After a Gloomy Summit Start, Hints of Progress

Leaders reached agreements to reduce methane gas emissions and protect the world’s forests. Now, the really hard part begins.,


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We’ve also got video, opinion essays and a behind-the-scenes look at COP26 in Glasgow. Plus, this week’s non-summit news.


President Biden at a news conference in Glasgow on Tuesday. He told reporters the meeting had re-established the United States as a leader in fighting climate change.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The world leaders gathered at the climate summit in Glasgow secured new agreements on Tuesday to end deforestation and reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Now, the conference shifts to a more grueling phase.

Over the next week and a half, with the heads of state and government gone, diplomats will try to agree on deeper greenhouse gas reductions and figure out how to deliver on a still-unmet promise from more than a decade ago to deliver $100 billion annually by 2020 to help poor countries pivot away from fossil fuels and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Most critically, vulnerable countries are pressing major emitting nations to agree to increase their climate targets each year in order to keep global temperatures from heading past 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, compared with levels before the Industrial Revolution.

President Biden rebuked Russian and Chinese leaders for skipping the summit: “It just is a gigantic issue and they walked away,” he said.

Biden acknowledged “it seems like an irony” that he is asking energy-rich nations to boost oil production as he implores the world to tackle climate change.

‘America is back,’ Biden declared in June. The climate summit is a test.

Get live updates from COP26

Our team in Glasgow will be covering the negotiations, the protests and more, and you can follow in real time with our live briefings. Here’s the Wednesday edition. You can also stay up-to-date on our climate and environment page.

Your summit questions, answered

What is COP26 anyway? Here are key facts about the U.N. climate talks.

How much are countries pledging to cut emissions? These charts explain.

What’s a carbon footprint? How climate jargon is used, and abused.

Listen: A last chance to avert climate disaster?

Despite years of climate talks and treaties, greenhouse gas emissions have worsened and extreme weather events have become more frequent. Will anything change at this climate summit? Listen as Somini Sengupta, our global climate reporter, talks with Michael Barbaro, host of The Daily.


Welcome to Glasgow: When world leaders arrived at the summit, protesters were waiting to greet them.

‘No More Blah, Blah’: Greta Thunberg joined demonstrators outside the United Nations climate conference and accused political leaders of inaction in the fight against the climate crisis.

From the Opinion section

$3.5 trillion is a pittance: What we don’t spend now to fight climate change will cost us much more later, writes Abrahm Lustgarten, an environmental reporter for ProPublica, in a guest essay.

The road to climate recovery: It runs through our forests, writes John Reid, senior economist at the nonprofit group Nia Tero, and Thomas E. Lovejoy, a biologist and senior fellow at the United Nations Foundation.

Also important this week:

The leaders of powerful energy companies appeared before a House panel to face questioning on climate change and disinformation.

Forced relocation left Native Americans more exposed to climate threats, data show.

FEMA officials were advised last year to address racial inequity in relief programs. A document issued in late October shows they are still trying to decide how.

Biden pledged $3 billion to help the world adapt to climate change. That’s not as much as it seems.

South Africa secured $8.5 billion to transition away from coal. It will be a test case.

Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia is working to weaken or kill a proposed fee on emissions of methane.

Jeff Bezos, who recently flew into space, has vowed to do more to protect Earth.

Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister, said his country would sharply increase renewable energy. .

And finally:

What it’s like to cover COPs, past and present


Credit…Kieran Dodds for The New York Times

Hello from Glasgow, where I’m reporting on the United Nations climate summit with my Times colleagues Somini Sengupta, Brad Plumer and our editors.

This conference is the 26th time that the U.N. has tried to spur governments to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet. Each meeting has had its own distinct personality. Having been to 10 of them, I’d describe the mood this time as far more somber than in years past.

Six years ago, world leaders, diplomats and activists were jubilant when nearly 200 countries struck a landmark climate deal in the Paris suburb of Le Bourget. Under the Paris Agreement, every nation promised to curb emissions enough to collectively keep global warming “well below” an increase of 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, compared with preindustrial levels.

Well, the Earth’s global surface temperature has already increased by about 1.1 degrees Celsius compared with the average before 1900. So, the pressure is on in Glasgow to see countries do far more to cut emissions — and to do it before the end of this decade.

These talks also feel less energetic because environmental groups are being kept out of the main negotiating halls, largely because of coronavirus restrictions.

You can get a sense of the scene inside the main venue from this short behind-the-scenes virtual tour.

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