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COP26 updates: Summit focuses on accelerating transition to clean energy

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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 04, 8:10 am
US needs to ‘get in the game’ on clean energy transitions, energy secretary say

The U.S. needs to lead by example in the clean energy transition and leaders should jump at the chance to scale up new technology to stay competitive on the global stage, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told ABC News.

As the “richest country in the world” and one of the biggest polluters, it will be incumbent upon Americans to “do our part,” Granholm told ABC News’ Maggie Rulli on Thursday.

“If you’re a businessperson, you want to be able to get in the game,” Granholm said. “And in the United States, we don’t want our economic competitors getting those jobs, getting those businesses. We want to be able to create it in the United States for our people to work.”

Granholm, the former governor of Michigan, said governors from states that have relied heavily on one fossil fuel industry, such as coal or oil and gas, should prioritize creating clean energy jobs for workers, adding that there are opportunities in clean energy, such as geothermal power, that use the same set of skills.

“If you’re a governor, you don’t want people moving to a new state,” she said. “They want to be able to create those opportunities inside of your state, and every single state in the United States has something to offer as a competitive advantage in clean energy.”

Nov 04, 7:34 am
Dozens of countries promise to phase out coal

A coalition of 190 countries and organizations have agreed to commit to the end of coal power at COP26, a potentially major step toward limiting global temperature increases.

Major coal-using countries such as Poland and Vietnam have committed to phasing out the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel for the first time, the U.K. government announced Wednesday night.

The coalition has committed to ending all investment in new coal power generation both domestically and internationally, rapidly scale up deployment of clean power generation, phase out coal power for major economies in the 2030s and the rest of the world by the 2040s and make a transition away from coal power in a way that benefits workers and communities.

China, Japan and Korea, the three largest public financiers of goal, have already committed to ending overseas finance for goal generation by the end of 2021.

Nov 03, 8:04 pm
Global carbon emissions set to rise after 2020’s COVID-induced reduction

Carbon emissions are on track to return to pre-COVID levels after dropping by 5.4% in 2020, according to the 16th annual Global Carbon Budget prepared by the Global Carbon Project.

Researchers from University of Exeter, University of East Anglia, CICERO and Stanford University found that coal and gas emissions are set to grow more in 2021 than they fell in 2020.

While all major emitters – U.S., China, India and the EU27 – are seeing a rise in emissions by a minimum of 4% in 2021, India and China are set to beat their respective 2019 emission levels.

“Investments in the green economy in post-COVID recovery plans of some countries have been insufficient so far, on their own, to avoid a substantial return close to pre-COVID emissions,” study leader Pierre Friedlingstein, who holds a chair in Mathematical Modelling of the Climate System at the University of Exeter, said.

Looking ahead, Friedlingstein said, “To achieve net-zero by 2050, we must cut emissions every year by an amount comparable to that seen during COVID.”

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