The conference is over for today. So it’s goodbye from me for now. We’ll be back tomorrow morning, but here’s a roundup of what’s happened this afternoon:
- Biden apologises for Trump quitting the Paris UN climate agreement: “We will demonstrate to the world the United States is not only back at the table but hopefully leading by the power of our example,” he said.
- China’s president, Xi Jinping, called for developed countries to “provide support to help developing countries do better” in dealing with the climate crisis, in a written statement that failed to make any new significant pledges. Xi, along with Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil and Vladimir Putin of Russia, decided not to appear in person at the summit.
- India has pledged to target of net zero emissions by 2070. He also committed to India getting half of its energy from renewable resources by 2030. Modi demanded developed countries make $1tn available as climate finance.
- While not attending the conference in person, Bolsonaro claimed in a speech today that when it comes to fighting climate change, Brazil had always been part of the solution, not the problem.
- Finally, it emerged later in the day that Boris Johnson would be flying back from the Cop26 climate conference on a private plane rather than getting the train. Johnson flew into Cop26 in Glasgow from Rome after attending the G20 meeting of world leaders. Prince Charles also flew from Rome to Glasgow on a private plane separately from the prime minister.
at 2.54pm EDT
My colleague Nina Lakhani is at a protest in Kelvingrove Park. She says hundreds of climate activists from Scotland and across the world have been prevented from holding a protest outside the Kelvingrove museum where world leaders will be dining tonight.
Police have blocked every road into the Park and the lights have been switched off making it dangerous for walking with wet leaves covering the ground. Still not to be deterred, protesters armed with banners and drums are trying to find away to the main road where the leaders will Drive past. There’s a huge police presence. When asked how residents could get to their homes, one cop advised ‘they come back tomorrow’.
Cat Scothorne from Glasgow Calls Out Polluters said:
“How dare these world leaders have a fancy dinner on the first night of COP26, as if they have something to be proud of. The continued support of the fossil fuel industry by the heads of state, particularly in the global North, is killing millions of people. The consequences of climate change are faced by people not in power, but those mainly in the global South and people on sites where extraction occurs, yet the perpetrators sit in luxury, insulated from it all.”
Angela Mendes, daughter of murdered Amazon rainforest defender, Chico Mendes said:
“The Amazon is burning while leaders share toasts by the Clyde. It’s essential that real action is taken to stop the destruction of our rainforests and respect the people who live here. We have been blocked from being at the meetings but we will not be held hostage by nationalist governments. We know how to live in harmony with nature – our rights must be respected!”
at 2.27pm EDT
Downing Street has defended Boris Johnson’s decision to return from the Cop26 climate change summit by plane, citing “significant time constraints”.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman confirmed Mr Johnson will fly back to London from Glasgow when the leaders’ conference section of the summit ends this week, PA Media reported.
Pressed on why the Prime Minister could not go by train for a journey within the UK, the spokesman said it was important he was able to travel round the country while facing “significant time constraints”.
He said the private charter jet he is using for the flight uses a special mix of “sustainable” aviation fuel and is one of the most carbon-efficient aircraft of its size, while the emissions will also be offset. It produces less than half the emissions produced by the RAF Voyager which the Prime Minister sometimes uses for foreign travel. The spokesman said:
Our approach to tackling climate change is to use technology so that we do not have to change how we use modes of transport, rather we use technology on things like electric vehicles so that we can still get to net zero. That has very much been at the core of our approach.”
It is important that the Prime Minister is able to move round the country and obviously we face significant time constraints. The plane the Prime Minister used on his travels is one of the most carbon-efficient planes of its size in the world. It produces 50% less CO2 emissions than, for example, the larger, Voyager plane.
It uses a specific type of fuel that is a blend of 35% sustainable aviation fuel and 65% normal fuel, which is the maximum amount allowed.
Mr Johnson used the aircraft, operated by Titan Airways, to fly out to the G20 summit in Rome on Friday and then carried on to Glasgow on Sunday.
On India’s pledge to reach net zero emissions by 2070, eminent climate economist Prof Nicholas Stern, at the London School of Economics, has said:
“This was a very significant moment for the summit. [The action] might mean that India’s annual emissions of greenhouse gases could peak by 2030. This demonstrates real leadership from a country whose emissions per capita are about one-third of the global average. The rich world must respond [and] deliver a strong increase in international climate finance.”
In response to President Biden’s speech at COP26, Thomas Damassa, Oxfam America’s associate director for Climate Change, urged the US and other rich countries to ramp up investments toward the $100 billion promised every year to help poorer nations adapt to climate change and reduce emissions.
Additionally, rich countries must find a way forward to address climate impacts in vulnerable countries and establish a new funding mechanism for loss and damage. Back in Washington, the US must back up its global climate commitments with congressional action. The time has come to end the chokehold fossil fuels have on our economy by ending subsidies that allow fossil fuel companies to profit even more from climate destruction.
My colleagues Oliver Milman and Nina Lakhani have now published an update on Biden’s speech this afternoon.
It includes reports of an apology from Biden about Donald Trump:
At a side event, Biden also effectively apologised for his predecessor. “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 eight ball,” Biden said.
at 1.15pm EDT
Xi Jinping makes no major climate pledges in written Cop26 address
Meanwhile, China has called on developed countries to “provide support to help developing countries do better” in dealing with the climate crisis, in a written statement to the Cop26 climate conference that fails to make any new significant pledges.
at 1.45pm EDT
India to target net zero emissions by 2070
India will meet a target of net zero emissions by 2070, the country’s prime minister Narendra Modi has told the Cop26 global climate summit. This was one of five pledges he listed at the world leaders’ summit at the UN conference in Glasgow. The others included that India will increase its non fossil energy capacity to 500 GW by 2030 and it will get half of its energy from renewable resources by the same date. He also pledged that India will reduce its projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes between now and 2030, and reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 45%.
Some commentators on Twitter saying India should be given financial support to bring that 2070 date forward.
It’s also brought some much-needed optimism to the conference for others at the end of day 1.
at 1.33pm EDT
This was the full doomsday quote from Boris Johnson earlier:
It’s one minute to midnight on the doomsday clock and we need to act now. If we don’t get serious about climate change today, it will be too late for our children to get serious about it tomorrow. We can get real on coal, cars, cash and trees. We have the technology to deactivate that doomsday ticking device. We all talk about what we’re going to do in 2050, or 2060…. the average age of this conclave of leaders is over 60. The children that will judge us are children not yet born, and their children… if we fail they will not forgive us. They will know that Glasgow was that historic turning point when history failed to turn. They will judge us with bitterness and resentment.
Some interesting reaction to Boris Johnson’s James Bond moment in his speech this morning, where he drew an analogy between a ticking bomb that Bond must defuse in a film and the situation humanity finds itself in.
I’d be stroking my cat if I were a oil and gas lobbyist, says professor Myles Allen, director of the Oxford Net Zero initiative.
Boris Johnson has compared COP26 to a James Bond scenario – well, if I were an oil and gas industry lobbyist, I’d be stroking my cat at how well it is all going. You can smell the red herrings from Oxford. Everyone is taking every opportunity to talk about anything except the main point, which is how we stop fossil fuels from causing global warming before the world stops using fossil fuels. The answer is simple: we need to enforce safe and permanent disposal of carbon dioxide, as a licensing condition of selling fossil fuels, and stop fly-tipping it into the atmosphere like Glasgow’s bin-bags.