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COP26 live updates: Biden speaks on methane reduction, forest conservation

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(GLASGOW, Scotland) — Leaders from nearly every country in the world have converged upon Glasgow, Scotland, for COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference that experts are touting as the most important environmental summit in history.

The conference, delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was designed as the check-in for the progress countries are making after entering the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, a value that would be disastrous to exceed, according to climate scientists. More ambitious efforts aim to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Not one country is going into COP26 on track to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, according to experts. They will need to work together to find collective solutions that will drastically cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.

“We need to move from commitments into action,” Jim Harmon, chairman of the World Resources Institute, told ABC News. “The path to a better future is still possible, but time is running out.”

All eyes will be on the biggest emitters: China, the U.S. and India. While China is responsible for about 26% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, more than all other developed countries combined, the cumulative emissions from the U.S. over the past century are likely twice that of China’s, David Sandalow, a senior research scholar at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, told ABC News.

Here’s how the conference is developing. All times Eastern:

Nov 02, 8:09 am
Putin, Bolsonaro appear virtually at conference

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro made what may be their only appearances at COP26, as neither leader is attending the summit in person.

Russia has pledged to get to net zero by 2060, Putin said, adding that 20% of all forests are located in Russia.

“I am convinced that the conservation of forests and other natural ecosystems is a key component of international efforts to address global warming and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases,” Putin said in a pre-corded video played at an event on protecting forests Tuesday.

Bolsonaro also expressed support for the Glasgow Declaration on Forests, saying he is committed to ending illegal deforestation by 2030.

“Forests are important to me because they cover more than 60% of my country,” Bolsonaro said. “They are a source of health and life and are home to the greatest natural wealth and biodiversity on the planet. We are committed to eliminating illegal deforestation by 2030.”

Pedro Castillo, the president of Peru, spoke about protecting the Peruvian Amazon in pre-recorded remarks.

Nov 02, 8:36 am
Biden, world leaders push to conserve global forests

On his second day at COP26, Biden outlined the United States’ plan to join the world in its mission to reduce deforestation.

“Preserving forests and other ecosystems can and should play an important role in meeting our ambitious climate goals as part of the net-zero emissions strategy we all have,” Biden said.

The plan has four components: to incentivize restoration and conservation, to encourage private sector investment, to increase data collection and accountability and to meet a $9 billion U.S. funding goal through 2030 – subject to approval by Congress.

Biden hopes this plan will restore 200 million hectares of forest and other ecosystems by 2030.

Biden unveiled new rules to reduce emissions of greenhouse gas methane on Tuesday.

The U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan expands on policies and standards set by the Obama administration that were repealed by former President Donald Trump.

As a part of the plan, the Environmental Protection Agency now requires states to develop methane reduction plans for oil and gas industries, aiming to reduce emissions by 75%. There will new regulations on large transmission lines and at-home pipes to lower the risk of methane leaks. Additionally, the Department of the Interior will work on shuttering abandoned oil and glass wells.

During his speech at COP26, Biden referred to his $1.75 trillion infrastructure bill that is awaiting passage in Congress.

“My ‘Build Back Better’ framework will make historic investments in clean energy,” Biden said. “[It’s] the most significant investment to deal with the climate crisis that any advanced nation has made ever.”

Nov 01, 4:55 pm
Israeli energy minister misses leaders’ summit due to wheelchair inaccessibility

Karine Elharrar-Hartstein, Israel’s national infrastructures, energy and water resources minister, was not able to attend COP26’s leaders’ summit because the venue was not handicap accessible.

Elharrar, who uses a wheelchair, tweeted she was disappointed with the United Nations, which she said promotes accessibility for people with disabilities, but in 2021, does not provide accessibility to all of its events.

UK Ambassador to Israel Neil Wigan denounced Elharrar-Hartstein’s treatment at COP26.

“I am disturbed to hear the @KElharrar was unable to attend meetings at #COP26,” Wigan tweeted. “I apologise deeply and sincerely to the Minister. We want a COP Summit that is welcoming and inclusive to everyone.”

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