not previously delivered a public apology to the world.

7 months ago

5 top issues for the climate summit

The COP26 talks were always bound to be tense, but the coronavirus pandemic, the ensuing economic crisis and the recent energy crunch have put even more pressure on the two-week meeting. Here are five key issues to watch.

1. Rich countries owe poor ones
The failure of rich countries to deliver on a promise first made in 2009 has caused deep anger and distrust among poor nations, with some threatening to block any agreement until the money is provided.

2. Carbon trading
Some unfinished business from the Paris climate summit in 2015 involves the rules for international carbon trading, which is seen as a key instrument to harness market forces in the fight against global warming.

3. Ensuring transparency, committing to new targets
Transparency is a key element of the talks, because the voluntary nature of the Paris accord means countries closely watch what how much progress others make before ratcheting up their targets another notch.

4. Methane
As a greenhouse gas, it’s about 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide but stays in the air for only about a decade.

5. The 45 percent pledge
A proposed pledge to reduce emissions by 45 percent by 2030 compared with 2010 levels is not so much a negotiating point as a goal established by the U.N. for the talks to be considered a success.

READ MORE: 4 key issues to watch as world leaders prepare for the Glasgow climate summit

7 months ago

Germany’s Angela Merkel urges countries to put price on carbon emissions

GLASGOW, Scotland — Germany’s outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel urged other countries to put a price on carbon emissions, which are the main cause of global warming.

Merkel — who chaired the first Conference of the Parties, or COP1, in 1995 — said the world needs a “comprehensive transformation” of way people live and work if it wants to curb climate change.

Speaking Monday at the ceremonial opening of this year’s U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Merkel said she wanted to make a “clear plea for the pricing of carbon emissions” to help promote the most efficient ways of reaching ‘net zero,’ a goal many countries are striving for by 2050.

7 months ago

World leaders failing to act dooms island nations, Barbados prime minister says

GLASGOW, Scotland — The prime minister of Barbados has told world leaders that failing to act urgently on climate change will be a “death sentence” for people in island nations like hers.

Mia Amor Mottley told leaders at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow that nations facing the biggest threat from global warming fear the gathering will not achieve its goals.

She said that “both ambition and, regrettably, some of the needed faces at Glasgow are not present.” The leaders of China, Russia and Turkey are among those who have not come to the summit.

Mottley told leaders they must “try harder,” saying vulnerable countries needed trillions of dollars, not the billions so far committed, to adapt to climate change and green their economies.

She said “simply put: When will leaders lead?”

7 months ago

Biden urges ‘decade of ambition and innovation’ to preserve future

President Joe Biden emphasized the quickly closing window of opportunity to address global warming — and the mounting costs of delaying that action — in his opening remarks at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, on Monday.

To implement policies that will limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C, the next 10 years will have to be a “decade of ambition and innovation to preserve our shared future,” he said.

WATCH: Biden speaks at COP26 climate summit in Glasgow

He also said that climate change’s impact on people’s livelihoods, particularly when it comes to increasing severe weather events like floods and droughts, is a “moral and economic imperative.”

“We can create an environment that raises the standard of living around the world… It’s in the self-interest of every single nation,” Biden said. “And this is a chance, in my view, to make a generational investment in our economic resilience and in our workers and our communities throughout the world.”

Biden touted his domestic Build Back Better plan, which he said would focus on investing in clean energy, dramatically reducing carbon emissions and creating “good-paying union jobs.” He announced that he’d be releasing the United States’ long-term strategy for combating climate change and achieving the goal of “net-zero emissions economy wide by 2050,” as well as a new plan to “implement the global goal of adaptation,” which includes America’s “first-ever contribution to the adaptation fund.”

The president acknowledged that larger, wealthier countries are disproportionately responsible for generating the emissions that have contributed to climate change, and that those nations are therefore obligated to support developing ones in their effort to grapple with the consequences of warming.

“[This is] the challenge of our collective lifetimes, the threat to human existence as we know it. And every day we delay, the cost of inaction increases,” Biden said. “So let this be the moment that we answer history’s call. Let this be the start of a decade of transformative action that preserves our planet and raises the quality of life for people everywhere.”

7 months ago

WATCH: Prince Charles urges radical transformation of economy

Great Britain’s Prince Charles spoke at the COP 26 United Nations Climate Change Conference on Monday, telling leaders that the “hopes of the world are upon you.”

“I know you all carry a heavy burden on your shoulders and you do not need me to tell you that the eyes and hopes of the world are upon you to act with all dispatch and decisively, because time has quite literally run out,” said Charles.

Read more here.

7 months ago

Kenyan activist says drought at home causing ‘climate-related starvation’

GLASGOW, Scotland — Kenyan climate activist Elizabeth Wathuti made an impassioned appeal to world leaders to “open your hearts” to those already feeling the effects of global warming.

Speaking Monday at the ceremonial opening of the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Wathuti said drought in her home country means many are going without food.

“As I sit comfortably here in this conference center in Glasgow, over 2 million of my fellow Kenyans are facing climate-related starvation,” she said. “In this past year, both of our rainy seasons have failed, and scientists say that it may be another 12 months before the waters return again.”

Wathuti urged leaders to take the necessary action to tackle climate change.

“The decisions you make here will help determine whether children will have food and water,” she said.

7 months ago

UN’s Guterres: We are ‘digging our own graves’ by using fossil fuels

GLASGOW, Scotland — The head of the United Nations warned leaders at the global climate summit in Glasgow that “we are digging our own graves” by burning fossil fuels and destroying the environment.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at the ceremonial opening of the two-week talks Monday that believing recent announcements by governments could turn the tide on climate change were “an illusion,” not least because there are serious questions many countries’ pledges.

“As we open this much anticipated climate conference, we are still heading for climate disaster,” he said.

Guterres urged major economic powers, including emerging nations like China, to “go the extra mile” because they contribute the lion’s share of global greenhouse gas emissions.

He also criticized a confusion over emissions reductions targets, and announced the creation of a new group of experts to propose “clear standards” for measuring commitments from businesses and other non-state actors.