Leaders issue doomsday warning to tackle climate crisis

World leaders gathered on the first day of COP26 to discuss urgent action to combat global warming.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, right, greet US President Joe Biden , at the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Monday, Nov. 1, 2021. The U.N. climate summit in Glasgow gathers leaders from around the world, in Scotland's biggest city, to lay out their vision for addressing the common challenge of global warming [Christopher Furlong/Pool/AP Photo]

World leaders ramped up the rhetoric on Monday in an attempt to revive sputtering international climate negotiations.

The COP26 conference in the Scottish city of Glasgow opened on Monday, a day after the G20 economies failed to commit to a 2050 target to halt net-carbon emissions – a deadline widely cited as necessary to prevent the most extreme global warming.

Instead, their talks in Rome only recognised “the key relevance” of halting net emissions “by or around mid-century”, set no timetable for phasing out coal at home and watered-down promises to cut emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas many times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addressed the opening ceremony, with other speakers set to include British natural historian David Attenborough and the prince of Wales.

Guterres told world leaders they needed need “maximum ambition” to make the summit a success.

“Enough of brutalising biodiversity. Enough of killing ourselves with carbon. Enough of treating nature like a toilet. Enough of burning and drilling and mining our way deeper. We are digging our own graves,” he said.

Meanwhile, India’s economy will become carbon neutral by the year 2070, the country’s prime minister announced Monday at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

This live blog is now closed. These were Monday’s updates:

China’s Xi’s absence seen as ‘not good enough’: AJ correspondent

China was notably absent from this year’s Summit, with President Xi Jingping releasing a written statement instead.

“Xi Jinping has not left China since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak and did not attend the G20 and is not at COP 26 – which has frustrated many. Because as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases many are simply saying that is not good enough,” Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu reported from Beijing.

Moreover Yu reported: “China last week submitted its climate targets to the UN, and we didn’t really see anything new. China said it will peak carbon emissions by 2030 and then try to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. And what China did in its submission last week was really just elaborate on the steps he wants to take to achieve those goals.”

China President Xi Jinping [File: Zhai Jianlan/Xinhua/Getty Images]

No concrete domestic action plans to achieve climate targets: Academic

Climate targets announced by nations remain “untethered to concrete domestic actions plans”, Tufts University professor Kelly Sims Gallagher told Al Jazeera.

“While we’ve had new announcements from Russia and Saudi Arabia that they will achieve net zero by 2060. They don’t have an action plan for how they’re going to get from, you know where they are today in 2021 to 2060,” Gallagher said, speaking from Medford, Massachusetts.

“Even if you look at the United States, I think President Biden has the very best of intentions but everybody knows now that the main proponent of his action plan for getting us on track to achieving its 2030 target is not embraced by Congress.”

Australia’s Morrison banks on technology to fix climate

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has insisted that curbing climate change must not come at a high cost to people and businesses, saying technology will provide solutions to the climate crisis.

Morrison said “technology will have the answers to a decarbonised economy, particularly over time – and achieve it in a way that does not deny our citizens, especially in developing economies, their livelihoods or the opportunity for a better quality of life.”

Australia has pledged to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, Morrison said by 2030 Australia’s emissions will be 35 percent below 2005 levels.

World working together can save planet: Attenborough

British naturalist David Attenborough gave leaders at the UN climate summit in Glasgow a brief lesson is the fragility of the planet and humanity’s dependence on the natural world.

“We are, after all, the greatest problem solvers to have ever existed on Earth,” he said. “If working apart, we are a force powerful enough to destabilise our planet. Surely working together, we are powerful enough to save it.”

Attenborough said for much of humanity’s existence, the climate on Earth had swung wildly before stabilising 10,000 years ago, allowing human civilizations to flourish.

“The stability we all depend on is breaking,” he said.

Ukraine leader warns of ecological ‘bombs’ on its territory

Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned of ecological “bombs” threatening the world from Crimea and Donbas.
Zelenskyy complained of the risks the Russian naval base in Crimea poses to the local ecosystem.

He also said a devastating conflict in eastern Ukraine led to a shortage of water, soil degradation and the flooding of mines in the rebel-controlled part of Donbas.

Failure to finance poor nations ‘immoral’: Barbados PM

The Barbados prime minister said failure to provide nations with the funds to protect themselves and adapt to climate change was “measured in lives and livelihoods in our communities”.

“That, my friends, is immoral and it is unjust,” Mia Mottley said.

“We want to exist in a hundred years from now. And if our existence is to mean anything, then we must act in the interest of all our people who are depending on us.”

Uhuru Kenyatta paints grim picture of impact on Africa

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta urged leaders of wealthier nations to take into consideration the “special needs and circumstances of Africa” in the fight against climate change.

“Throughout Africa as the most vulnerable continent to the impacts of climate change, countries are already experiencing loss and damage of an increasing magnitude and frequency,” he said.

Kenyatta said that while Kenya had developed a plan maintain a low carbon development trajectory, by 2030 the economic costs of loss and damage to developing countries could reach as much as $580bn.

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, UK, November 1, 2021 [Yves Herman/Pool/Reuters]]

India pledges to reduce emissions to ‘net zero’ by 2070

India’s prime minister says his country will aim to stop adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere by 2070 – two decades after the United States and at least 10 years later than China.

Modi said the goal of reaching “net zero” by 2070 was one of five measures India planned to undertake to meet its commitments under the Paris climate accord.

Modi also said India would increase its 2030 target for installed capacity of “non-fossil energy” – mostly solar – from 450 to 500 gigawatts

Rich countries must fund transition of poor countries to renewable energy: Scientist

Speaking from Glasgow, Joham Rockstrom of the Postdam Institute of Climate Impact Research believes rich nations have the “fundamental responsibility” to help poor nations transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy systems.

“It has to be the OECD countries in the world, it has to be the rich minority of industrialised countries that have been surfing along for 150 years … benefitting from a climate-destroying fossil fuel-based economy,” he told Al Jazeera.

Rockstrom said funding the Green Climate Fund and a global price of carbon were some ways the industrialised countries could help in helping vulnerable nations transition.

French activist Jean-Baptiste Redde also known as Voltuan, centre, demonstrates outside the venue in Glasgow on November 1, 2021, on the second day of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference [Oli Scarff/AFP]

Ecuador to expand Galapagos marine reserve, president says

The Galapagos marine reserve will be expanded by some 60,000sq km (23,166sq miles), Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso said at COP 26.

“I announce the declaration of a new marine reserve in Galapagos,” Lasso said at a news conference on the sidelines of the COP26 summit. “It will be nothing less than 60,000 square kilometres to be added to the existing reserve.”

The Galapagos island reserve is already one of the largest in the world, at 133,000sq km (51,351sq miles), but the expansion will add the Cocos Ridge, which extends towards Costa Rica and is a feeding and migration area for endangered species.

Ecuador will seek to swap debt for conservation, in a bid to create a trust that will allow it to finance the preservation of the areas and invest in better infrastructure and technology for the islands.

Seychelles leader ‘scared’ of impact on his country

President of Seychelles Wavel John Charles Ramkalawan said he is “scared” of the effect climate change will have on his country during his address at the opening session of the COP26 Leaders Summit on Monday.

“When I hear the expression rising sea level, I am scared because it brings home the awareness that my country’s granitic islands will lose all the economic activities happening around the coast,” said during his address.

Ramkalawan added that he feared the Seychelles, “the beautiful archipelago of 115 islands”, may be reduced to less than 50 islands as the coral reefs disappear.

Biden: ‘Decisive decade’ to tackle climate crisis’

President Joe Biden said actions taken this decade to contain climate change would be decisive in preventing future generations from suffering, declaring that “none of us can escape the worst that is yet to come if we fail to seize this moment.”

“Will we do what is necessary?” Biden asked. “This is the decade that will determine the answer.”

Standing before world leaders gathered in Scotland, he sought to portray the enormous costs of limiting carbon emissions as a chance to create jobs by transitioning to renewable energy and electric automobiles.

“We can create an environment that raises the standard of living around the world,” he said. “This is a moral imperative, but it’s also an economic imperative.”

US President Joe Biden presents his national statement as a part of the World Leaders’ Summit at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, UK, November 1, 2021 [Andy Buchanan/Pool/Ruters]

Spain commits to increasing climate funding

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Spain would increase climate finance by 50 percent by 2025, speaking at the United Nations COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

Brazil to cut climate emissions by 50% by 2030

Brazil’s Environment Minister Joaquim Pereira Leite said on Monday that the country would cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030, substantially raising the previous commitment to reduce emissions by 43 percent in that time period.

In a pre-recorded video shown at COP26 in Glasgow, President Jair Bolsonaro said he had authorised Leite to raise Brazil’s climate targets.

A protester dressed as a dinosaur appeals to US President Joe Biden at a Peta demonstration outside the Gallery Of Modern Art on November 1, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland [Chris Jackson/Getty Images]

French President Macron arrives to summit

After being greeted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron was surrounded by a throng of media as he made his way through the COP26 conference centre.

Walking towards the delegates’ area, Macron was approached by a student observer from Paris, 22-year-old, Cassandra Windey.

The French president listened to her as she said she was encouraging him to act to make the COP26 a success.

She also said she lamented not being allowed to observe, from inside the negotiations due to what she had been told were COVID-related restrictions.

‘Hopes of the world are upon you’: Prince Charles

The prince of Wales told leaders at the United Nations Climate Change Conference the “hopes of the world are upon you.”

The heir to the British throne issued a plea to the representatives of more than 200 countries to “create the environment that enables every sector of industry to take the action required”.

Charles, a longtime champion of environmentalism, said the solution to the threats of climate change is “radically transforming our current fossil fuel-based economy to one that is genuinely renewable and sustainable”.

The UK’s Prince Charles and his wife Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall during the opening ceremony of the COP26 UN Climate Summit, in Glasgow, Scotland, Monday, November 1, 2021 [Alberto Pezzali/AP Photo]

COP26 must act to ‘save humanity’: UN chief

The COP26 climate summit must act to “save humanity” and protect the planet, UN chief Antonio Guterres said at the summit’s opening ceremony, warning that currently “we are digging our own graves.”

The United Nations secretary-general said countries must keep the Paris deal goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7F) alive.

Calling for the decarbonisation of global economies and the phasing out of coal, he said world leaders need “maximum ambition” to make the summit a success.

“It’s time to say: enough,” Guterres told world leaders.

“Enough of brutalising biodiversity. Enough of killing ourselves with carbon. Enough of treating nature like a toilet. Enough of burning and drilling and mining our way deeper. We are digging our own graves.”

Erdogan skipped COP26 due to unmet security demands

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he decided against attending the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow after the UK failed to meet Turkey’s demands on security arrangements, according to Turkish broadcaster NTV.

“When our demands were not met, we decided not to go to Glasgow,” Erdogan was quoted as telling reporters on his plane returning from Rome.

Activists dressed as world leaders protest in Glasgow

Armed with bagpipes and dressed in kilts, the Oxfam campaigners visualised that world leaders need to come up with more action and not only “hot air” to tackle the climate crisis.

“These leaders, instead of reducing emissions and putting the world on a safer path, they are just blowing hot air, and we have had enough of hot air and empty promises, what we are asking for is for concrete action”, said Oxfam Climate Policy Lead Nafkote Dabi.

“We need climate finance, poor countries need climate finance, vulnerable communities need climate finance, and they need to be serious about this, to support vulnerable countries, to adapt to the worst impact of the climate crisis.”

Oxfam ‘Big Head’ caricatures of world leaders protest on the fringes of COP26 [Scott Heppell/AP]

‘We need to act now’: British PM

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has welcomed more than 120 world leaders to historic climate talks in Glasgow with the stark warning: “It’s one minute to midnight, and we need to act now.”

Johnson kicks off the Glasgow summit from 12:00 GMT, having admitted to a “road to Damascus” conversion to the threat of climate change.

“It’s one minute to midnight and we need to act now,” Johnson was due to tell them in his keynote speech, according to Downing Street. “If we don’t get serious about climate change today, it will be too late for our children to do so tomorrow.”

Delegates attend the opening ceremony of COP26 at SECC in Glasgow [Christopher Furlong/Pool via Reuters]

Biden arrives in Scotland for UN climate summit

President Joe Biden arrived in Scotland on Monday for a UN climate summit, flying in from Rome where he had attended the G20.

Air Force One touched down in Edinburgh, with the US president due to address the COP26 summit in Glasgow at 1:00pm (13:00 GMT).

Global climate talks open as world leaders start arriving

World leaders have begun arriving at crucial international climate talks in Scotland.

The biggest names, including US President Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, France’s President Emmanuel Macron and Ibrahim Solih, president of the hard-hit Maldives, will take the stage on Monday.

Xi Jinping, president of top carbon-polluting nation China, and Russian President Vladimir Putin will not be in Glasgow. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also decided not to travel to Glasgow, saying the security arrangements did not meet Turkey’s demands.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies