COP26 news: What happened on Day 4?

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Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Our guide to COP26, including daily news updates from the Glasgow climate change summit. Keep scrolling down for information on who is attending COP26, why COP26 is so important, and what’s on the agenda.

COP26 NEWS: DAY 4

  • Over 40 countries have committed to end the use of coal (the biggest single contributor to climate change). In 2019, coal produced about 37% of the world’s electricity. Nations that use a lot of coal like Vietnam, Chile and Poland have all made the pledge. But some of the world’s biggest users like India, Australia, the US and China did not sign the agreement.

  • Boris Johnson’s decision to fly from Glasgow to London by private jet to attend a dinner has been met with accusations of “staggering hypocrisy”. The journey could also have been done in four and a half hours by train.

  • Protests continued across the city. Activists staged a sit-down protest outside of the SSE energy company building to protest against corporate “greenwashing”. Several arrests were made. A similar demonstration took place outside the JP Morgan offices.

  • Food menus at the summit come with a carbon count to indicate how much greenhouse gas has been emitted to make it. While the beetroot and broccoli salad comes in at an impressive 0.2kg, the Scottish beef burger has a whopping 3.9kg attached to it.

  • Some of the planet’s biggest sporting organisations including FIFA, the Premier League, Formula E and the International Olympic Committee have agreed to new targets to reach net zero by 2040, as well as reduce greenhouse gases by 50% by 2030.

  • During yesterday's finance day, Mark Carney, the former Bank of England governor, launched a plan to back the planet's move to net zero, assembling 450 organisations – including banks, pension funds and insurers, which control 40% of global assets (130 trillion dollars) in a plan to divert the money from “brown holdings” like oil and gas, to green activity, like renewables.

  • Today is energy day at the conference, meaning delegates will discuss the end of coal and transition to clean power.

Photo credit: Peter Summers
Photo credit: Peter Summers

COP26 NEWS: DAY 3

  • Joe Biden, Boris Johnson and other world leaders left Glasgow last night (many by private jet), as their two-day world leaders summit drew to a close. Now, their representatives will step up to the plate to negotiate the nitty gritty. In his parting message, Johnson said he felt “cautiously optimistic” about what had been achieved but warned against “false hope.”

  • Over 100 countries have pledged to cut methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030. But some of the world’s biggest methane emitters, including Russia, India and China, were not among them. In fact, China made no new climate targets, causing grave concern among activists, as the country is the world’s biggest carbon emitter.

  • China did, however, agree to increase the uptake of low-carbon technologies, along with over 40 other countries including India, the US and UK.

  • Wealthy nations have pledged £6.2bn to help South Africa end its reliance on coal. The country is one of the planet’s biggest emitters, so this has been described by president Cyril Ramaphosa as a "watershed moment."

  • Meanwhile, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta has pointed out that climate finance pledges made in Paris six years ago are yet to be fulfilled.

  • Elsewhere, 15-year-old Earthshot prize finalist Vinisha Umashankar made a powerful speech during a meeting to discuss clean technology. She told the group; “you are deciding whether or not we’ve [my generation] a chance to live in a habitable world.”

  • An Israeli minister was unable to access the conference because it was not wheelchair friendly. Boris Johnson has apologised. The British prime minister also came under fire after being photographed without his face mask on, while sitting next to 95-year-old Sir David Attenborough.

  • Today (Wednesday) is finance day at the summit and Rishi Sunak will outline a plan calling on big UK firms to set out climate change targets by 2023.

Photo credit: Christopher Furlong
Photo credit: Christopher Furlong

COP26 NEWS UPDATES: DAY 2

  • In the first major deal of this year’s summit, over 100 countries have committed to end deforestation by 2030.

  • Countries including Russia, Brazil, Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, China, the US and UK have said that they will sign the deforestation agreement. This is a huge coup, given that deforestation in the Amazon reached a 12-year high last year. But, campaigners have pointed out that a similar deal was made in New York in 2014, which failed to deliver.

  • Accusations of hypocrisy have been made after Amazon founder Jeff Bezos arrived in a private jet, as did Prince Albert of Monaco and many other chief executives. Around 400 private jets will fly into Glasgow for the summit. It’s been confirmed that Boris Johnson will fly back to London after the conference.

  • Meanwhile, the Cambridges arrived yesterday by train – and it’s thought they will use electric cars to travel within the city.

  • The royal couple attended a glamorous reception at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, along with the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, plus world leaders including Joe Biden, Angela Merkel and Justin Trudeau. Boris Johnson made a short speech, praising Prince Charles.

  • The prime minister also compared climate change to a James Bond “doomsday”, saying that the clock is ticking to save the world.

Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images
Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images
  • The Queen addressed the conference from Windsor by pre-recorded video, telling leaders they must act now for our children and our children’s children, urging them to “rise above the politics of the moment and achieve true statesmanship”

  • She said: “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.”

  • You can read the Queen's address to world leader in full here.

  • Her Majesty also praised Charles and William for their environmental work, saying: “I could not be more proud of them.”

  • Greta Thunberg was less gushing – telling protestors at an earlier event that politicians are “pretending to take our future seriously”. She said: "This COP26 is so far just like the previous COPs and that has led us nowhere. They have led us nowhere."

  • Crowds of activists gathered nearby the glittering reception – including groups from Extinction Rebellion and Stop Cambo.

Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images
Photo credit: WPA Pool - Getty Images

COP26 NEWS UPDATES: DAY 1

  • The conference got off to an eerie start on 31st October, with extreme weather leaving hundreds of attendees stranded at Euston Station. Torrential rain and 80mph winds caused damage to tracks – a fitting reminder of the severe weather events caused by a warming climate.

  • The chaos didn’t deter Greta Thunberg, who arrived by train from Amsterdam via London Euston on Saturday, clutching a 'Fridays for Future' placard, along with 150 youth activists. Surrounded by police, crowds mobbed her as she made her way through Glasgow’s Central Station.

  • At 6pm on Saturday evening, the bells at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow tolled, along with many others across the UK, in a warning that humanity must “pay heed to the climate crisis.”

  • World leaders began to descend on a slightly gloomy Glasgow on Sunday night, many of them arriving from the G20 summit in Rome, where the heads of the planet’s 20 major economies, including Joe Biden, Boris Johnson, Mario Draghi and Angela Merkel, agreed to limit climate change with “meaningful and effective actions.” Prince Charles was in Rome, too. He addressed the summit, saying that leaders have an “overwhelming responsibility to generations yet unborn”.

  • Back in Glasgow, campaigners were out in full force, despite the drizzly weather. Shunning gas-guzzling transport, many opted to walk to Scotland. One group of Spanish activists, Marcha a Glasgow, took a ferry from Bilbao to Portsmouth, before embarking on a 30-day hike to the city. Meanwhile, the Young Christian Climate Network walked 1,200 miles from Cornwall.

  • Extinction Rebellion activists are patrolling the streets of Glasgow. Four protestors have already locked themselves to the University's Memorial Gates.

  • During Sunday’s ceremonial open day, Abdulla Shahid – president of UN General Assembly and Foreign Minister of the Maldives – made a rousing speech, saying “we are on the edge of a cliff”, highlighting the need for a “final brave decision to save humanity.”

  • Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon met with indigenous people from the Americas, declaring that Scotland would “do everything and anything we can” to help poorer nations more vulnerable to the impact of climate change.

  • Today (Monday 1st November), climate scientists from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) are expected to report on the state of the climate, comparing this year’s temperatures to previous years.

Why is COP26 important?

The conference has been called our “last hope” to reverse the climate crisis. A recent report by the IPCC warned that the world’s pledge to keep global heating within 1.5C is fast becoming a pipe dream – meaning flooding, droughts, extreme heat waves and wildfires are set to get much worse. COP26 is a rare opportunity for world leaders to get together and make meaningful change, so there’s a lot at stake.

Photo credit: Christopher Furlong
Photo credit: Christopher Furlong

Where and when is COP26 being held?

Each year, a different world city plays host, and in November it’s Glasgow’s turn. The UK was poised to do the honours last November, but COP26 was postponed because of the pandemic. Delegates will begin to descend on the Scottish city from 31st October 2021, with the conference continuing until 12th November.

Why is it called ‘COP26’?

COP stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’ and this year will be the 26th. There are 197 ‘Parties’, mostly individual countries, although the EU acts as one big group during negotiations. COP26 will be the first time the UK will stand alone, as a result of Brexit.

What will be discussed at COP26?

After launching with a world leaders’ summit, each day will centre around a theme – from green transport to protecting nature.

During Energy Day (4th November), Alok Sharma will call to "make coal history", while on Transport Day (10th November), the focus will shift to cutting petrol cars. Greta Thunberg is expected to lead her protest through Glasgow's streets on Youth Empowerment Day (5th November).

Formal negotiations are at the heart of the event, though. The main goals are securing global net zero by 2050 and keeping the world within 1.5C of warming. Developed countries will also be asked to deliver on their promise to raise $100bn a year for those most vulnerable to climate change. This was agreed at COP15 in Copenhagen, but is yet to materialise. COP26 is said to be the most important summit since Paris in 2015.

Which world leaders will at COP26 and which world leaders are not attending?

More than 190 world leaders are expected to attend, from Boris Johnson to Emmanuel Macron. US president Joe Biden arrived in Europe early to discuss the climate crisis with the Pope ahead of the event. Meanwhile, Australia's prime minister, Scott Morrison, has made the long journey from Down Under. Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari will be there, too.

Alok Sharma, former Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary, is COP26 President, meaning he’ll lead preparations and chair meetings. There’ll also be UN officials and environment ministers.

It’s estimated that over 30,000 people will be there, including film star Matt Damon. While he won't be present in person, he is expected to give a speech by video link – bringing a touch of Hollywood glamour to proceedings.

Vladimir Putin received a personal invite from Boris Johnson, but declined. Chinese president Xi Jinping also announced he would not be attending, but would address the conference by video link. Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro will not be there either. This is bad news, as these countries are some of the world's highest polluters.

Will the royal family be at COP26?

Our 95-year-old Queen has said that she "regretfully" won't be attending, following medical advice. But other members of the royal family will be there in full force, with the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall and the Cambridges all expected to show up. Passionate conservationist Prince Charles is expected to deliver the opening address. The Sussexes are not expected to attend.

Photo credit: CHRIS JACKSON - Getty Images
Photo credit: CHRIS JACKSON - Getty Images

Will Greta Thunberg be at COP26?

The teenage activist has confirmed she will attend the conference – and she doesn't plan to come quietly, having called on Glasgow workers to join her in a climate strike on Friday 5th November.

At first, the 18-year-old said she might not be at COP26, having called for the summit to be postponed until global vaccination rates have risen (there are concerns that developing countries will be excluded if attendees need a vaccine passport). This isn’t the first time events have overtaken Greta. In 2019, when political unrest in Santiago meant that Madrid had to step in at the eleventh hour, she had to hitchhike across the Atlantic due to the last-minute change of plans.

Photo credit: Ernesto Ruscio - Getty Images
Photo credit: Ernesto Ruscio - Getty Images

What about David Attenborough?

He certainly will be there. Indeed, the broadcaster and naturalist has been named COP26 People's Advocate, meaning he'll address world leaders and the public at the summit. It's thought he'll make an impassioned plea, calling on the international community to put protection of nature at the top of the agenda. He has previously called COP26 "our last opportunity to make the necessary step-change towards protecting the planet."

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

What happened in Paris COP21?

It was a landmark event. During COP21, all nations agreed to limit global heating to no more than 2C above pre-industrial levels, or ideally 1.5C. That contract became The Paris Agreement, said to be the world’s most important climate change treaty. Countries agreed to create plans to reduce emissions known as ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’ or NDCs – which should be updated every five years. This year’s talks are particularly significant because each nation is expected to present these all-important proposals.

Photo credit: RUSSELL CHEYNE - Getty Images
Photo credit: RUSSELL CHEYNE - Getty Images

So, what will actually be agreed at COP26?

Countries will be asked how they intend to reach 'net zero' – producing fewer emissions than they suck up – by 2050. It's hoped that leaders will make ambitious pledges to end coal use, invest in renewables and switch to electric vehicles.

How can you get involved?

While applications to attend the summit are now closed, there will be plenty going on in Glasgow during the two-week event. Greta Thunberg has invited people to join her protest march from Glasgow's Kelvingrove Park on 5th November. There will be protests across the UK on Saturday 6th November, too. Visit Greenpeace for more information.

Alternatively, you could join your local COP26 Coalition to help organise action in your area. The government has also launched Together For Our Planet, a campaign to engage the nation in conversations around climate change. To learn more, follow @COP26 on Twitter.

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