Biden says the climate crisis is "the existential threat to human existence as we know it"
From CNN's Kate Sullivan
US President Joe Biden said the climate crisis is the “the existential threat to human existence as we know it," and urged world leaders gathered for the COP26 climate summit to come together to reduce emissions and save the planet.
“This is the challenge of our collective lifetimes. The existential threat to human existence as we know it. And every day we delay the cost of inaction increases,” Biden said at COP26.
The President continued: “So let this be the moment that we answer history's call here in Glasgow.”
“Let this be the start of a decade of transformative action that preserves our planet and raises the quality of life for people everywhere. We can do this. We just have to make choice to do it. So let's get to work,” Biden said.
11:11 a.m. ET, November 1, 2021
Biden: This summit "must be the kickoff of a decade of ambition and innovation"
From CNN's Aditi Sangal
"Glasgow must be the kickoff of a decade of ambition and innovation to preserve our shared future," US President Joe Biden said in his address at the COP26 summit.
He acknowledged that climate change is ravaging the world, "destroying people's lives and livelihoods" and costing countries trillions of dollars.
"Record heat and drought, fueling more widespread wildfires, in some places crop failures and others," he said. "What used to be once-in-a-century storms are happening every few years. In the past few months, the United States has experienced all of this."
"We're standing at an inflection point in world history," he urged leaders. "We have the ability to invest in ourselves and build an equitable clean energy future, and in the process create millions of good-paying jobs and opportunities around the world."
11:24 a.m. ET, November 1, 2021
Biden says world leaders "meet with the eyes of history upon us" at COP26
From CNN's Kate Sullivan
US President Joe Biden urged swift action to combat the climate crisis on the first day of the pivotal COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, telling fellow world leaders there remains only a “brief window” to take action to curb emissions.
“To state the obvious, we meet with the eyes of history upon us and a profound question before us. It’s simple: Will we act? Will we do what is necessary? Will we seize the enormous opportunity before us? Or will we condemn future generations to suffer,” Biden said.
The President continued: “This is the decade that will determine the answer. This decade.”
See President Biden’s opening remarks to COP26:
10:56 a.m. ET, November 1, 2021
Top US climate officials say more details are coming on the country's actions
From CNN's Ella Nilsen
US President Biden’s two top climate officials, US Special Climate Envoy John Kerry and White House Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy, highlighted US action at the start of COP26 on Monday.
Speaking to reporters, Kerry said officials would be unveiling more details on the US and EU’s Global Methane Pledge, an international pledge to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030, as well as private financing commitments from major banks in the US.
“Never before have we needed to put more measurement together and more transparency and more commitment than today,” Kerry said. "If you don't do enough between 2020 and 2030, you don't keep alive the prospect of net zero by 2050. That is what is guiding us here in Glasgow."
Kerry said his team has “been busy making the private sector our partners in this endeavor,” and said the six largest American banks are promising to invest a minimum of nearly $4.2 trillion towards climate projects over the next decade.
McCarthy emphasized Biden’s legislative climate agenda, which is a critical piece of overall US climate action. Last week, Biden’s White House announced a $1.75 trillion economic and climate framework, which contains $555 billion in proposed investments for climate and clean energy. Still, that framework has not yet been passed into law, as US lawmakers hammer out last-minute negotiations.
“This is what commitment looks like; this is the largest investment to combat climate in our history by tenfold,” McCarthy said. “And it’s going to let us reduce emissions well over a gigaton. We are talking about a big chunk of change here.”
McCarthy also mentioned a new long-term strategy report released by her and Kerry’s office today, which says the US needs to start removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, using agricultural tools sequestering carbon in soil, forests and grasslands, as well as engineering carbon removal.
10:16 a.m. ET, November 1, 2021
"You have the power to be better," Samoan climate activist tells COP26
From CNN's Niamh Kennedy and Vasco Cotovio
Samoan climate activist Brianna Fruean told world leaders at COP 26 that they have the power to make a difference as they meet in Glasgow.
“You all have the power here today to be better. To remember that in your meeting rooms and drafting documents are more than just black and white objects,” Fruean said. “To remember that in your words you wield the weapons that can save us or sell us out.”
Fruean went on to say she didn’t have to tell global leaders about the impact climate change was already having on communities across the globe, adding that the question was whether or not they were willing to do something about it.
“The real question is whether you have the political will to do the right thing, to wield the right words and to follow it up with long overdue action,” she said. “If you're looking for inspiration on this, look no further for the leadership of young Pacific people. We are not just victims to this crisis. We have been resilient beacons of hope.”
“Pacific youth have rallied behind the cry. We are not drowning. We are fighting. This is our warrior cry to the world. We are not drowning. We are fighting,” she added.
9:55 a.m. ET, November 1, 2021
This is what it's like inside the opening session of COP26
Analysis from CNN's Ivana Kottasova
The room is packed, with every seat taken. Because of the pandemic, each delegation has been allocated only two seats in the room — fewer than is the norm during climate conferences. Like all the other attendees, the global leaders have been told to wear masks unless seated, but many have kept their face coverings on even during the ceremony.
The presidents and prime ministers and other top-level representatives are sat in alphabetical order in rows of desks, (this puts US President Joe Biden toward the back of the room), watching the proceedings taking place on the podium on big screens. Observers and representatives from international groups have their seats right behind the leaders.
The whole point of this ceremonial opening session is clearly to motivate the world leaders to take climate action seriously. The mood of the program is balancing somewhere between an enthusiastic call for action and a shock therapy.
Videos of the damage already done to the Earth by climate change and messages from young indigenous people are intertwined with big wig speeches that are encouraging leaders to act. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tried to encourage leaders that they can take a meaningful action, suggesting that if they do, they’d be just like James Bond. There were a few chuckles in the audience.
Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, received somewhat lukewarm applause after urging leaders and the private sector to work together. The climate guru and British national treasure, Sir David Attenborough, played the emotional card, telling leaders that the people of the future will judge them based on what they can or cannot agree to here — a bigger applause followed his speech.
10:33 a.m. ET, November 1, 2021
Barbados prime minister: "We do not want that dreaded death sentence"
From CNN's Aditi Sangal
Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is essential for the existence of countries like Barbados, and reaching 2 degrees will be a "death sentence," Prime Minister Mia Mottley said in her address to the world leaders at the opening ceremony of the COP26 summit.
"1.5 is what we need to survive. 2 degrees, yes, is a death sentence for the people of Antigua and Barbua, for the people of Maldives, for the people of Dominica and Fiji, for the people of Kenya and Mozambique, and yes, for the people of Samoa and Barbados."
She pleaded the world leaders to take action.
"We do not want that dreaded death sentence. And we've come here today to say, 'try harder, try harder,'" she said.
See the Barbados prime minister’s urgent plea to leaders at COP26:
9:29 a.m. ET, November 1, 2021
"Our motivation should not be fear, but hope," says David Attenborough
From Angela Dewan in London
Celebrated naturalist David Attenborough told leaders at the COP26 climate summit that they had the power to change the course of human history over the next two weeks, and he urged them to protect the conditions of the Earth that have allowed humans to thrive for tens of thousands of years.
“We are already in trouble,” he said. “The stability we all depend on is breaking."
He warned against short-sightedness, asking leaders how they might explain to a child that "the smartest species" on the planet failed to see the bigger picture "in pursuit of short-term goals."
He added that the answer to the climate crisis needed to be equitable, saying that "those who have done the least to cause this problem are being the hardest hit."
He said that the conference has the chance "to rewrite our story to turn this tragedy into a triumph."
"We are all the greatest problem solvers to have ever existed on Earth," he said. "Our motivation should not be fear but hope."
9:31 a.m. ET, November 1, 2021
City known as "Venice of Africa" impacted by climate change
From CNN's Fred Pleitgen in Saint-Louis
The grim projections that are being discussed at COP26 are already a reality in Saint-Louis, a coastal city in Senegal that is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, known as the "Venice of Africa."
CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports on how rising sea levels have decimated the fishing community on the Atlantic Ocean, where some people are still living in buildings destroyed by storm surges.
"We don't have anywhere to go ... where we are living is not safe. We are powerless," one resident said.
A combination of the climate crisis, overfishing and lack of jobs has caused many young people to flee the city, attempting a dangerous sea crossing to Spain's Canary Islands.