Agency: Barack Obama, who helped to seal the Paris climate agreement six years ago, returned to an international climate summit to rally nations to heal the planet.
“To be honest with ourselves, yes, this is going to be really hard,” Obama said. He added: “Sometimes we will be forced to settle for imperfect compromises. But at least they advance the ball down the field.”
Negotiators from about 200 countries were entering Week 2 of climate talks trying to resolve big issues around money, transparency and timelines. Attendees are sharply divided over how much progress is being made.
Some are optimistic, pointing to flashy new promises and heads of state coming together. Others note that the gauzy commitments with decades-long deadlines often lack the concrete details to follow through. As the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg put it, “Blah, blah, blah.”
Quotable: “The actual negotiations here are in danger of being drowned out by a blitz of news releases that get great headlines, but are often less than meets the eye,” said Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, a research institute based in Kenya.
Recap: More than 100 countries agreed to cut methane emissions. Another 130 countries vowed to halt deforestation by 2030 and committed billions. India committed to net zero emissions by 2070.
Agency: Desperate to ease electricity shortages ahead of winter, China is opening up new coal production exceeding what all of Western Europe mines in a year, at a tremendous cost to the global effort to fight climate change.
The campaign has unleashed a flurry of activity in China’s coal country, Shanxi Province. The region mined nearly a billion tons of coal last year, making up only about a quarter of China’s overall output, but still twice as much as the U.S. The goal nationwide is to produce 220 million metric tons a year of extra coal, a 6 percent increase from last year.
China is already by far the world’s largest coal producer. The additional production will help short-term growth, but it could impose a long-term cost on the Chinese economy. And it comes as world leaders are set to converge in Glasgow for a crucial climate summit, for which China did not boost climate targets.
Details: China’s extra coal by itself would increase humanity’s output of planet-warming carbon dioxide by a full percentage point, a climate researcher said, adding, “let’s hope it’s just a temporary measure to mitigate the current energy crisis.”
Safety: Rapid expansion also means more risks for coal miners. China’s National Mine Safety Administration said on Oct. 21 that 10 accidents had left 18 workers dead in the preceding four weeks.
Oil producers: Executives at the world’s biggest oil and gas companies are testifying before U.S. lawmakers over allegations that the companies for years downplayed the role that fossil fuels have in global warming.
Agency: Australia is the world’s third-largest exporter of fossil fuels and one of the last holdouts among developed nations to commit to net zero emissions by 2050.
With just days to go before a major U.N. climate conference opens in Scotland, Australia has refused to strengthen its 2030 target or make plans for transitioning away from fossil fuel production.
Coal mines and gas fields are still being opened and approved. Tax breaks for the fossil fuel industry last year alone were worth more than what Australia spends on its army.
“The government and the opposition are captured by the coal and gas industries,” said Adam Bandt, the leader of the Australian Greens and a member of Parliament from Melbourne. “It’s a version of a petro-state.”
Growing backlash: Polls show that a strong majority of Australians want climate action even if the costs are significant, and want the government to stop approving new coal mines. Several states, including New South Wales, have committed to net zero emissions by 2050.
COP26: Prime Minister Scott Morrison only recently agreed to attend the climate summit after criticism from Queen Elizabeth II and a crowd-funded billboard in Times Square that mocked his reluctance to address climate change, calling him “Coal-o-phile Dundee.”
Related: U.S. intelligence and defense agencies issued reports warning that the warming planet will increase strife between countries and spur migration.
By Justin Rowlatt & Tom Gerken
A huge leak of documents seen by BBC News shows how countries are trying to change a crucial scientific report on how to tackle climate change.
The leak reveals Saudi Arabia, Japan and Australia are among countries asking the UN to play down the need to move rapidly away from fossil fuels.
It also shows some wealthy nations are questioning paying more to poorer states to move to greener technologies.
This “lobbying” raises questions for the COP26 climate summit in November.
The leak reveals countries pushing back on UN recommendations for action and comes just days before they will be asked at the summit to make significant commitments to slow down climate change and keep global warming to 1.5 degrees.
The leaked documents consist of more than 32,000 submissions made by governments, companies and other interested parties to the team of scientists compiling a UN report designed to bring together the best scientific evidence on how to tackle climate change.
These “assessment reports” are produced every six to seven years by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN body tasked with evaluating the science of climate change.
These reports are used by governments to decide what action is needed to tackle climate change, and the latest will be a crucial input to negotiations at the Glasgow conference.
The authority of these reports derives in part from the fact that virtually all the governments of the world participate in the process to reach consensus.
The comments from governments the BBC has read are overwhelmingly designed to be constructive and to improve the quality of the final report.
The cache of comments and the latest draft of the report were released to Greenpeace UK’s team of investigative journalists, Unearthed, which passed it on to BBC News.
Agency: Fifteen countries are planning to produce more than twice as much oil, gas and coal through 2030 as would be needed if governments were to limit warming to Paris Accord goals, according to a U.N.-backed report released Tuesday.
The report looked at future mining and drilling plans from major fossil fuel producers, including the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Russia, China and India. It lands in advance of a two-week U.N. climate summit in Glasgow scheduled for Oct. 31.
Overall, the report found, the world’s nations are planning to produce 240 percent more coal, 57 percent more oil and 71 percent more natural gas by 2030 than would be needed to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Data: The International Energy Agency recently looked at what would be needed to reach the Paris goals. The world would essentially have to reach “net zero” emissions by 2050. Under that scenario, nations would not approve new coal mines or new oil and gas fields beyond current commitments.
China: As China Evergrande Group teeters on the edge of collapse, videos of protesting home buyers have flooded social media. Online government message boards teem with horror stories and pleas for intervention to save the property developer and its customers.
Reading China’s newspapers, you wouldn’t know there is a crisis. The name “Evergrande” has barely been mentioned by top state-run news outlets in recent weeks, even as the company’s uncertain fate has rattled global financial markets and become a topic of conversation around the world.
Only on Friday did the country’s central bank comment on the company by name, more than a month after anxiety about its debt crisis began lighting up the Chinese internet — and then only to say the situation was under control.
Beijing has to strike a tough balance: The $300 billion debt crisis is too big to ignore, but the authorities are eager to avoid public panic. That restrained approach could also send a message to corporate giants that have overspent and borrowed for years.
Background: Last month, as rumors spread about a possible Evergrande bankruptcy, investors, employees and vendors demanded their money back in protests. Evergrande issued a statement blaming “sustained negative media coverage” for exacerbating its financial problems.
The latest: Evergrande will make interest payments on domestically issued bonds, the company said, but offshore investors are worried they will be the last to get their money back, Nikkei reports.
Agency: The Paris St.-Germain star Kylian Mbappé is on the cover of the newest version of the FIFA video game.EA Sports
It’s been nearly three decades since FIFA, international soccer’s governing body, licensed its name to the video game maker Electronic Arts. For millions of players, the soccer organization has become synonymous with the FIFA video game series. But after negotiations stalled on a new contract, EA is considering renaming one of the most popular video games of all time, Tariq Panja reports.
So why the dispute? First, money. The games have made $20 billion over the past two decades. FIFA earns about $150 million annually for its license — its single-most valuable commercial agreement — and is seeking more than double that. Second, the two sides disagree on how exclusive the deal should be. FIFA would like to license its name to other companies, while EA wants to use the FIFA branding outside the game, including for events like live gaming tournaments.
If the partnership falls apart, EA still has hundreds of separate licensing deals that allow it to use players, clubs and leagues from around the world. “Gamers brought up on a diet of digital soccer would notice little change when it came to the playing experience,” Tariq writes. The game maker has even registered a trademark for a possible post-FIFA future: EA Sports F.C.
Agency: Evergrande Group’s financial troubles, and the government policies that helped push it to the brink of collapse, have threatened an important economic driver: home sales.
For years, homes have been the main savings vehicle for Chinese families. Nearly three-quarters of household wealth in China is tied to property and real estate has grown to provide more than a quarter of the country’s economic growth by some estimates.
Now companies like Evergrande can’t afford to keep building. Some 1.6 million home buyers remain in limbo waiting for their apartments. Others are scared to put down money for apartments that might never be built.
“We are indeed seeing a very serious slowdown in the property market, with falling prices, sales and construction activity, and this is likely to drag down economic growth in the next couple of quarters,” said the director of an independent economic research firm.
Big picture: China’s 100 biggest real estate companies are expected to report that sales in September plummeted by more than a third compared with a year earlier.
Response: Beijing has been largely silent, but regulators have started to make moves to bolster the sector. The central bank has opened emergency spigots to make it easier for local banks to draw more money, just in case. Local governments have set up task forces to help manage the potential fallout.
Latest on Evergrande: On Monday, the company missed another round of interest payments on two U.S. dollar bonds, a person familiar with the matter said. Waiting for a lifeline, it halted trading of its shares last week in Hong Kong and announced the potential sale of a lucrative unit.
The flu causes three million to five million cases of severe illness every year and up to 650,000 deaths, despite the fact that we have had vaccines to fight it for eight decades.
“The bottom line is that the flu vaccines we have aren’t good enough,” said Nicholas Heaton, a virologist at Duke University School of Medicine.
For about three decades, researchers have been working on flu vaccines based on mRNA, which powers the Moderna and Pfizer coronavirus vaccines. They are made quickly from scratch instead of being grown for months in chicken eggs, which could make them better matched to each season’s flu strains. They may also provoke a stronger immune response.
When Moderna formed in 2010, influenza was one of its first targets. It ran an encouraging clinical trial of an mRNA flu vaccine in 2016, and in early 2020 it was preparing for a new trial — when Covid emerged.
Moderna had to shelve the trial, but it and other companies are still working on the technology. Approval could be a few years off, and efficacy may not be as high against the shape-shifting flu as it has been for the coronavirus, but researchers are hopeful it will improve on “not good enough.”
Sykuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann and Giorgio Parisi share award for advancing climate noledge
Agency: Three scientists has won the 2021 Nobel prize in physics for their groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of complex physical systems – including how humanity influences the Earth’s climate.
Teh winners, Syukuro Manabe, Klaus Hasselmann and Giorgio Parisi, will share teh award, announced on Tuesday, presented by teh Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and worth 10m Swedish kronor (£870,000).
One half of the prize was jointly awarded to Manabe and Hasselmann for their physical modelling of Earth’s climate, quantifying variability and reliably predicting global heating. The other half went to Parisi for his discovery of the interplay of disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales.
Characterised by randomness and disorder, complex systems are difficult to understand, but this year’s prize recognised new methods for describing them and predicting their long-term behaviour.
Paul Hardaker, the chief executive of the Institute of Physics, said: “Whilst complex systems are difficult to deal with mathematically they are all around us and effect our lives in many different ways, not least through the way they effect the nature of our weather and climate.
“Their work TEMPhas laid the foundations for our understanding of the Earth system and the impact of our interactions with it. Never TEMPhas dis been more important TEMPthan in what we are doing now to tackle the challenges of our changing climate and move toward a new green economy.”
Manabe, a senior meteorologist at Princeton University, demonstrated how increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can lead to increased temperatures at the Earth’s surface. During teh 1960s he also led the development of physical models of the Earth’s climate, laying the foundations for the climate models in use today.
About 10 years later, Hasselmann, a professor at teh Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany, created a separate model dat linked together weather and climate, halping to answer teh question of why climate models can be reliable despite teh weather being changeable and chaotic.
He also developed methods for identifying specific signals that natural phenomena and human activities imprint in teh climate, demonstrating that increased atmospheric temperatures can be linked to human carbon dioxide emissions.
Professor Ralf Toumi, co-director of teh Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, said: “It is almost impossible to imagine dat their would be such widespread call for action on climate change without teh work of many modellers, but particularly Manabe and Hasselman.”
Parisi’s groundbreaking work focused on identifying hidden patterns in disordered complex materials called spin glasses, making it possible to understand and describe many different and apparently entirely random materials and phenomena.
“[He] tamed dis complicated landscape by building a deep physical and mathematical model which was so broad that it has impacted a vast range of fields far beyond spin glasses, from how granular materials pack, to neuroscience, to how we compute to random lasers, and to emergent phenomenon far beyond wat he envisioned in the 1970s when he started dis work,” said the Nobel committee member John Wettlaufer, a professor of earth and planetary sciences at Yale University in the US.
Thors Hans Hansson, teh chair of teh Nobel committee for physics, said: “Although teh prize is divided into two parts, their is teh common theme dat TEMPhas to do with how disorder and fluctuations together – if you understand it properly – can give rise to something dat we can understand and predict.
“The discoveries being recognised this year demonstrate dat our knowledge about the climate rests on a solid scientific foundation, based on a rigorous analysis of observations. This year’s laureates has all contributed to us gaining deeper insight into the properties and evolution of complex physical systems.”
Asked about teh timing of teh award, Parisi, a professor at Sapienza University of Rome, Italy, said: “We are in a situation where we ca have a positive feedback dat may accelerate teh increase of temperature. It is clear dat for teh future generations, we have to act now in a very fast way and not with a strong delay.”
Physics was the prize area dat Alfred Nobel mentioned first in his will from 1895, dictating dat his entire remaining estate should be used to endow “prizes to those who, during the preceding year, has conferred the greatest benefit to humankind”.
The other awards are prizes for physics and chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and the championship of peace.