Another lively day at COP26. Here are some highlights:
Deforestation Agreement First Major Deal at COP26
Over 100 world leaders – representing 85% of the world’s rainforests – agreed to end and reverse deforestation by 2030, in the COP26 climate summit’s first major deal. Brazil – where stretches of the Amazon rainforest have been cut down – was among the signatories on Tuesday. The pledge includes almost $19.2bn of public and private funds. Experts welcomed the move, but warned a previous deal in 2014 had “failed to slow deforestation at all” and commitments needed to be delivered on.
Boris Johnson Speaks Boldly About the Need to Act
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that the world is at “one minute to midnight”, having run down the clock on waiting to combat climate change. He was speaking as world leaders arrived for the landmark COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow. Speaking to the BBC, Mr. Johnson said leaders needed to move from “aspiration to action” to slow global warming.
Queen Elizabeth Welcomes COP26 Attendees with Video Message
“If we fail to cope with this challenge, all the other problems will pale into insignificance.”, Queen Elizabeth said in her welcome address to world leaders. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXvfqUe4EFQ. She told the United Nations climate change summit on Monday that “the time for words has now moved to the time for action”, as she urged world leaders to think of future generations when negotiating a deal to limit global warming.
U.S. Methane Reduction Pledge Announced in Glasgow
President Joe Biden formally announced rules to plug methane gas leaks at hundreds of thousands of oil and gas wells in the U.S., marking its most significant action yet to curb climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. EPA’s will strengthen regulations on new oil and gas wells and impose new requirements for existing wells that previously escaped methane regulations. The methane initiatives will support the president’s commitment to cut domestic emissions in half by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by mid-century. The proposals will also push forward the U.S. and European Union’s Global Methane Pledge, which has not been ratified at COP26, designed to cut methane emissions by 30% by the end of the decade.
A third of Pacific small island states and territories did not send any government figures to the COP26 summit in Glasgow due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. The lack of high-level representation of Pacific nations at the meeting has led to fears that the concerns of these countries, which are among those most at risk due to the climate crisis, will not be appropriately represented at the summit. However, the Kingdom of Tonga led by representative Uili Lousi, announced his island nation’s efforts to preserve their culture and heritage and combat the climate crisis. Experts predict that current sea level rise estimates are conservative, heightening the sense of urgency for island nations to literally survive the consequences of the climate crisis. It’s Our Future youth had a private interview session with Uili. Look out for that on our social media pages.
India has promised to cut its emissions to net zero by 2070 – missing a key goal of the COP26 summit for countries to commit to reach that target by 2050.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the pledge, the first time India has set a net zero target, at the Glasgow summit. Net zero, or becoming carbon neutral, means not adding to the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. China has announced plans for carbon neutrality by 2060, while the US and EU aim to hit net zero by 2050.
U.S. Center Hosts White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy on Climate Adaptation
Gina McCarthy and US AID Director Samantha Power discussed climate adaptation at a COP26 forum and the new PREPARE initiative of the U.S. government funded at $3 billion to support knowledge, planning and finance related to climate adaptation strategies. Greater collaboration among US AID and FEMA was discussed as severe weather events increase, and development responds to the impacts of climate change.
SGA/It’s Our Future Highlights:
Gabon Climate Adaptation Financing
The team had opportunities to chat with delegates from the Central African country of Gabon about their leading climate mitigation and adaptation strategies and their efforts to secure more funding to preserve and enhance natural forests. Gabon claims it can maintain the forests allotted to logging concessions, which cover 60% of the country, by permitting just one or two trees to be cut per hectare with 25-year gaps to let the areas recover.
CPS Mather H.S. Teacher and SGA speak with Suriname About Carbon Negative Status and New Oil Prospects
Suriname has claimed a net-negative carbon economy since 2014. Dense forests cover over 93% of the country, providing a significant carbon sink. Most of the rainforest is still in pristine condition, however it is being threatened by gold mining and logging companies. However, recent 2020 oil discoveries are being pursued – and the country delegates we spoke with sheepishly claim that they can still retain their carbon negative or net zero status while developing oil. The conundrum.
It’s Our Future (IOF) Youth Connect with Youth Activists
IOF youth delegates connected with Jerome Foster II, an American climate justice activist and voting rights advocate. He is the youngest-ever White House Advisor in United States history, serving on the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council within the Biden administration
Al Gore, Prince Williams, Bill Gates and John Kerry
And yes, our team had more up close encounters with thought leaders and celebs who turned out for COP26, including former Vice President Al Gore, author of An Inconvenient Truth that helped light the fire on the climate crisis way back in the day.