COP26 updates: Summit focuses on accelerating transition to clean energy

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(GLASGOW, Scotland) — Leaders from nearly every country in the world have converged upon Glasgow, Scotland, for COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference that experts are touting as the most important environmental summit in history.

The conference, delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was designed as the check-in for the progress countries are making after entering the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, a value that would be disastrous to exceed, according to climate scientists. More ambitious efforts aim to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Not one country is going into COP26 on track to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, according to experts. They will need to work together to find collective solutions that will drastically cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.

“We need to move from commitments into action,” Jim Harmon, chairman of the World Resources Institute, told ABC News. “The path to a better future is still possible, but time is running out.”

All eyes will be on the biggest emitters: China, the U.S. and India. While China is responsible for about 26% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, more than all other developed countries combined, the cumulative emissions from the U.S. over the past century are likely twice that of China’s, David Sandalow, a senior research scholar at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, told ABC News.

Here’s how the conference is developing. All times Eastern:

Nov 05, 7:47 am
US aims to ‘dramatically’ scale up carbon capture

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced a new goal to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and store it for less than less than $100 per metric ton.

The “Carbon Negative Shot” is the government’s first major effort in carbon dioxide removal, a key facet of its plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, according to the DOE.

“By slashing the costs and accelerating the deployment of carbon dioxide removal — a crucial clean energy technology — we can take massive amounts of carbon pollution directly from the air and combat the climate crisis,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.

By midcentury, carbon dioxide removal will need to be deployed at the gigaton scale. One gigaton of subsurface sequestered carbon dioxide is the equivalent of approximately 250 million vehicles driven in one year.

The technology still requires significant investments in research and development, according to the DOE.

Nov 04, 1:52 pm
American agriculture is ready to tackle climate change, agriculture secretary says

The Department of Agriculture is researching initiatives to invest in more climate-friendly alternatives to traditional agriculture, Tom Vilsack, the secretary of Agriculture, told ABC News.

“I was here in 2009 at Copenhagen, and at that point in time, American agriculture was not ready for this day,” Vilsack told ABC News’ Maggie Rulli on Thursday. “Today they are, and that is a big difference and an important difference.”

Vilsack said he understands why some farmers are reluctant to attribute changes in their land or trends in weather patterns to climate change because many are scraping to get by and can’t take on the cost of changing their operations.

But the Department of Agriculture hopes to take away some of that burden, Vilsack said.

“There’s a tremendous opportunity here for us to make a significant impact early in this process, and we’re excited at USDA to be part of part of the solution instead of part of the problem,” he said.

About 24% of emissions in the U.S. come from agriculture and land use, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Nov 04, 12:15 pm
Secretary of Interior issues global challenge for offshore wind energy

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland highlighted the ongoing efforts the U.S. is making to ramp up offshore wind production to encourage the rest of the world to set equally ambitious targets for commitments.

The Biden administration has pledged to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030. Haaland issued a global challenge at COP26 for every country to join in setting ambitious domestic offshore wind production.

“Climate change doesn’t recognize territorial or political boundaries,” she said. “It’s a global problem that requires a global effort to address it.”

The Interior Department is looking to complete the review of more than a dozen plans for offshore wind facilities by 2025.

Implementing the target could create 80,000 good-paying jobs, the White House announced in March.

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