COP26: ′Not yet where we need to be′ on climate, Merkel says — as it happened | News | DW | 01.11.2021

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COP26: 'Not yet where we need to be' on climate, Merkel says — as it happened

More than 120 world leaders are outlining their countries' plans to tackle climate change at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland. Follow the day's developments as they happened

Watch video 00:35

Merkel calls for swift measures to tackle climate change

  • The opening ceremony began with a speech from UK PM Boris Johnson

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel said developed countries bear a "special responsibility" for fighting climate change

  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the opening ceremony that action is needed to 'save humanity'


This live updates article has now closed. To read about the first day of the COP26 climate talks click here: COP26: Leaders call for urgent climate action on first day of talks

Queen Elizabeth: 'Time for action'

Britain's Queen Elizabeth said the "time for action" had come and added that world leaders needed to "address the impact of climate change."

"It is the hope of many that the legacy of this summit — written in history books yet to be printed — will describe you as the leaders who did not pass up the opportunity; and that you answered the call of those future generations," she said in a video message.

Modi: India aims for 'net zero' emissions by 2070

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi set a much later date for his country to reach net-zero emissions than other countries at the COP26 summit, saying his country would reach the target by 2070. That's 20 years after the US target and 10 later than China.

Modi also said there needed to be a push for sustainable lifestyles "instead of mindless and destructive consumption."

Watch video 02:37

Coal energy makes India world’s third biggest polluter

European Commission chief: We need rules to create a global carbon market

Countries must put a price on planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the United Nations COP26 summit on Monday.

"We need to agree to a robust framework of rules, for example, to make global carbon markets a reality. Put a price on carbon, nature cannot pay that price anymore," she said in Glasgow.

Climate activists descend on Glasgow

Climate activists from around the world have come out in force in the Scottish city of Glasgow in a bid to make their voices heard.

Four youth climate activists from Fridays for Future MAPA (Most Affected People and Areas) are set to arrive outside the summit venue aboard Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior ship.

The activists were initially denied access by the Clyde port authorities and Scottish Police, but authorities are now looking to facilitate the activists' arrival.

The activists come from Namibia, Uganda, Mexico and Bangladesh. These countries are already facing dramatic consequences from a changing climate.

UK environmental activist group Extinction Rebellion tweeted: "Leaders must not fail those who elect them to lead... If our existence is to mean anything, we must act in the interests of all our people who are depending on us. The leaders of today must make this choice."

A rally was taking place at Govan Festival Park in the city with climate activist Greta Thunberg attending.

Oxfam activists with 'Big Heads' of Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi, France's President Emmanuel Macron, U.S. President Joe Biden, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China's President Xi Jinping perform in a Scottish pipe band

Oxfam activists donned 'big heads' of world leaders in a protest in Glasgow

Macron: Biggest polluters should be more ambitious

French President Emmanuel Macron has called for the biggest climate polluters to raise their ambition. This is crucial to the success the next two weeks, Macron said in Glasgow.

In addition, industrialized countries should contribute more financially to protect the climate, Macron said.

Biden: 'I do apologize' for Trump pulling US from Paris accord

US President Joe Biden asked the summit: "Will we act? Will we do what is necessary? Will we seize the enormous opportunity before us or will we condemn future generations to suffer?"

"This is the decade that will determine the answer. The science is clear," Biden said.

He also referred to the decision by former US President Donald Trump to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. The US formally exited in November 2020 before Biden set the wheels in motion to return to the agreement in early 2021, following his presidential election victory.

He said: "I shouldn't apologize, but I do apologize for the fact the United States, the last administration, pulled out of the Paris Accords and put us sort of behind the eight ball a little bit."

"The US is not only back at the table but also leading by the power of example," Biden said.

"We can do this, we just have to make a choice to do it," he added, referring to tackling climate change.

Watch video 00:42

Biden urges leaders to be more ambitious to curb emissions

Merkel: 'Not yet where we need to be' on climate change

"We've taken a number of decisions of the year 2015 as a guiding line [the year of the Paris Agreement], German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the climate conference in her opening remarks. "As we've been hearing than once, we are not yet where we need to be," she added.

"We must and we can implement the Paris Agreement," Merkel said.

"The world community hopes that we present ourselves in a better shape at the end of this conference than we found ourselves in the beginning," Merkel added.

The German chancellor called for concrete ways to "measure our targets and goals" to "provide us with a yardstick."

She backed carbon pricing as an effective tool for combatting climate change: "The European Union already has this kind of pricing model for the industrial sector. Others, for example China, are introducing this now," Merkel said of the policy, which places a levy on emissions of carbon dioxide in a bid to incentivize investment in clean energy.

She added that developed countries "bear a special responsibility" to tackling climate change.

ING economist Carsten Brzeski told DW that Germany must reconsider its insistence on a balanced budget if it is to spur the levels of private investment needed for the country's climate goals.

"What [the pandemic] has also shown ... is that fiscal policy will have to play a much more major role," he said. "That going on with balanced budgets is probably not the right way forward. We need enormous investments."

Financing Germany's goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2045 is a key part of discussions between the political parties in Berlin now trying to form a governing coalition. Deficit spending has been frowned upon in recent Berlin governments, despite record-low interest rates and strong investor demand for German debt.

UN chief: 'We are digging our own graves'

The COP26 climate summit must act to "save humanity" and protect the planet, UN chief Antonio Guterres said at the opening ceremony on Monday.

"It's time to say: Enough," the UN secretary-general told world leaders gathered in the Scottish city of Glasgow for the conference.

"Enough of brutalizing 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," Guterres said.

Guterres called on rich nations to meet their promises of providing $100 billion a year in climate funding for poorer nations.

He also urged global leaders to do more to protect vulnerable communities, adding that nearly four billion people suffered climate-related disasters over the last decade. "That devastation will only grow," he added.

Watch video 00:43

Climate change: Young people around the world voice their concern

UK PM: The world is strapped to a 'doomsday device'

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has opened COP26 global climate summit, beginning with a warning that the world is strapped to a "doomsday device."

"We are in the same position as James Bond today but the tragedy is this is not a movie," he added, making reference to the fictional British spy.

"The longer we fail to act the worse it gets and the higher the price when we are forced to act," Johnson added.

He referenced the younger generation who have pushed climate change onto the global political agenda as well as unborn generations "whose anger will be even greater."

Watch video 00:31

Johnson: ‘One minute to midnight on doomsday clock’

Johnson ended with a motivational message, saying that "we have the ideas, the technology," as well as "the bankers and the NGOs" to combat climate change. He joked that the hospitality of Glasgow, the conference's host city, would help too.

It "will be hard but we can do it,"  he said.

Johnson said he hoped COP26 would be the moment humanity "turned the tide" in the fight against climate change. 

"Let us in the next days devote ourselves to this extraordinary task."

World leaders arrive at summit

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed world leaders with elbow bumps on Monday morning in front of a giant planet Earth on a blue background.

The modified greeting served as a reminder that the conference had been delayed for a year amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

The greetings were due to go on for hours, as more than 120 leaders are coming to Glasgow for the first two days of the 12-day summit.

Delegates, observers and journalists were among the thousands lined outside the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) venue beside the River Clyde in Glasgow.

They faced long queues trying to get through a bottleneck at the entrance to the venue, long before security. Some already turned back and decided to work from their hotels amid concern about missing negotiating meetings.

The opening ceremony is expected to kick off at around 1 p.m. local time (13:00 UTC).

"Humanity has long since run down the clock on climate change," British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to say during Monday's opening session, according to partial remarks released by his office late Sunday.

"It's one minute to midnight and we need to act now," Johnson said. 

Ahead of the event, Johnson also tweeted: "History will judge us on what we achieve over the next two weeks. We cannot let future generations down."

DW correspondent Birgit Maass reporting from the conference said: "What we will listen for is whether they are bringing new commitments to the climate conference. Many developed countries, including the EU, have commitments to be net-zero [carbon dioxide emissions] by 2050 however many experts are saying that this is too late that we need to see change within the next decade."

She said that one of the big questions will be whether leaders are going to commit to something on top of the net-zero by 2050 goal.

Masses of people queue as they arrive for the COP26

Delegates faced long queues trying to get through a bottleneck at the entrance to the venue in Glasgow, Scotland

Who isn't at the climate summit?

There are a number of notable absences from the talks. Xi Jinping, president of top carbon polluting nation China, and Russian President Vladimir Putin are both staying away.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also decided not to travel to Glasgow, the state-run Anadolu Agency said Monday, without citing a reason for the change of plan. Reuters news agency quoted two unnamed Turkish officials, saying the trip was canceled after Britain failed to meet Ankara's demands on security.

"The president took such a decision because our demands regarding the number of vehicles for security and some other security-related demands were not fully met," the senior official told Reuters.

Red Cross: inequality is a major threat to climate crisis

Maarten van Aalst, the director of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Climate Centre, told DW on Monday about his hopes for the UN Climate Change Change Conference in Glasgow.

He called for "solutions to deal with the crisis that's already facing us today." This would be "especially for the poorest countries and the poorest people to adapt to what's already happening and to cope with the impacts."

"Our work is getting harder every day, so we're seeing it primarily as more of what we were already used to responding, but just more frequent and more intense, could be storms could be flooding, could be droughts. Increasingly, we're also seeing unprecedented events, things we've never seen before," he said when asked about the role climate change is playing in various humanitarian crises around the world.

He cited the recent heatwave and forest fires in Canada as a devastating unprecedented event caused by climate change.

He said inequality is a major challenge when dealing with the climate crisis: "It's definitely the poorest people that need the most support."

kmm/wmr (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa)