As the second week of negotiations at COP26 got underway, the focus turned to the impact of extreme weather, environmental degradation and rising sea levels, and what can be done to protect those most affected.
In dozens of events at the summit’s main venues, delegates explored how to adapt economies to mitigate against the effects of climate change, and how to make promises turn into measurable and effective actions.
Former US president Barack Obama told an audience of young climate activists that the world’s island nations are the “canaries in the coal mine” of climate change.
The ex-president who led the way on the 2015 Paris Agreement, said actions to meet the climate emergency in the US in the long-term were significant, and the US was again ready for “leadership role” despite four years of “active hostility,” anonymously referring to President Trump.
“In the US alone more than three million people now work in clean energy… more than the number of people currently employed by the entire fossil fuel industry,” said Obama.
“All of us have a part to play, all of us have work to do and all of us have sacrifices to make.”
To the young people in the audience, he said: “I want you to stay angry. I want you to stay frustrated. But channel that anger. Harness that frustration. Keep pushing, harder and harder, for more and more. Because that’s what’s required to meet this challenge.”
Meanwhile, a new report published by The Washington Post claims that discrepancies exist over unreported greenhouse gas emissions by countries around the world.
Juliette Eilperin, The Post’s Deputy Climate Editor, said on social media:
“Our analysis of nearly 200 country UN reports finds a major gap b/w what greenhouse gas emissions countries say they emit & what they're putting into the atmosphere”
“The gap we identified ranges from at least 8.5 billion tons of CO2 equivalent to as high as 13.3 billion tons/year of underreported emissions — big enough to move the needle on global warming. It has huge implications for #COP26Glasgow since pledges often rest on this data.”
The UK has pledged £290m to help poorer countries cope with the effects of climate change, but lesser developed nations have called for much more: $100bn from the world’s richest countries, arguing that the poorest are already the worst affected.
Most of the cash from the UK will go to help Asian and Pacific countries vulnerable to climate change such as Bangladesh.
Another report which surfaced at COP on Monday hit a nerve closer to home. A new study shows that some imports to Wales are part of the global climate problem affecting the world’s most vulnerable societies.
The charities WWF Cymru, Size of Wales and RSPB Cymru have worked on a study which tracked imports of soya beef, cocoa, leather, natural rubber, palm oil, and soy, amongst other commodities.
Interviewed by BBC Wales, Rivelino Verá Gabriel, a chief of the Mbya Guarani people of southern Brazil, said Welsh soya imports could be responsible for “not only deforestation but indigenous blood”.
The Brazilian tribal chief said: “People who buy soya must know where it comes from. They need to know whether this soya they're buying to feed a chicken from Wales, for instance, is coming from deforested areas in indigenous territories.”
The study showed nearly a third of the land used to grow these kind of products are in countries at high risk of deforestation, and that carbon emissions linked to forest clearance to provide soy, cocoa, palm and rubber imports were equivalent to nearly a quarter of Wales' transport emissions every year.
The report proposes the Senedd encourages farmers to adopt nature and climate-friendly practices that are not reliant on imported animal feed, and makes Wales the “first deforestation free nation.”
Julie James, Wales’ Climate Change Minister, who met with indigenous leaders at COP on Monday, described the study’s findings as “shocking” and said she was “determined to change procurement processes.”
“We absolutely have to do something to diminish and hopefully eliminate our footprint abroad as well as at home.”
The achievements of COP26 will be revealed, and argued over, later this week, and long into the future.
On Monday, two major goals of COP26 were still outstanding: pledges to cut emissions in half by 2030 to keep the 1.5C global warming limit goal on track; and the need for $100bn to be confirmed annually for poor nations, with half those funds going to help those countries adapt to global warming’s worst effects, as a matter of urgency.