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Friday November 26th, 2021 6:48PM

The Latest: Official: China needs to be top climate polluter

By The Associated Press
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The latest on U.N. climate summit COP26 in Glasgow:

GLASGOW, Scotland -- China is at a “special development stage” that warrants its status as the world’s biggest current emitter of climate-damaging fossil fuel pollution, the nation’s senior climate negotiator said Tuesday.

Xie Zhenhua, a U.N. climate negotiator and special climate envoy for China, spoke to reporters Tuesday at the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland. China has been much talked about as a major polluter but has been little seen at the summit. Chinese President Xi Jinping has not joined the more than 100 other world leaders at the event, addressing observers and delegates in a written message on Monday instead.

Xie, who played a pivotal role in talks leading to the 2015 Paris climate accord, underscored China’s stance that the United States and other developed nations should be the ones doing more to cut climate-damaging emissions faster, not China.

“We have already been making our biggest possible effort to address climate change,” Xie said, saying China was unable to start reining in its reliance on coal-fired power plants any quicker than it was doing.

“So regarding the fact that China is the current largest emitter, it’s because China is at a special development stage,” Xie said.

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KAMPALA, Uganda — The managing director of the International Monetary Fund says Africa’s women must be empowered as part of broader efforts to build the continent’s resilience amid climate change.

Kristalina Georgieva spoke Tuesday before an Africa-focused summit at the U.N. climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

“When women are empowered, communities are so much better,” she said.

She said pre-existing obstacles to adaptation must be removed, including by widening access to credit for farmers as well as investing in resilient infrastructure. Georgieva said the world has “to do more” to support Africa’s appeal for help to adapt to climate change.

African leaders are pressing their demand for the international community to do more to support the continent of 1.3 billion people, which contributes least to global emissions but is the most vulnerable to climate change.

The African Union seeks $12.5 billion to implement a $25 billion climate change adaptation program over five years. Half of that money is coming from the African Development Bank.

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KAMPALA, Uganda — The head of the African Union says the international community must support the continent’s efforts to adapt to climate change, including a program that requires $25 billion over five years.

Speaking Tuesday at the U.N. climate conference in Glasgow, President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo said the continent needs the world to raise $12.5 billion, with the balance coming from the African Development Bank.

In his remarks before a meeting of world leaders, Tshisekedi noted that the global effort on climate change “can’t be won unless it is won in Africa.” He said he hopes the money will be raised before the next climate conference.

“It is a starting point rather than a ceiling, and it will contribute to building trust and confidence,” he said.

The continent of 1.3 billion people contributes least to climate change but will suffer most from its effects, according to experts. African leaders and climate campaigners have long called for technology transfers and substantial cash donations to help the continent build resilience.

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GLASGOW — World leaders looked at a Formula 1 car made from recycled plastic and a microwave-sized device that can generate hydrogen fuel Tuesday as they looked to promote innovation to slow climate change at the U.N. summit in Glasgow.

Speaking at the summit, President Joe Biden said “our current technology alone won’t get us where we need to be.” He added “we need to invest in breakthroughs.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi touted his country’s “One Sun, One World, One Grid” initiative to develop an interconnected solar grid across time zones.

The session was attended by Prince William, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Rockefeller Foundation President Rajiv Shah and moderated by Sky Group CEO Dana Strong.

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GLASGOW, Scotland — Delegates attending the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow faced long lines to get into the meeting for a second day on Tuesday -- though at least this time, the sun was shining.

People faced waits of up to an hour to get through security and into the Scottish Event Campus venue, though the problems were not as acute as on Monday. One complicating factor is the number of different bodies responsible for the event, including the U.N., the British government and the city of Glasgow.

Scottish Heath Secretary Humza Yousaf -- a member of the Scottish government, which is distinct from the U.K. government -- said “the U.K. government, as the event organizers, have put measures in place to manage access to the Blue Zone. Once inside the site itself, managing queues is the UN’s responsibility. “

He said the Scottish government is working with the U.K. government and the city of Glasgow "to encourage the U.N. to put in place additional measures to avoid queues such as were seen in the media reports yesterday, and to a lesser extent today,”

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GLASGOW, Scotland — The British government is sounding increasingly upbeat about progress at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

Going into the 12-day meeting, Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave the talks a 60% chance of keeping alive the goal of limiting climate change to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

But after announcements on halting deforestation and cutting methane emissions, Johnson’s spokesman, Max Blain, said “we are starting to see some significant momentum over the last day and a half as we see some real tangible commitments announced.”

He said a pledge to halt deforestation by 2030, signed by more than 100 countries, was “a massive success for COP.” Blain said: “This is a significant step forward, the biggest step forward in protecting the world’s forests in a generation.”

But he stressed that “we are not complacent. This is not a done deal by any means.”

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GLASGOW, Scotland — The United States and several European countries plan to provide funds and expertise to help South Africa ditch coal and roll out more renewable energy.

German officials said South Africa will receive about $8.5 billion in loans and grants over five years to manage the country's transition away from coal-fired power plants, which are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.

South Africa gets about 90% of its electricity from coal-fired plants.

German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said the partnership announced Tuesday. which is also backed by Britain, France and the European Union, “has the potential to become a blueprint for other regions.”

One focus of the initiative will be helping to create new jobs for tens of thousands of people in South Africa’s coal mining industry.

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GLASGOW, Scotland — Countries responsible for almost half the world’s methane emissions are signing a pledge Tuesday to cut by at least 30% the amount of the potent greenhouse gas they release into the atmosphere over the next decade.

Clamping down on methane flaring and leaks from oil wells and gas pipelines is considered one of the easiest ways to cut emissions.

Cutting methane produced from agriculture — in particular by belching cows — is a trickier matter.

Dozens of countries, including the United States, European Union members and Britain, are signing up to the pledge. It is part of a series of methane-reduction efforts announced by the Biden administration Tuesday.

Helen Mountford, a climate expert at the World Resources Institute, said the agreement “sets a strong floor in terms of the ambition we need globally.”

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MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin says Russia relies on its vast forests and “their significant capacity to absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen” in achieving the goal of building a carbon-neutral economy by 2060.

Putin said Tuesday that “after all, our country accounts for around 20% of the world’s forestland.”

Experts have questioned Russia’s calculations on just how much carbon its forests absorb, particularly in light of the devastating forest fires the country has seen in recent years.

Putin made the comments in a video statement at the launch of a new initiative aimed at preventing deforestation, which was announced at the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow on Tuesday. Putin isn’t attending COP26 in person, and no reason has been given for him not going.

Putin also said that “we improve forest management, and fight illegal logging and forest fires. We are expanding reforestation areas. We have been consistently increasing funding for these purposes."

The Russian leader said Moscow expects the new declaration on forests and land use backed by 100 countries to facilitate “closer partnerships” between countries in forest conservation and to help “to fulfill the objectives of reducing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere set out in the Paris Agreement.”

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KAMPALA, Uganda — The International Rescue Committee is urging world leaders attending the U.N. climate summit to urgently invest in climate resilience and famine prevention among the world’s most vulnerable countries.

In some African countries where the group operates, including Somalia, people face “the sharp end of the climate crisis,” including emergency conditions with current levels of global warming, it said.

“We’re extremely worried about the impact of continuing drought and conflict on vulnerable populations throughout the horn of Africa, where a large proportion of the population relies heavily on crops to eat and sell for their livelihoods, Kurt Tjossem, the group’s vice president for East Africa, said in a statement.

In Somalia, 3.5 million people face hunger after a failed harvest, with farmers who depend on livestock seeing their animals die from thirst daily, he said.

Although Africa contributes least to global warming, experts say the continent of 1.3 billion people will suffer most from its effects.

___

GLASGOW, Scotland — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says about 1,000 cities and local governments have backed a campaign for a net zero future, promising to purse ambitious climate actions to limit the rise of global temperatures.

Garcetti, the outgoing chair of the C40 group of big city mayors, told a panel discussion at the U.N. climate conference in Glasgow on Tuesday that the communities promised to pursue actions in line with meeting the goal of limiting global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).

Scientists say time is running out to meet that goal and the wish to keep that goal alive has been a centerpiece of the conference.

The 1,049 communities signed up for one or more actions, such as divesting from fossil fuels, creating sustainable food systems and committing to reduce air pollution. The actions have the potential to reduce global emissions by at least 1.4 gigatons annually by 2030.

Garcetti said that “this needs to be the decade of exponential action.’’

___

GLASGOW, Scotland — Environmentalists have launched their traditional “Fossil of the Day” awards at the U.N. climate conference, with Britain and Australia the first to receive the questionable honor.

Climate Action Network, an umbrella group of hundreds of non-governmental organizations, said many observers who had traveled long distances to attend the summit were prevented from reaching meetings because of lengthy lines. When they tried to log on from elsewhere, technical problems prevented them from connecting, CAN said.

It urged the host country to improve organization so civil society groups can participate in the talks.

Australia received the second “fossil” for recently approving three new coal projects even as it claimed to be stepping up its efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, CAN said.

___

GLASGOW, Scotland — Ecuador’s president has announced that his country is expanding the marine reserve around the Galapagos Islands by almost half.

President Guillermo Lasso told the U.N. climate conference in Glasgow on Tuesday that the government has agreed with the fishery, tourism and conservation sectors to establish a new marine reserve in the Galapagos Islands of 60,000 square kilometers (more than 23,000 square miles).

Lasso said this would be added to an existing marine reserve of about 130,000 square kilometers (50,000 square miles).

Experts says oceans are particularly vulnerable to climate change and the Galapagos Islands are considered one of the world’s biodiversity jewels.

___

GLASGOW, Scotland — More than 100 countries are pledging to end deforestation, which scientists say is a major driver of climate change.

Britain hailed the commitment as the first big achievement of the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow.

But campaigners say they need to see the detail -- such promises have been made, and broken, before.

The U.K. government said it has received commitments from leaders representing more than 85% of the world’s forests to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030.

More than $19 billion in public and private funds have been pledged toward the plan, which is backed by countries including Brazil, China, Colombia, Congo, Indonesia, Russia and the United States.

___

BEIJING — China is the largest contributor to global warming and China’s people are already suffering the brunt of climate change.

Historic floods that destroyed farms this summer in the country’s agricultural heartland are a preview of the kind of extreme conditions the country is likely to face as the planet warms.

Chinese government reports also predict rising sea levels will threaten major coastal cities while melting glaciers imperil western China’s water supply. Those with the least resources to adapt are often on the frontlines of suffering in a common pattern around the world. As one farmer in Henan province said, “Ordinary people suffer most.”

___

GLASGOW, Scotland — President Joe Biden is seeking to whip up climate change-fighting efforts abroad at a time when his own climate legislation at home is again in limbo.

Biden is attending a U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, for a second and final day Tuesday. He’s due to promote global efforts to preserve forests and stem methane leaks before flying home to Washington.

But Biden’s climate efforts on the global stage are playing out as Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has again raised doubts about Biden’s social spending package, including its $555 billion in climate provisions.

___

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is launching a wide-ranging plan to reduce methane emissions, targeting a potent greenhouse gas that contributes significantly to global warming.

Methane packs a stronger short-term climate punch than even carbon dioxide. The plan was being announced as President Joe Biden wraps up a two-day appearance at a U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland. It would tighten methane regulations for the oil and gas sector and crack down on leaks from pipelines.

A proposed rule would for the first time target emissions from existing oil and gas wells nationwide, rather than focus only on new wells.

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