Time’s up on Day 4. Its been a pleasure to blog the conference that will, one way or another, decide our fate. Tune in tomorrow.
Here is what happened today:
New research suggests about half the world’s fossil fuel assets could become worthless by 2036 under a net zero transition. A drop in demand for oil and gas will reshape the geopolitical landscape, with countries that are slow to decarbonise likely to suffer but early movers will profit.
The International Energy Agency said country pledges at Cop26 could limit global temperature rise to 1.8C. The figure is lower than the 2C prediction made a day earlier. However, others have warned not to get complacent with estimates. The world remains on “a 2.7 degree pathway, a catastrophic pathway”, said Selwin Hart, UN Special Adviser.
Scientists have warned of a “reality check” for the world’s nations gathered at Cop26 after they discovered that carbon emissions have shot back to the record level seen before the coronavirus pandemic.
UK activist group, Insulate Britain, blocked Parliament Square in central London. The protest was an apparent response to critics who have accused them of targeting the wrong people. The group is calling on the government to commit to a programme to insulate all Britain’s homes.
Scotland’s largest train operator, ScotRail, said upwards of 50,000 people are expected at a Saturday protest, and warned travellers that its services in and out of Glasgow will be “extremely busy” this weekend. Around 8,000 to 10,000 people would take part in Friday’s youth protests, it added.
at 2.10pm EDT
The Irish government has unveiled its sector-by-sector climate action targets involving what environment minister Eamon Ryan said will be “the defining challenges of our time”.
By 2030, it wants greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced by 51% with target reductions ranges as follows:
- Electricity: 62-81%
- Transport: 42-50%
- Buildings: 44-56%
- Industry/Enterprise: 29-41%
- Agriculture: 22-30%
- Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry: 37-58%
The cornerstone of the policy is to increase the proportion of renewable electricity to up to 80% by 2030, including an increased target of up to 5 gigawatts of offshore wind.
Ryan said he thought transport would be the hardest target to meet but spoke of plans to change the entire police fleet to electric cars as a way of accelerating public attitudes to EVs.
He also spoke of “district heating at scale”, with a target of providing 8% of heating in these micro-networks.
Meanwhile, the deputy prime minister, Leo Varadkar, confirmed that Ireland would look at a scrappage scheme for car and van owners to achieve the target of 1m electric vehicles by 2030, something that had been ruled out previously.
Ministers did not comment on a recent KPMG report that suggested more than 1m of the 6.5m cattle herd would have to be culled to meet a 30% reduction in the agriculture sector.
at 1.38pm EDT
Indigenous leaders from West Papua, home to one of the largest and most diverse rainforests, have launched the world’s first “green state” at Cop26.
The contested Indonesian province declared a provisional “government-in-waiting” last year and promised to implement environmental and social protections with respect for the natural world.
Today it released its Green State Vision. It includes a three-point plan to try to prevent climate collapse. The plan pledges to:
- Make ecocide a serious criminal offence.
- Restore guardianship of natural resources to Indigenous communities.
- Serve notice on oil, gas, mining and logging companies to adhere to international environmental standards or cease operations.
Exiled leader Benny Wenda, interim president of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua and Provisional Government, said: “We are fighting for stewardship of one of the planet’s largest rainforests, a lung of the world. If you want to save the world, you must save West Papua.”
Jennifer Robinson, a barrister at the UK’s Doughty Street Chambers, who helped to draft the Green State Vision, said: “Ensuring West Papua’s right to self-determination will ensure the protection of the environment and the climate by allowing the Indigenous custodians of the land to take back control, protection and management of their resources.”
at 1.42pm EDT
UN special adviser says don’t ‘celebrate’ 1.8C, world still on ‘catastrophic pathway’
at 1.44pm EDT
Half world’s fossil fuel assets could become worthless by 2036 in net zero transition
About half of the world’s fossil fuel assets will be worthless by 2036 under a net zero transition, according to research.
Countries that are slow to decarbonise will suffer but early movers will profit; the study finds that renewables and freed-up investment will more than make up for the losses to the global economy.
It highlights the risk of producing far more oil and gas than required for future demand, which is estimated to leave $11tn-$14tn (GBP8.1tn-GBP10.3tn) in so-called stranded assets – infrastructure, property and investments where the value has fallen so steeply they must be written off.
The lead author, Jean-Francois Mercure of the University of Exeter, said the shift to clean energy would benefit the world economy overall, but it would need to be handled carefully to prevent regional pockets of misery and possible global instability.
“In a worst-case scenario, people will keep investing in fossil fuels until suddenly the demand they expected does not materialise and they realise that what they own is worthless. Then we could see a financial crisis on the scale of 2008,” he said, warning oil capitals such as Houston could suffer the same fate as Detroit after the decline of the US car industry unless the transition is carefully managed.
The challenge is evident at the ongoing Cop26 climate conference, where some of the nations most at risk of being left with stranded assets – such as the oil and gas exporters Russia and Brazil – are likely to try to slow down the transition as they have done at previous climate meetings, while those most likely to gain – such as the fuel-importing EU – are pushing for faster action.
The new paper, published in Nature Energy, illustrates how a drop in demand for oil and gas before 2036 will reshape the geopolitical landscape. Current investment flows and government commitments to reach net zero emissions by 2050 will make renewable energy more efficient, cheaper and stable, while fossil fuels will be hit by more price volatility. Many carbon assets, such as oil or coal reserves, will be left unburned, while machinery will also be stranded and no longer produce value for its owners.
Read about it here:
at 12.31pm EDT
Cop26 commitments could limit global heating to 1.8C
The International Energy Agency has crunched the numbers and reckons that combining the new pledges to cut emissions made by nations – most notably India – with the plan for 90 countries to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030 would mean global temperature rise would be limited to 1.8C.
IEA chief Faith Birol announced the news in a tweet:
There’s a big “if”. These temperature limits will only be realised if every nation fully implements all of their pledges in coming years and some pledges from developing countries are dependent on funding from rich ones. The limits are also short of the 1.5C target needed to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis.
But the temperature indicated by pledges made up until COP26 began was 2.7C – a catastrophic level. A shift to 1.8C or 1.9C, if confirmed, might well meet a key goal of Cop26, which is to keep the chance of 1.5C alive.
Joe Biden, who urged world leaders at Cop26 to confront the “existential threat” of the climate crisis, is increasingly viewed as something of a hypocrite by climate campaigners in Glasgow, who hit out at his US administration today.
A large banner reading No New Federal Fossil Fuels was unfurled by activists outside the summit ahead of an appearance today by Deb Haaland, Biden’s interior secretary. Protestors are furious that Haaland’s department has been handing out oil and gas drilling permits at a rate of more than 300 a month, with an auction of 80m acres – an area larger than the UK – set to be leased this month to fossil fuel companies seeking to exploit the Gulf of Mexico.
Separately, environmental groups ran an advert in The Herald, Scotland’s largest daily newspaper, today urging Biden to reject a slew of proposed gas pipelines and plants. Fossil fuel activity on US public lands is responsible for around a quarter of the planet-heating emissions coming from the world’s second-largest carbon polluter.
“President Biden’s refusal to halt federal fossil fuel expansion is an inexcusable climate atrocity that makes a mockery of US climate goals in Glasgow,” said Ben Goloff, a senior campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’re out of time. The president must use his executive authority to halt fossil fuel extraction on public lands, declare a climate emergency and make renewable energy available to everyone.”
at 11.43am EDT
ScotRail warns upwards of 50,000 people expected at Saturday protest
Scotland’s largest train operator, ScotRail, has warned travellers its services in and out of Glasgow will be “extremely busy” this weekend because it is expecting tens of thousands of activists to join Cop protests, with long queues at stations forecast, the Guardian’s Scotland Editor, Severin Carrell, reports.
ScotRail said there were estimates that 8,000 to 10,000 people would take part in Friday’s youth protests. It said “upwards of 50,000 people” would take part in the main Cop protests on Saturday, which are due to leave Kelvingrove park at 12.30 pm.
Oliver Holmes here, taking over the liveblog from Bibi van der Zee. We’ve got our team on the ground in Glasglow sending updates, from Greta Thunberg walkouts to electric planes to major announcements (hint hint).
at 9.41am EDT
I’m just about to hand over to my colleague Oliver Holmes, who’ll be manning the liveblog all afternoon. We’ll keep an eye on Insulate Britain, and see how much longer they stay in Parliament Square.
And we’ll also carry on following energy day at Cop26, where ministers are talking about their plans and hopes for a just energy transition. Sounds as if there will be some interesting announcements this afternoon. Thanks for following along with us!
at 9.36am EDT
Indigenous people from Alaska to Patagonia are at the Tramway on the south side of Glasgow to discuss sustainable climate solutions based on centuries of indigenous knowledge, spiritual customs and traditions.
It’s an event organised by the Minga movement, an Indigenous solidarity network in the Americas who refuse to participate inside the official Cop talks and negotiations. They are aiming to call out false climate solutions like net zero and carbon markets. The climate crisis cannot be solved through further exploitation and marketisation of natural resources, they argue, as that’s what has led to the climate breakdown communities are starting to experience.
More than 130 Indigenous youth and elders, from the Mixtecas of Oaxaca in southern Mexico, to Mapuches from Chile are here with the Minga collective, being hosted by local families, solidarity groups and churches. They all bring personal stories about the impact of land loss, water shortages and forced displacement, which they say will get worse if world leaders forge ahead with climate actions such as carbon capture and mass reforestation.
“Putting a price on natural resources is an act of colonialism and inhumanity. But there is another way,” said Calfin Lafkenche, a Mapuche organiser.
at 9.25am EDT