World leaders meet for 'last best chance' COP26 climate talks in Glasgow

By Eliza Mackintosh, Angela Dewan, Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 5:24 p.m. ET, November 1, 2021
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4:10 p.m. ET, November 1, 2021

Queen recalls late Prince Philip's commitment to environmental issues in COP26 message

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

Attendees watch a video message from Britain's Queen Elizabeth II during an evening reception to mark the opening day of COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 1.
Attendees watch a video message from Britain's Queen Elizabeth II during an evening reception to mark the opening day of COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 1. (Alberto Pezzali/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

Queen Elizabeth welcomed world leaders to the COP26 summit with a video message at a reception on Monday. 

Glasgow, the Queen said, was “once a heartland of the industrial revolution, but now a place to address climate change.” 

Recalling her late husband the Duke of Edinburgh’s commitment to the “impact of the environment on human progress,” which was a “subject close to the heart of my dear late husband.” Philip, the Queen said, told an academic gathering in 1969, “If the world pollution situation is not critical at the moment, it is as certain as anything can be, that the situation will become increasingly intolerable within a very short time … If we fail to cope with this challenge, all the other problems will pale into insignificance.”

The Queen paid tribute to the work of Philip which she said “Iives on through the work of our eldest son Charles and his eldest son William. I could not be more proud of them.”

“Indeed, I have drawn great comfort and inspiration from the relentless enthusiasm of people of all ages – especially the young – in calling for everyone to play their part.
In the coming days, the world has the chance to join in the shared objective of creating a safer, stabler future for our people and for the planet on which we depend.
None of us underestimates the challenges ahead: but history has shown that when nations come together in common cause, there is always room for hope. Working side by side, we have the ability to solve the most insurmountable problems and to triumph over the greatest of adversities.
For more than seventy years, I have been lucky to meet and to know many of the world’s great leaders. And I have perhaps come to understand a little about what made them special.
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 tomorrow — that is statesmanship.
I, for one, hope that this conference will be one of those rare occasions where everyone will have the chance to rise above the politics of the moment, and achieve true statesmanship.
It is the hope of many that the legacy of this summit – written in history books yet to be printed – will describe you as the leaders who did not pass up the opportunity; and that you answered the call of those future generations. That you left this conference as a community of nations with a determination, a desire, and a plan, to address the impact of climate change; and to recognise that the time for words has now moved to the time for action.
Of course, the benefits of such actions will not be there to enjoy for all of us here today: we none of us will live forever. But we are doing this not for ourselves but for our children and our children’s children, and those who will follow in their footsteps.
And so, I wish you every good fortune in this significant endeavour,” the Queen concluded.

Buckingham Palace announced last week that the Queen would not attend the summit person as planned and would follow medical advice to rest. 

3:19 p.m. ET, November 1, 2021

China will “rein in” high-emission projects but stops short of firm pledges

From CNN's Amy Cassidy and Angela Dewan

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is not attending COP26 in-person, said in a written address to the summit that the country will “rein in the irrational development of energy-intensive and high-emission projects," but fell short of making any firm climate pledges.

According to a translation published by state-run Xinhua news agency, Xi said: "We will foster a green, low-carbon and circular economic system at a faster pace, press ahead with industrial structure adjustment, and rein in the irrational development of energy-intensive and high-emission projects."  

China — currently the world’s largest carbon emitter — will “roll out specific implementation plans for key areas,” such as energy, industry transport, coal, electricity, iron and steel, and cement, according to Xinhua, “as well as supporting measures in terms of science and technology, carbon sink, fiscal and taxation, and financial incentives.”

China last week announced it plans to cut its reliance on fossil fuels to below 20% by 2060. It has also said its carbon emissions will peak before 2030. 

In September Xi promised that China will not build any new coal-fired power projects abroad, however, the following month he ordered his country to "produce as much coal as possible" amid an ongoing energy crunch.

2:43 p.m. ET, November 1, 2021

Brazil says it aims to end all illegal deforestation by 2028

From CNN's Camilo Rocha and Hira Humayun

The Brazilian delegation to COP26 presented a plan that included a goal to end all illegal deforestation by 2028.

In the presentation, which followed a speech by Brazil’s Environment Minister Joaquim Leite, the Brazilian delegation announced Brazil’s action plan to reduce illegal deforestation starting in 2022 by 15% every year until 2024 – and then 40% in 2025 and 2026 and 50% in 2027, with a goal to end all illegal deforestation by 2028.

US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry tweeted:

Marcelo Freire, Brazil’s Joint Secretary for Climate International Relations at the Ministry of Environment, presented Brazil’s plan which included the country’s goal to restore and reforest 18 million hectares of forests, for multiple uses, by 2030. The initial goal, according to the delegation, was to recover 12 million hectares of forest by 2030 but the government says it already reached 16 million hectares in 2020.

Regarding the energy sector, the action plan included increasing the use of biofuels like ethanol and increasing the use of renewable energy, and reducing emissions. 

“We are going to continue increasing industrial standards and using technologies that are less intensive in emissions,” Freire said

The plan also included incentivizing and advancing the manufacture of hybrid and electric vehicles, implementing specific programs to reduce emissions in the agriculture sector, investment in new railroad networks to transport freight and reduce road transport to reduce emissionsAccording to the plan, one railway could bring a roughly 77% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere compared to road freight transportation. The plan also aims to create new standards for industrial processes and the facilitation of green businesses. 

Hours before the presentation of Brazil’s plan, Human Rights Watch said Brazil’s climate commitments and policies “fall far short” of what is needed to address the crisis in the Amazon, the group said in a statement. The Brazilian delegation arrived in Glasgow with a national action plan “less ambitious than its previous one” and that the government lacked a credible plan to save the Amazon rainforest, the HRW statement said.

“The Bolsonaro government now wants the world to think it is committed to saving the rainforest,” said Maria Laura Canineu, Brazil director at Human Rights Watch. “But this commitment cannot be taken seriously given its disastrous record and failure to present credible plans for making urgently needed progress in fighting deforestation.”

Some background: Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon soared since Bolsonaro took office in January 2019 and surged to a 12-year high in the year between August 2019 and July 2020, according to the country’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE). According to INPE, during that time, more than 6,800 square miles were destroyed – the highest levels of destruction since 2008.

INPE recorded 985 square kilometers — or about 380 square miles — of deforestation in the Amazon in September 2021. It is the second highest figure ever recorded by the institute for the month of September, with the worst being 1,454 square kilometers (or 561 square miles) in 2019. 

3:21 p.m. ET, November 1, 2021

Manchin injects more uncertainty in timeline for Biden's climate agenda

From CNN's Manu Raju, Clare Foran and Maegan Vazquez

Senator Joe Manchin speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on November 1.
Senator Joe Manchin speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on November 1. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

As President Joe Biden meets with other world leaders in Glasgow, his climate agenda is on the line in Washington, and moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia just cast doubt that the measures would be voted on any time soon.

Democrats' $1.75 trillion economic framework contains $555 billion worth of climate policy – a historic US investment in the climate crisis. Biden said Sunday he believed the package could pass this week, as his climate envoy John Kerry and other US delegates press nations to increase their climate ambitions.

But Manchin said Monday he won't support the package until there is "greater clarity" about the impact it will have on the country's national debt and the economy.

"Simply put, I will not support a bill that is this consequential without thoroughly understanding the impact that it will have on our national debt, our economy and most importantly all of our American people," Manchin said at a news conference Monday afternoon. 

Manchin has been coy about his views of this proposal, despite months of efforts by Biden and his team to court the senator to back a pared back plan. But Manchin has been concerned about a number of proposals, including an expansion of Medicare. The package's cornerstone climate measure — a clean electricity program — was stripped from the bill earlier this month after objections from Manchin, who represents a coal-dependent state.

Meanwhile in Glasgow, Biden warned that "every day we delay, the cost of inaction increases."

"Right now, we're still falling short. There's no time to hang back, sit on the fence or argue amongst ourselves," Biden said Monday. "This is the challenge of our collective lifetime — the existential threat to human existence as we know it. And every day we delay, the cost of inaction increases. So let this be the moment that we answer history's call here in Glasgow."
2:27 p.m. ET, November 1, 2021

Israeli prime minister wants to make his country a "climate innovation nation"

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy 

Alastair Grant/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Alastair Grant/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Israel may be a "small country" but its "impact on climate change can be mighty," Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said during his opening remarks at the COP26 summit. 

He heralded the country's commitment to phasing out greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and coal use by 2025, but said that greater focus needs to be placed on innovation. Israel's ambition is to become a "climate innovation nation" which places emphasis on new technologies and inventions, he said. 

"We need to contribute Israel's most valuable source of energy, the energy and brainpower of our people you see, this is what fuels our innovation and ingenuity."

Bennett pointed to Israel's landmark progress in water innovation as an example. Despite the country being "60% desert,” it has "managed to become the world's number one country in the water innovation.”

Bennett made a call to entrepreneurs around the globe, advising them to "launch startups" that solve "global threats" rather than another "hyped-up internet app.”

2:05 p.m. ET, November 1, 2021

Australia promises to surpass Paris agreement commitment

From CNN's Duarte Mendoca

Alastair Grant/Pool/Getty Images
Alastair Grant/Pool/Getty Images

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison claimed on Monday that Australia was on track to lower the country’s emissions by 35% until 2030, which would exceed the country’s Paris agreement commitment. 

Even if Australia achieved the 35% reduction, it would be well below the pledges of some of its closest allies, including the US, UK and European Union. Australia has arguably the weakest climate pledge of all the G20's developed nations.

Morrison reflected on the recent past and pointed out that there was reason for optimism given how the world was “staring into the abyss” 18 months ago. “The vaccines we would need had not only not been invented, but there had never been a vaccine for Coronavirus. But here we are. Billions vaccinated and the world is reclaiming what COVID has taken from us,” Morrison said. 

“The challenge of combating climate change will be met the same way,” Morrison added. 

The Australian prime minister went on to stress that the fight in this climate crisis would be taken up mostly by those who were not present in the room.

“It will be our scientists, our technologists, our engineers, our entrepreneurs, our industrialists and our financiers that will actually chart the path to net zero and it is up to us, as leaders of governments to back them in,” Morrison said. 

“Technology will have the answers to a decarbonized economy, particularly over time and achieve it in a way that does not deny our citizens, especially in developing economies, their livelihoods, or the opportunity for a better quality of life," Morrison added. 

To continue investing in solutions to stop climate change, the Australian PM promised that Australia would invest over “$20 billion over the next decade to drive the transition, leveraging private sector investment to reach $80 billion in total."

“The scene is set global momentum to tackle climate change is building countries with net zero commitments cover over 80% of the world GDP,” Morrison added. 

1:55 p.m. ET, November 1, 2021

India Prime Minister pledges net-zero emissions by 2070

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Alastair Grant/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Alastair Grant/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi set a five-point climate agenda during his address at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland. Most notably, he pledged India will achieve net zero emissions by 2070.

With this, all of the world's top 10 coal-power countries have now committed to net-zero, according to climate think tank Ember.

However, India's goal of 2070 target is decades later than other polluter economies, and even later than China, which has targeted 2060.

"I’m happy to report that a developing country like India, which is working to lift millions out of poverty and working on their ease of living, accounts for 17% of the world’s population but only 5% of the world’s carbon emissions," Modi said Monday. "But it has not left any stone unturned in fulfilling its promise, and the whole world agrees that India is the only big economy that has delivered on the Paris Agreement in letter and spirit."

He also touted the Indian railway network for setting a goal to be net-zero by 2030, reducing emissions by 40 million tonnes by 2030.

Here are the promises Modi made in his five-point climate agenda:

  • India's non-fossil energy capacity to reach 500 GW by 2030.
  • Renewable energy will fulfill 50% of India's energy requirements by 2030.
  • Its total projected carbon emissions will reduce by one billion tonnes by 2030.
  • India will also reduce the carbon intensity of its economy to less than 45% by 2030.
  • India will achieve the target of net zero emissions by 2070.

Modi also called on developed nations to contribute $1 trillion in climate financing to help developing countries transition to green energy and adapt to the climate crisis. He said he believes those contributions should be tracked.

"Climate finance ambitions cannot remain at the same levels as they were during the Paris Climate Agreement. Now that India has made a new commitment, the need for climate finance and low-cost technology transfer has become even more important," he said.

1:28 p.m. ET, November 1, 2021

4 young activists sailed into COP26

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Four young activists from around the world are arriving at COP26 on Monday aboard Greenpeace’s "Rainbow Warrior."

It was a tight squeeze under the Erskine Bridge, which spans the River Clyde northwest of Glasgow.

The activists arriving via the boat are:

  • Jakapita Faith Kandanga, 24, from Namibia
  • Edwin Namakanga, 27, from Uganda
  • Maria Reyes, 19, from Mexico
  • Farzana Faruk Jhumu, 22, from Bangladesh

The ship was originally warned it would not be allowed to sail down the Clyde toward the restricted zone around the conference, Greenpeace said, but was granted passage Monday morning.

"World leaders attending the talks could learn a lot from this cooperation," the four activists said in a joint statement. "We have been ignored long enough, and now with a safe passage to Glasgow our voices must be heard at COP26."

1:12 p.m. ET, November 1, 2021

Canadian prime minister commits to cap on emissions from its oil and gas industry

From CNN’s Duarte Mendonça

Phil Noble/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Phil Noble/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged world leaders to do “more and faster” and formally committed to a cap on emissions produced by Canada's large oil and gas sector.

“We'll cap oil and gas sector emissions today and ensure they decrease tomorrow at a pace and scale needed to reach net zero by 2050,” Trudeau said in his opening remarks at the COP 26 summit.  

“That's no small task for a major oil and gas producing country. It's a big step that’s absolutely necessary.”  The Canadian Prime Minister explained that this will be achieved by Canada’s doubling of its climate financing, “including up to a billion dollars for the transition away from coal and to help deal with the consequences of climate change.”

Trudeau appealed to the urgency of the commitment to the Paris agreement, saying that the conference in Glasgow must deliver on those promises. “The threat of climate change knows no borders and that is why you must work together to achieve tangible results,” he said. He urged for the same global cooperation as seen during the Covid-19 pandemic. “We must act with the same urgency against the climate crisis and biodiversity loss,” Trudeau said.

“To the world's most vulnerable who need us to act, to indigenous people who can show us the way, to young people marching in our streets in cities around the world: We hear you. It's true. Your leaders need to do better.”