Fresh Energy at the Global Climate Summit in Glasgow

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Bookmark this page for real-time updates from J. as COP26 kicks off in Glasgow on October 31!

Live Updates

November 17, 2021 | Nearly 70 people joined us virtually for our “Debriefing COP26 with J. Drake Hamilton” webinar event.

From late October through early November, almost 200 countries came together in Glasgow for the global climate summit, or COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Fresh Energy’s Senior Science Policy Director J. Drake Hamilton attended the summit and shared real time updates on the Fresh Energy blog. Sit down with J. and the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Pat Hamilton to get their take on everything that happened at the summit and what it means for the U.S. moving forward.

Prefer an audio version? Listen to the recording of this webinar on Fresh Energy’s podcast, Decarbonize: The Clean Energy Podcast.

November 9, 2021 | J. Drake Hamilton meets with U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry at COP26.

It was my honor on Tuesday, November 9, to be invited to be one of a group of less than 100 people to meet with U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry at the Bloomberg Green Summit at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, where he was speaking about the future of climate diplomacy. I last met with John Kerry in December 2015, along with a small group of 12 people during the last days of finalizing the Paris Agreement at COP21 in Paris. Today, I had the best seat in a small room.

U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry speaks at the Bloomberg Green Summit at COP26 in Glasgow. Photo/J. Drake Hamilton.

John Kerry was in remarkably good spirits, despite the hustle and bustle of a global event like COP26 which leaves many attendees with little sleep. His mind is razor sharp, and he continues to be a brilliant negotiator and well-spoken man, with a great sense of humor. He began the interview by stating the top goal of COP26, which is to prevent the Earth from warming 2.7 degrees Celsius or higher. The Earth is warming as we speak and will continue to do so. But what is absolutely critical is to prevent warming beyond 2.7 degrees Celsius, as this level of warming would cause catastrophic damage to humans and our environments.  

Here’s the good news: Before the global climate summit began, the world was headed toward 2.7 degrees Celsius of warming. Since then, we have seen many new Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the methane pledge, and Brazil along with more than 100 other world leaders promised to both end and reverse deforestation by 2030.   

If all global leaders did what they promised to do in their more ambitious NDCs and other commitments so far at COP26, according to the International Energy Agency, the world would be on a trajectory toward 1.8 degrees Celsius of warming. That is not good enough, as we want to aim for warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius maximum, but is considerably more ambitious than anything that was on the table even 10 days ago. Kerry reminded the group that not all ambitious plans need to be finalized in Glasgow. Indeed, after the global climate is complete on November 12, the U.S. and other countries will continue encouraging every nation to make more ambitious commitments for climate action. 

While Kerry highlighted his conversation with India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who wants to manufacture solar panels in India and add 450 Megawatts of renewable energy, he emphasized the high points beyond country-specific commitments too. Although key commitments from individual countries and multinational corporations are crucial to driving success, global compacts are just as important.  

In his talk, Kerry focused considerably on the methane pledge of the United States and 107 other nations, to reduce methane emissions 30 percent by 2030. Scientists have made clear that instead of merely a 30 percent reduction in methane emissions, we ultimately need to achieve 45 percent reductions. However, the 30 percent pledge will be like taking all emissions from cars, trucks, ships, and planes to zero percent emissions—a considerable effort and a fantastic first step. 

Asked about the future of coal plants in the United States, John Kerry described the massive transformation away from coal in our nation in the last 10 years. Kerry stated: “By 2030 in the United States we won’t have coal plants.” He spoke of the pressing requirement for the U.S. Congress to pass the reconciliation bill in the next few weeks, widely known as the Build Back Better Act. Successfully passing this legislation would result in the United States’ biggest effort in history to fund the clean energy transition. 

Overall, our U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry believes this global climate summit has been the most stunning climate solutions revolution since the Industrial Revolution. He noted, however, that investment money for a just clean energy transition is still sorely lacking, agreeing with experts in the U.S. who assert that the world needs between $2.6 to $4.6 trillion in investment per year—and that we need the private sector to come forward with this big investment. In his closing remarks to the audience, Kerry said: “Human beings created this problem, so human beings can solve it.”  

Curious what other commitments were made at COP26? I’ve been tracking everything that’s happening here in Glasgow and will be hosting a free post-COP26 webinar next week on November 17 at noon Central to discuss the details. Register to join us!

November 8, 2021 | Bold, Ambitious Actions in the Midwestern U.S. event at the COP26 Pathways to 1.5 Pavilion, hosted by Climate Action Reserve and The Climate Registry.

If it were an independent country, the American Midwest would be the sixth largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. Thus, the Midwest is critical to U.S. ambitions to reduce carbon emissions 50-52 percent by 2030. Speakers at this event highlighted bold, ambitious actions that various Midwestern states and/or cities are taking to cut emissions in the cultural sector, pass historic climate legislation, and provide innovative and equitable nation-leading clean energy policies. Watch the video recording!

November 8, 2021 | The Vital Importance of Rapid Decarbonization in the American Midwest event at the U.S. Climate Action Center, sponsored by America Is All In, at COP26.

At this session in the U.S. Climate Action Center sponsored by America Is All In, at COP26 in Glasgow, Fresh Energy’s J. Drake Hamilton and other Midwest leaders highlighted very encouraging trends for emissions reductions across the Midwest, as well as steps that have been and should be taken to accelerate this encouraging climate action. Watch the video recording!

November 5, 2021 | Dispatch from U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm’s talk about climate and clean energy innovation.

Secretary Granholm spoke this afternoon to a crowd of climate and clean energy leaders about how, under her team’s leadership, her Department of Energy is a “Climate Solutions Department.” Sitting just two rows from the podium, watching Secretary Granholm speak, I feel energized for what is yet to come at COP26.

I know I speak for all my colleagues at Fresh Energy and our partners across Minnesota, the Midwest, and beyond when I say I am grateful to be joined in this climate solutions work by so many strong leaders who are working to ensure the climate action we take today not only works for everyone, but works for everyone for generations to come. Onward!

November 4, 2021 | J. Drake Hamilton interviewed for MPR News Climate Cast podcast with chief meteorologist Paul Huttner.

World leaders are meeting in Glasgow this week for the COP26 climate talks. But they aren’t the only ones. Minnesotans and other Midwesterners are also here, which makes a lot of sense when you think about this quote from my interview with MPR News’ Paul Huttner, on the Climate Cast podcast: “If the Midwest were to be an independent country, it would be the sixth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. Sixth.” Want to hear more? Tune into the latest episode of Climate Cast to catch my conversation with Paul!

October 20, 2021 | J. Drake Hamilton hosts pre-COP26 webinar.

Get the inside scoop! In this episode of Decarbonize: The Clean Energy Podcast, J. discusses what she’s anticipating from the global climate summit, COP26, the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. J. also explains why we need federal climate leadership paired with state and local climate action and details some of the local leaders and Minnesota-based businesses helping lead the clean energy charge in our state and beyond.

Decarbonize: The Clean Energy Podcast can be streamed online here, or you can find it on your favorite podcasting app.