Day 2 of G20 summit as COP26 opens

By Kara Fox, Fernando Alfonso III, Maureen Chowdhury and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 2035 GMT (0435 HKT) October 31, 2021
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9:10 a.m. ET, October 31, 2021

Biden hails easing of steel and aluminum tariffs

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

President Biden on Sunday hailed an end to a long-festering trade war with the European Union over steel and aluminum tariffs issued by his predecessor, President Trump.

Speaking alongside the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Rome, Biden said it was a “testament to the power of our strong partnership and to what the US can accomplish by working together with our friends.”

Trump enacted the tariffs in 2018, claiming that foreign imports harmed national security. Europe responded with tariffs of its own on American products, including Kentucky bourbon and Harley Davidson motorcycles.

On Saturday, US officials said the tariffs would be eased, though not removed entirely. Some quantities of European aluminum and steel will now be allowed to enter the US tariff-free.

In his remarks, Biden said going forward, both the US and Europe would address ways to reduce the carbon intensity of steel manufacturing.

He said the new agreement “demonstrates how by harnessing our diplomatic and economic power, we can reject the false idea that we can't grow our economy and support American workers while tackling the climate crisis.”

“These arrangements will one lift up US aluminum and steel, which is among the greatest steel in the world — that is somewhat prejudice on my behalf — incentivize emission reductions in one of the most carbon intensive sectors of the global economy; restrict access to our markets for dirty steel from countries like China, and counter countries that dumped steel in our markets, hammering our workers,” Biden said.

“As we move forward we’re going to continue together to update the rules of the road and the 21st century economy and prove to the world that democracies — democracies — are taking on hard problems and delivering sound solutions,” Biden added.

8:58 a.m. ET, October 31, 2021

G20 nations need to "accelerate phasing out of coal power," Italian prime minister says

From CNN's Sharon Braithwaite in London

Antonio Masiello/Getty Images
Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

G20 nations need to agree to accelerate the phasing out of coal power and invest more in renewable energy, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi told G20 leaders on Sunday.

"We need to set long-term goals that are consistent with the objectives of the Paris Agreement and make short-term changes to achieve them," Draghi said. "We must accelerate the phasing out of coal and invest more in renewable energy. We also need to make sure that we use available resources wisely, which means that we should become able to adapt our technologies and also our lifestyles to this new world."

Draghi went on to say that G20 nations "must help countries around the world deal with and adapt to the effects of climate change."


8:59 a.m. ET, October 31, 2021

Pope Francis hopes world leaders listen to "the cry of the Earth"

From CNN’s Sharon Braithwaite

Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images
Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Francis urged world leaders on Sunday, ahead of COP26, to listen to the “cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor,” as they suffer the consequences of a devastating climate change. 

“The United Nations summit on climate change, COP26, begins today in Glasgow, Scotland. Let us pray that the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor will be heard," the Pope said during his weekly Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican city. 

The Pope then led a prayer for the success of COP26 in bringing “real hope to future generations."

Pope Francis will not be attending the climate summit in Glasgow.

9:03 a.m. ET, October 31, 2021

France and UK try to ease tensions over fishing row

From CNN’s Xiaofei Xu in Paris

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to French President Emmanuel Macron during a visit to the Trevi fountain on October 31, 2021 in Rome, Italy.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to French President Emmanuel Macron during a visit to the Trevi fountain on October 31, 2021 in Rome, Italy. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

France and the United Kingdom have “agreed to hold discussions in the coming hours and days on fishing licenses,” French President Emmanuel Macron’s office said Sunday.

Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a working meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome.

The French president said he “wanted to continue the dialogue on the basis of exigency, seriousness and respect,” when it came to “the commitments made jointly by the United Kingdom and the European Union in the Brexit agreement,” the Elysee Palace said in a statement. 

Here's some background: French Prime Minister Jean Castex on Thursday sent a private letter to European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen calling on the EU to assert its rights in the dispute or set a dangerous precedent for future post-Brexit negotiations.

In the letter obtained by CNN Friday, Castex complains that despite "significant effort" by the European fishing sector, the UK and Channel Islands have only issued 216 fishing licenses to French vessels since the post-Brexit trade deal was worked out.

A number he calls "limited" and far short of the amount he believes France is owed under the trade agreement where licenses would be given to vessels that could show they had fished in each other's waters for years.

France has asked the European Union to show a "total determination" to resolve an ongoing dispute with the United Kingdom over post-Brexit fishing rights in coastal waters.

On Saturday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson raised concerns about the French government's rhetoric, saying in a statement that the UK "has granted 98% of licence applications from EU vessels to fish in the UK’s waters and is happy to consider any further evidence for the remaining 2%."

Johnson told von der Leyen on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome on Saturday that French threats were “completely unjustified” and “did not appear to be compatible with the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement or wider international law."

8:52 a.m. ET, October 31, 2021

UK names an Antarctic glacier "Glasgow Glacier" to highlight the climate emergency

From CNN’s Duarte Mendonca in London

The United Kingdom announced it would be naming an “enormous body of Ice in Antarctica” as the “Glasgow Glacier" to highlight the importance of COP26, held in the Scottish city.

The name was suggested by a team of scientists from the University of Leeds who had put forward climate-themed names with the support of the UK government, a Downing Street statement said Sunday.

“By naming this glittering giant of nature after the city where next week humankind will gather to fight for the future of the planet, we have a stark reminder of what we are working to preserve," UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in the statement.

The statement highlighted the work of researcher Heather Selley, who is part of the team of scientists from the University of Leeds. Selley said that 14 glaciers in the Getz Basin of West Antarctica have “sped up by an average of 25% between 1994 and 2018 due to climate change."

Her study, which was published in February, found that 315 gigatonnes of ice have been lost from the region in the last 25 years, "adding the equivalent of 126 million Olympic-sized swimming pools of water to the world’s oceans," the statement said. 

Some context: As research continues around the glaciers and the impact of global warming, further unnamed glaciers have been requested to be named after locations that have hosted climate conferences, reports or treaties, which will then be added to maps, charts and future publications.

“Naming the glaciers after the locations of major climate treaties, conferences and reports is a great way to celebrate the international collaboration on climate change science and policy over the last 42 years," Selley said.

"We wanted to permanently mark the outstanding effort the scientific community has put into measuring the present-day impact of climate change and its predicted future evolution," she added.

9:06 a.m. ET, October 31, 2021

France pledges $7 billion per year to help underdeveloped countries achieve ecological transitions

From CNN’s Xiaofei Xu in Paris

Jacques Witt/AFP/Getty Images
Jacques Witt/AFP/Getty Images

France will devote $7 billion a year to help developing and underdeveloped countries achieve ecological transitions, French President Macron said Sunday as the delegates were gathering for the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

“I have a clear message: COP26 can succeed, it must succeed!” Macron said in a series of posts on Twitter. “The COP26 will succeed if the countries with the most resources mobilise 100 billion dollars to support the transition of the countries that have less.”

Earlier in the day: During his meeting with the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Macron told the British leader that France is ready to support the British presidency at the conference, as the two governments try to de-escalate their recent fishing disputes.

“The commitment of France and the United Kingdom to climate is indeed a factor of rapprochement between the two countries,” said an Élysée press release published after the meeting. 

9:08 a.m. ET, October 31, 2021

Leaders will need to agree on these points at COP26

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová

Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images
Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images

As G20 leaders struggle to pin down a collective declaration on climate in Rome, here's what needs to happen at the COP26 in Glasgow.

Alok Sharma, the president of COP26, has said he wants this year's conference to reach an agreement on a number of key targets, including:

  • Keeping the goal of "1.5 alive," a target that some fossil fuel-producing countries have resisted -- at least in terms of strengthening language around it in any agreement.
  • Putting an end date on the use of "unabated" coal, which leaves open the possibility to keep using some coal, as long as the majority of greenhouse gas emissions from the fossil fuel are captured, preventing them to enter the atmosphere. Some scientists and activists groups have said all coal should be consigned to history.
  • Providing $100 billion of annual climate financing, which wealthy nations agreed to, in order to help developing countries reduce fossil fuel emissions and adapt to the impacts of the crisis.
  • Making all new car sales zero emissions within 14-19 years.
  • Ending deforestation by the end of the decade, as forests play a crucial role in removing carbon from the atmosphere.
  • Reducing emissions from methane, a potent gas with more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide.

Some context: COP26 couldn’t come at a more crucial time.

This past year of deadly wildfires and floods in many parts of the world has left little doubt that climate change is here now, and is touching all corners of the Earth.

A state-of-the-science report published by the UN in August showed that the world is warming faster than scientists previously thought, and that slashing greenhouse gas emissions by at least half this decade is crucial to staving off the more catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis. An agreement on how to achieve this dramatic reduction is one of the key goals of the meeting.

8:53 a.m. ET, October 31, 2021

COP26 kicks off in Glasgow on an optimistic note

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová in Glasgow

President for COP26, Alok Sharma, speaks on stage during the opening ceremony of COP26 at SECC on October 31, in Glasgow, Scotland.
President for COP26, Alok Sharma, speaks on stage during the opening ceremony of COP26 at SECC on October 31, in Glasgow, Scotland. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

COP26 has officially started in Glasgow.

The opening ceremony began with a minute’s silence for victims of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The COP presidency was then ceremonially handed over from Carolina Schmidt, Chile’s Minister of the Environment and the COP25 president, to Alok Sharma, a British Member of Parliament and the President of COP26.

The presidency of COP rotates among the five regional groups, designated as Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Western Europe and Other.

The "Other" states group includes Australia, Canada, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the United States of America.

In his opening speech, Sharma struck an optimistic note, saying: “We know what we need to do. Because six years ago in Paris, we agreed our shared goal. We said we will protect people and nature from the effects of climate change."

"We can move the negotiations forward or we can move on increasing ambitions. So let's come together these two weeks and ensure that what Paris promised Glasgow delivers," Sharma said.

Schmidt used her outgoing speech to send a message to the G20 leaders, most of whom are in Rome at the G20 summit.

“The success of COP26 will be assessed in three areas: (emission cutting) ambitions, finance and rules … I would like to appeal to the leaders of G20, I urge you to fulfil your commitments,” Schmidt said.

8:53 a.m. ET, October 31, 2021

Prince Charles tells G20 leaders that COP26 is the "last chance saloon" on climate action

From CNN’s Kareem Khadder

Prince Charles, center, poses with Italian President Sergio Mattarella, second from right, and his daughter, Laura Mattarella, right, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, second from left, and his wife, Maria Serena Cappello as he attends a reception and dinner at The Quirinale Palace on October 30, 2021 in Rome, Italy.
Prince Charles, center, poses with Italian President Sergio Mattarella, second from right, and his daughter, Laura Mattarella, right, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, second from left, and his wife, Maria Serena Cappello as he attends a reception and dinner at The Quirinale Palace on October 30, 2021 in Rome, Italy. (Aaron Chown/Pool/Getty Images)

Britain’s Prince Charles told G20 leaders that they have "overwhelming responsibilities to 'generations unborn,'" on climate action, adding that the COP26 summit is the last chance to take action.

Quite literally it’s [COP26] the last chance saloon. We must now translate fine words into still finer actions,” Charles said.

The Prince of Wales was addressing G20 leaders as well as leaders of the financial services and private sector on Sunday on the invitation of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

Charles said that the world needs trillions of dollars to fight climate change but that can be made in partnership with financial institutions, government, and the private sector to reach the 1.5 degree climate target. 

“Following the recent COP15 biodiversity meeting in China and with this week COP26 in UK its only too clear that we will need trillion of dollars of investment every year to create the necessarily new infrastructure and meet the vital 1.5 degrees climate target that will save our forest, and farms and oceans and wildlife.

"No government has those sorts of sums which is why I spent so much time over the past 19 months trying to form a global alliance over the private sector as I longed believed that it holds the ultimate key to the solutions we seek," he said.

Prior to Charles' address, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi told leaders that they must accelerate efforts in moving economies to sustainable paths, saying that any delays in doing so will come with serious consequences.

Draghi said: "Either we act now, face the costs of the transition, and succeed in moving our economy onto a more sustainable path, or we delay acting, pay a much higher price later, and risk failing."

"The shift to clean energy is key to achieving the necessary reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. We can no longer postpone it. This transition requires a significant effort, and governments must be ready to support their citizens and businesses through it. But it also offers opportunities to boost growth, create jobs and reduce inequalities," Draghi added.

The Italian prime minister also said that "the fight against climate change is the defining challenge of our times."