Around 100 nations pledge to slash methane emissions on day 2 of COP26

By Eliza Mackintosh, Angela Dewan, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Melissa Mahtani and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 5:33 a.m. ET, November 4, 2021
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6:19 a.m. ET, November 2, 2021

Biden announces new plan to conserve global forests at COP26

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

US President Joe Biden speaks at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 2.
US President Joe Biden speaks at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 2. (Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden announced a new plan to conserve global forests on the second day of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, in the first major deal to break at the talks. 

“Today I’m announcing a new plan to conserve global forest, which will bring together a full range of US government tools, diplomatic, financial and policy to halt forests loss, restore critical carbon sinks, and improve land management,” Biden said. 

The President said: “Conserving our forest and other critical ecosystems is indispensable, an indispensable piece of keeping our climate goals within reach, as well as many other key priorities that we have together: ensuring clean water, maintaining biodiversity, supporting rural and indigenous communities and reducing the risk of the spread of disease."

“Forests have the potential to reduce, reduce carbon globally by more than one third. By more than one third. So we need to approach this issue with the same seriousness of purpose as decarbonizing our economies. That's what we're doing in the United States," Biden said.

5:36 a.m. ET, November 2, 2021

The key takeaways from the first day of COP26

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová in Glasgow

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 1.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 1. (Alastair Grant/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

Here is what happened during the first full day of the UN's COP26 climate summit:

A deal on forests:

More than 100 world leaders representing over 85% of the planet's forests committed to ending and reversing deforestation and land degradation by 2030, in an agreement that will be officially announced Tuesday, a British government statement says.
It's the first substantial deal announced at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow after a gloomy start. Among the nations taking part are Canada, Russia, Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all of which have significant tracts of forest. The US and China will also be party to the agreement.

Biden's apology:

President Joe Biden apologized to his fellow world leaders that the United States withdrew from the Paris Agreement under the Trump administration.
"I guess I shouldn't apologize, but I do apologize for the fact that the United States — the last administration — pulled out of the Paris Accords and put us sort of behind the 8 ball," Biden said in Glasgow.
Biden reentered the agreement just hours after he was sworn into office in January.

The UK wheels out the big names:

The UK government, which is hosting the UN climate summit in Glasgow, has tried its best to press it upon world leaders that now is the time to act on climate
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his fellow heads of governments that they can be just like James Bond, the famous (albeit fictional) 007 agent and save the world from a ticking (climate) bomb.
Royalty — both real and of the TV variety — was also in attendance, with Prince Charles urging leaders to work together, and the celebrated naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough telling them future generations would judge them by their actions during this conference.
Later in the day, Queen Elizabeth II welcomed world leaders in a video address played during a reception.

India makes net-zero promise:

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made headlines on Monday by announcing a net-zero emissions target, pledging India will become carbon neutral by 2070.
While it was a major announcement, as India had not yet put a date on its net-zero ambition, the 2070 target is a decade later than China's, and two decades after the world as a whole needs to achieve net-zero emissions in order to avoid temperatures from rising beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times. But experts say that because of India's economic development and energy mix, the target date should not be compared to those of the US or Europe.

Small nations' disappointment:

Delegates from smaller nations have expressed their disappointment with the action (or rather, lack of action) by the world's richest nations.

Covid-19 measures hampering the negotiations:

All attendees have been asked to wear masks and take daily coronavirus tests. And while the COP26 venue is huge (approximately 1 kilometer from one end to the other), the sheer number of people on site makes Covid-19 social distancing difficult.
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the body that is in charge of the negotiations, has admitted the pandemic is causing issues. For example, due to social distancing, the largest room reserved for negotiations can only hold 144 seats -- even though there are 193 parties to be represented at the conference.

Read more about the takeaways here:

5:00 a.m. ET, November 2, 2021

More than 100 world leaders will agree to end deforestation by 2030 at COP26

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová in Glasgow

More than 100 world leaders representing over 85% of the planet's forests will commit on Tuesday to ending and reversing deforestation and land degradation by 2030, a British government statement says, in what would be the first substantial deal announced at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow.

Among the nations taking part are Canada, Russia, Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all of which have significant tracts of forest. Brazil in particular has come under criticism for allowing an increase in the deforestation of the Amazon in recent years. The US and China will also be party to the agreement.

The deal is consequential to the climate as forests, when they are logged or degrade, emit carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, accounting for around 11% of the world's total CO2 emissions.

The leaders will make the announcement during a COP26 session about forests and commit £8.75 billion ($12 billion) of public funds to protection and restoration, alongside £5.3 billion ($7.2 billion) of private investment. CEOs from more than dozens of financial institutions, including Aviva, Schroders and Axa, are also committing to ending investment in activities that lead to deforestation.

The agreement will likely provide a morale boost at COP26, which got off to shaky start after the G20 leaders' summit in Rome over the weekend failed to result in an agreement on firm new climate commitments, particularly on when to end the use of coal.

It is also a breakthrough after years of negotiations on how to protect forests. 

Read more on the deal here:

5:11 a.m. ET, November 2, 2021

Here's what's happening in Glasgow today

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová in Glasgow

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks to reporters at Tokyo's Haneda Airport on November 2, before traveling to the UK to attend COP26.
Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks to reporters at Tokyo's Haneda Airport on November 2, before traveling to the UK to attend COP26. (Jiji Press/AFP/Getty Images)

The world leaders summit at the COP26 conference in Glasgow continues on Tuesday, with the Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari among those scheduled to speak. 

But while the world leaders are speaking on the stage, the real negotiations are under way in meeting rooms down the corridor where representatives of the 193 signatories of the Paris Agreement are trying to find a consensus on how the deal should be enforced. 

Here are some of the items they are trying to achieve:

  • An agreement on more aggressive emission reductions over this decade
  • Putting an end date on the use of coal
  • Providing $100 billion in annual climate financing
  • Making all new car sales zero emissions within 14-19 years
  • Ending and reversing deforestation by the end of the decade
  • Reducing emissions from methane

Climate negotiations are always tricky, which is why the delegates have two whole weeks to find solutions.

Even then, it is far from certain they will be able to reach an agreement. Previous COP conferences in Katowice in 2018 and Madrid in 2019 failed to reach a deal on some of the thorniest issues.

5:12 a.m. ET, November 2, 2021

Biden apologized to world leaders for Trump's exit from Paris accords

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

US President Joe Biden attends the opening session of COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 1.
US President Joe Biden attends the opening session of COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 1. (Erin Schaff/Pool/The New York Times/AP)

President Biden apologized to other world leaders on Monday for the Trump administration's decision to exit the Paris climate agreement, saying during the United Nations' climate summit that the US' exit put the country behind in its climate goals.

"I guess I shouldn't apologize, but I do apologize for the fact that the United States -- the last administration pulled out of the Paris accord. It put us sort of behind the eight ball a little bit," the President said during a session on "action and solidarity" at the summit in Glasgow.

The President announced the US would rejoin the Paris accords hours after he was sworn into office in January.

During the session, Biden also said "the American people, four or five years ago, weren't at all sure about climate change, whether it was real."

"Well, they have, as they say in southern parts of my state, 'seen the lord.' They've seen what's happened back home. The incredible changes that are taking place. And they're now finally ... seeing the sense of urgency that you all are," Biden continued.

In his earlier opening remarks at the summit, Biden issued a plea and a warning to global leaders to take forceful action on climate change, even as his own climate ambitions hang in the balance.

"Right now, we're still falling short. There's no time to hang back, sit on the fence or argue amongst ourselves," Biden said. "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."

5:20 a.m. ET, November 2, 2021

What does "net zero" mean? This handy climate change glossary has you covered

From CNN's Laura Smith-Spark

There's a lot of technical lingo to get a grasp of if you're following COP26.

One buzzword you may have heard a lot: Net zero.

Net zero emissions can be achieved by removing as much greenhouse gas from the atmosphere as what's emitted, so the net amount added is zero.

To do this, countries and companies will need to rely on natural methods — like planting trees or restoring grasslands — to soak up carbon dioxide (CO2), the most abundant greenhouse gas we emit, or use technology to "capture" the gas and store it away where it won't escape into the atmosphere.

Dozens of countries have already pledged to achieve net zero by mid-century and there is huge pressure on countries that haven't yet to do so at COP26.

Here are other terms to know to keep up with the talks, understand what's at stake and, most importantly, sound smart around the dinner table:

5:29 a.m. ET, November 2, 2021

Biden wants America to lead the world against the climate crisis. These are his four main goals at COP26

From CNN's Kevin Liptak and Phil Mattingly in Edinburgh

Journalists listen to US President Joe Biden speak at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 1.
Journalists listen to US President Joe Biden speak at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 1. (Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden is entering the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, with a message of urgency and what he hopes is a convincing-enough plan to make good on his promise to cut US greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. He arrived Monday morning with a message to leaders that his word is good when it comes to following through on his climate commitments.

Biden's challenge this week is convincing fellow leaders that the United States will remain committed to the cause, and to cajole them to do more themselves.

"We think this is the decisive decade, the decade of decision, the decade of action. And it is critical that countries lay out long term plans," said John Kerry, the US envoy for climate change, on the eve of the summit.

Kerry has laid out four main goals for the United States at the Scotland talks:

  1. Raising global ambition on containing a rise in temperatures
  2. Getting countries to commit to taking action this decade
  3. Driving ahead on finance and adaptation efforts to vulnerable communities
  4. Completing negotiations on implementation guidelines for the Paris Climate accord

Biden will be carrying with him significant private sector commitments designed to bolster his pitch, as well as the willingness to aid smaller countries with the financing and technical expertise they may lack.

Biden had once hoped to arrive in Glasgow having passed a signature spending package containing the biggest-ever US investment in combatting climate change, a signal to the world he was serious about reducing greenhouse gasses.

He fell short of that, announcing only a framework plan in the hours before he departed for Europe last week. The bills have yet to be voted upon as Democrats continue haggling over the timing.

It's just the latest example global players can point to as reason for skepticism after more than three decades of watching the US leadership pendulum swing back and forth on an increasingly urgent and dire issue.

Still, it appears likely the sweeping social legislation will pass eventually, perhaps as soon as this week. And even as the bill was stripped of major liberal priorities and shrank from $3.5 trillion to $1.75 trillion, it retained the originally imagined $555 billion in climate and clean energy provisions, the largest single legislative investment on climate in American history.

5:30 a.m. ET, November 2, 2021

Key things to know about COP26, the UN's climate change conference

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová

COP is short for the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change, which is an event that takes place annually, though it was postponed last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. World leaders do attend, but a lot of the discussions take place among ministers and other high-level officials working on climate issues. The 26 signifies that this is the group's 26th meeting.

The conferences are massive events with a lot of side meetings that attract people from the business sector, fossil fuel companies, climate activists and other groups with a stake in the climate crisis. Some of them are successful — the Paris Agreement was hammered out during COP21, for example — and some are painfully unproductive.

More than 190 countries signed onto the Paris Agreement after the COP21 meeting in 2015, to limit the increase in global temperatures to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, but preferably to 1.5 degrees.

Half a degree may not sound like a huge difference, but scientists say any additional warming past 1.5 degrees will trigger more intense and frequent climate extremes. For example, limiting warming to 1.5 degrees instead of 2 degrees could result in around 420 million fewer people being frequently exposed to extreme heatwaves, according to the UN.

Scientists see 2 degrees as a critical threshold where extreme weather would render some of the world's most densely populated areas into uninhabitable deserts or flood them with sea water.

Although the Paris Agreement was a landmark moment in the quest to address the climate crisis, it didn't include details on how the world would achieve its goal. The subsequent COPs have sought to make the plans attached to it more ambitious and to detail courses of action.

"On paper, the Paris Agreement was always designed as a cyclical process — 'see you in five years, with better plans and renewed efforts,'" said Lola Vallejo, the climate program director at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations. "So right now, we are at this deadline, pushed back by Covid."

Read more about COP26 here.