Key takeaways from Tuesday at COP26: On track for 2.4 degrees of warming, and is America really ‘back?’
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Key takeaways from Tuesday at COP26: On track for 2.4 degrees of warming, and is America really ‘back?’

It was gender and science innovation day at COP26 on Tuesday, but most of the focus was on countries wrangling over language around global warming limits and who will pay for the impacts of the climate crisis.

A picture of the countries whose emissions pledges fall short of their fair share — or even their own net-zero goals — is starting to emerge.

Here’s what to know from Day 9 of the summit.

Pelosi says America is back, AOC says not so fast

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — known as AOC — showed up at COP on Tuesday with very different messages.

Pelosi reaffirmed House Democrats’ plan to pass President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic and climate bill next week. “We’re very proud of that,” she said.

She also said the US House delegation came to the summit “equipped” and “ready to take on the challenge to meet the moment.”

But as Pelosi sought to say America is back to leading on the climate crisis, Ocasio-Cortez, who is also a Democrat, said there is still some way to go.

“No, we have not recovered our moral authority. I believe that we are making steps,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “We have to actually deliver the action in order to get the respect and authority internationally, to get the credit. We have to draw down emissions to get credit for being committed on climate change. It’s really that simple.”

Ocasio-Cortez said she’s looking to hold members of her party accountable to pass the economic and climate bill, which contains a $555 billion for renewable energy incentives and tax credits. If passed, it would be the biggest climate investment in Congressional history.

Amal the puppet makes a COP cameo

A giant puppet named Little Amal — which is the Arabic word for hope — opened the COP26 plenary event on gender equality, calling attention to refugee children living on the front lines of climate change.

Representing a Syrian refugee girl, the three-and-a-half-meter puppet was joined on stage by Samoan climate activist Brianna Fruean. Amal presented Fruean with a bag of seeds. Fruean gave Amal a sei flower, representing hope and light.

The Samoan activist called on global leaders to act as “planters of a global future.”

“I hope that these seeds Amal has journeyed here with today can inspire you all and remind you the importance of your role as planters of a global future,” Fruean said, calling on leaders to “plant the solutions, targets and hard limits that can help remedy this broken world.”

“Both of us have embarked here on a journey. We have arrived here at COP from two very different places. But we are connected by the fact that we are living in a broken world that has systematically marginalized women and girls, especially women and girls from vulnerable communities,” Fruean said.

Little Amal, operated by puppeteers, traveled more than 8,000 kilometers from Turkey to Glasgow to draw attention to the plight of young refugees.

We’re going to blow past 1.5 degrees

A new analysis shows that even with the flurry of new pledges to slash greenhouse gas emissions, the world is on track for 2.4 degrees Celsius of warming above pre-industrial levels — well above the 1.5-degree limit that scientists say the planet should stay under.

The watchdog Climate Action Tracker (CAT) warned on Tuesday that global greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 will still be roughly twice as high as what’s necessary to stay under the 1.5-degree threshold.

The net-zero goals of 40 countries account for 85% of global emissions cuts, but the group found only 6% of those emissions were backed up by concrete plans, under what are known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

“It’s all very well for leaders to claim they have a net zero target, but if they have no plans as to how to get there, and their 2030 targets are as low as so many of them are, then frankly, these net zero targets are just lip service to real climate action,” said Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics, in a statement. “Glasgow has a serious credibility gap.”

Taryn Fransen, an international climate change policy expert with World Resources Institute, said that the NDCs of Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Australia, Turkey and Russia were off track with their own net zero targets. She said new and updated NDCs covered around 80% of global emissions, but only about 63% of emissions were addressed by any meaningful change in those plans.

Germany, US and China push back on EV deal

A global deal on electric vehicles was expected to be announced this Wednesday, when the COP26 theme is transportation. But the US, China and Germany are resisting the deal, according to multiple reports, which is being spearheaded by the UK’s COP26 presidency.

CNN obtained a draft declaration on zero-emissions vehicles, without signatures, which would commit signatories to “work towards all sales of new cars and vans being zero emission globally by 2040, and by no later than 2035 in leading markets.”

The deal seeks to include countries, car makers and financial institutions. A footnote in the declaration makes clear the deal “is not legally binding and focused on a global level.”

US and Chinese officials have not replied to CNN’s request for comment.

A German government official told CNN that delegates are debating whether to get on board, with Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer unprepared to sign a deal. Germany is Europe’s biggest automaker.

“It is known that the transport minister is not ready to sign,” the source said. Scheuer’s office has not responded to CNN’s request for comment.

Co-founder and CEO of climate think tank E3G, Nick Mabey, said it was “clear that neither China or the US, for various reasons [will sign the declaration], even though both have a very aggressive electric vehicle policies and are trying to definitely go the whole global market.”

He added: “They’re not going to sign up to a phaseout though it’s been discussed a lot in those countries.”

Who’s going to pay for the crisis?

The COP26 presidency says it hopes to have draft text for the Glasgow Agreement by the end of Tuesday, but there are still considerable gaps in agreement over who should pay for the crisis, particularly for the Global South to adapt to its impacts.

Jennifer Tollman, a senior policy adviser from E3G, said that the issue was one of a few key sticking points, and that if it wasn’t resolved the whole agreement could collapse “like dominoes.”

More money has started to flow of the past two days, with the European Union on Tuesday announcing 100 million euros ($115 million) to the dedicated Adaptation Fund.

It follows a $232 million collective pledge from 13 national and subnational governments, including first-time donors US and Canada, on Monday, which was marked by the UNFCCC as the highest-ever single mobilization to the fund.

“This is about addressing the effects of the crisis that we are already in,” said EU Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans as he announced the pledge. “It’s not just about preventing things getting even worse, but we need to really realize that today is a day we need to act on adaptation as well. Financing adaptation is critical.”

Several developing nations and civil society groups say the bulk of climate finance has been going to mitigation — the reduction of greenhouse gases — but argue that 50% of funds should be used to help them adapt to the crisis. That can mean anything from building sea walls and dikes to prevent flooding, or improving buildings to withstand extreme weather events.

While rich nations agreed to transfer $100 billion a year to the Global South to help with their energy transition and for adaptation, reports have showed that much more money will be required.

Developed countries should “mobilize and provide at least $1.3 trillion US dollars per year by 2030 on a grant basis for which 50% for mitigation and 50% for adaptation,” said Gabon’s Environment Minister Lee White, speaking on behalf of the Africa Group.

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