Today we’re looking at common ground between China and the U.S. at the COP26 summit, a draft out of the summit calling for faster fossil fuel phaseouts, and Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiVideo depicting violence removed from Rep. Gosar’s account after blowback Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Biden reverses Trump on owl habitats Overnight Health Care — Presented by Rare Access Action Project — Pfizer wants boosters for everyone MORE (D-Calif.) defending the United States’ climate leadership
Let’s jump in.
US, China release joint climate statement
In separate press conferences on Wednesday during a United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, each country’s climate envoy announced the agreement, a copy of which was later released by the State Department.
The statement said that the two sides plan to cooperate on regulations relating to cutting the release of planet-warming gases this decade, policies to encourage electrification of parts of the economy that use energy, and deployment of technology that captures emissions when fossil fuels are burned or pulled them from the air.
These technologies, which include carbon capture and storage, can be controversial, as past projects have had cost and mechanical issues, and they can prolong fossil fuel use.
What else? It also said they plan to collaborate on reducing emissions of a gas called methane, which is a more powerful climate-warmer than carbon dioxide and comes from activities including oil and gas development and agriculture.
As the U.S. has recently released its own strategy for taking on methane, the agreement said that China will likewise develop a national plan for methane.
The two countries also say they’ll develop additional measures both nationally and subnationally, and will meet during the first half of next year on methane standards for fossil fuels and landfills and incentive programs for agriculture.
Kerry speaks out: U.S. climate envoy John KerryJohn KerryOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Activists cry foul over COP26 draft Activists slam lack of fossil fuel pledges in COP26 draft Obama says world ‘nowhere near’ done on climate action MORE told reporters that the agreement “makes a statement about the imperative” for the world’s top two emitters to cooperate. “It commits to a series of important actions, not in the long term, not in the future, but now,” Kerry added. And he praised the action on methane, noting that it has been identified as “the single fastest and most effective way to limit warming.”
Methane is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period and even more powerful in the short term, so experts have pointed to reductions in this gas as a rapid way to lessen the planet’s warming.
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Here’s how we’re supporting the Global Methane Pledge
ExxonMobil supports reducing methane emissions by 30% by the year 2030, in line with the Global Methane Pledge. We are working to reduce methane emissions, and encourage others in and out of our industry to join. Learn more.
Draft calls for phaseout of coal, fossil subsidies
A draft agreement put forward by the president of the United Nations global climate summit calls for countries to accelerate the phaseout of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels.
The draft, which is subject to change amid negotiations, represents a more ambitious call than expected since a previous “non-paper” did not mention fossil fuels.
Still, it does not set a firm timeline for the phaseouts, and such policies could be contentious domestically in countries like the U.S.
The story so far: During the conference, 18 countries said for the first time that they would phase out coal, with major economies ending their use in the 2030s and others ending it in the 2040s. The U.S. did not join them.
When it’s burned, coal adds more planet-warming carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than other fossil fuels like oil and gas.
The new draft also calls for countries to create and release proposed pathways toward achieving net-zero emissions by or around the middle of the century in order to limit warming.
This too, could be contentious as a group of countries that includes China and India recently wrote that calls for net-zero by 2050 could exacerbate inequality between developed and developing nations.
Asked what the most contentious issues would be and whether the coal language would ultimately make it in, COP26 President Alok Sharma did not give a specific answer.
“There were a range of views that were expressed by different groups. I think there were certain elements of the cover decision that were welcomed. There were other elements of the cover decision which various parties raised concerns about,” he said during a press conference.
Pelosi defends ‘moral authority’ on climate
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday defended the U.S. “moral authority” on climate change at the COP26 climate summit after being asked about the country’s failure to commit to phasing out coal.
Pelosi, who led a delegation of House Democrats to the summit, was asked whether the U.S. retains its “moral authority” after it did not join the coal phase-out agreement, which includes 18 other countries. The U.S. also did not join a 30-country pledge to transition to entirely emissions-free vehicles announced Wednesday at the summit.
“I don’t accept the fact that America has not assumed its moral authority in all of this,” Pelosi responded. “American is back, our president was here, there were many successes that were achieved in collaboration — not dictation or condescension — with other countries, many of whom of course were ahead of us because we had the dark period of four years preceding President BidenJoe BidenVideo depicting violence removed from Rep. Gosar’s account after blowback Federal judge rejects Trump effort to block Jan. 6 docs Expected price increases raise political stakes for Biden MORE’s coming into office.”
“We have great confidence, we have absolute hope and optimism that the goals will be met,” she added. “People will say what people will say, but we know that America is back, we’ve been yearning to be back.”
Rep. Jared HuffmanJared William HuffmanLiberals, moderates strike deal on Biden agenda, clearing way for votes Jayapal threatens to sink latest Pelosi plan on votes House to move forward with new plan for votes MORE (D-Calif.) conceded “political constraints” in the U.S. that may lead to less aggressive climate action.
“I hope what you’re hearing here from the delegation is not just a willingness to step up and ask the rest of the world to do better, but we have to do that in the United States as well and you’re right, we have disconnects,” Huffman said.
He conceded that despite the ambitious climate provisions of the infrastructure package, it seeks to address methane emissions by “throwing money at the fossil fuel industry to incentivize what frankly we would like to do using other tools such as penalties and regulations.”
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KEEP ON TRUCKIN’
Thirty countries, including the U.K., Canada, Mexico and India, will join six automakers in exclusively producing zero-emissions heavy trucks by 2040, the organizers of the COP26 climate summit announced in a statement Tuesday night.
The plan will make the U.K. the first country to commit to a full phase-out of new vehicles weighing 26 metric tons or less by 2035. All such new vehicles sold in the U.K. will be emissions-free by 2040 under the British government’s commitment. The commitment applies to heavy goods vehicles, the European classification for trucks more than 7,716 pounds.
However, three of the world’s biggest car markets–the U.S., Japan and China–did not join the agreement, nor did major automakers such as Toyota and Volkswagen. India, the world’s fourth-largest car market, is the the largest market to sign onto the pledge. Several individual U.S. states, including California and Washington State, also signed on.
“We know that transport plays a key role saving the planet from warming above 1.5 [degrees Celsius], which is why this is the COP that will kick start our ambition for zero emission aviation and why I’m proud to be uniting world leaders to tackle climate change – creating new opportunities for clean growth, green jobs, and improved air quality right across the globe,” British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in a statement. “To support the transition to EVs, it’s integral that we have the infrastructure to support it.”
WHAT WE’RE READING
- For years, Chicago leaders turned the city’s water supply into a revenue stream. Now tens of thousands can’t keep up with the rising costs, WBEZ reports
- States Eclipse Feds in Cleaning ‘Forever Chemicals’ in Soil, Bloomberg reports
- Murphy accelerates plans to reduce greenhouse gas in N.J. to fight climate change, NJ.com reports
- Chinese-owned steel mill coats Serbian town in red dust; cancer spreads, Reuters reports
- U.S. ‘Won’t Have Coal’ by 2030, John Kerry Predicts in Glasgow, Bloomberg Green reports
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s energy & environment page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.