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COP26: What we’ve learned so far and what’s next

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  • David Knowles
    Benedictine monk and historian (1896-1974)

With the first week of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, now over, the clock is ticking for world leaders to reach a meaningful agreement to curb global temperature rise and reduce greenhouse emissions. Yahoo News' Eve Hartley and David Knowles explain what COP26 has accomplished so far and what to expect as the summit draws to a close.

Video Transcript

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COP26 is widely regarded as the planet's last best chance at combating global warming [INAUDIBLE] the halfway point of the UN Climate Change Conference. What does that goal look like? Set in Glasgow, Scotland, the summit has seen its fair share of logistical challenges, from long lines to a lack of seating. The sprawling event space that takes 15 minutes to walk end to end has been criticized by some attendees. But aside from issues with the venue, including some questionable food offerings, there's been a lot of important actions taking place. Here's Yahoo News' David Knowles, reporting from Glasgow.

DAVID KNOWLES: The start of the week was pretty crazy here at COP26. Over 100 countries signed on to a pledge to reduce methane emissions by 30% by the year 2030. So that was a good start. Another 100 nations, some of the same ones, signed on to a separate pledge to end deforestation by the year 2030. Deforestation is a big issue because the world's big forests act as a carbon sink. So that was an encouraging sign.

The next big thing, I would say, of note would be that several countries [? had ?] agreed to help South Africa transition from its use of coal to renewable energy. A big, big issue here at COP is how the developing world is going to be given help to transition to renewable energy. And so the US and various countries came together and said that they would fund 8.5 billion in financing to help them accomplish that.

You know, the US has come out with a show of force at this conference. It seems like every time you turn around, you're running into John Kerry. He's the president's point person at the conference, and he's delivered numerous speeches, given media availability. He leads panels at the US Center in the main pavilion here. He's really the driving force behind what the US is hoping to achieve-- to cut its emissions in half by 2030 and to go net zero by 2050. That's, you know, easily said, harder done. But it's trying to lead by example.

- Outside of the venue, there's also been plenty of action, with protesters taking to the streets every day. Climate activist Greta Thunberg was a notable attendee at many of the demonstrations, alongside some other interesting attendees. But what could happen next?

DAVID KNOWLES: Next week is the nitty-gritty for more pledges and more commitments, with the big goal of keeping temperature rise from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius. It's a lot of technical things. And every little bit helps. You'll see some sort of a document that comes at the end of this conference. It's still unclear as to how many nations will sign on to that document. We're just going to have to wait and see.

But there's a lot of chipping away that happens in the next week. So small side deals like the deal to help South Africa transition away from coal. There will be more deals like that. There will be more financing announced. There will be more billionaires like Jeff Bezos coming in and saying, I'm going to donate x amount of money to help do x, y, or z. And all these things together go toward the enormous task of keeping temperatures from rising too high.

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