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Cop26 Live Updates: Biden to Announce Methane Goals in Glasgow

From left, Israel’s prime minister, Naftali Bennett, President Joe Biden and Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, chat as they attend an evening reception to mark the opening day of the COP26 summit in Glasgow.Credit…Pool Photo by Alberto Pezzali

Day 1 of the international summit once described as the “last best hope” to slow climate change brought few actual commitments to slow climate change.

Leaders of two of the world’s biggest polluters, China and Russia, did not attend in person. The U.S. president came with a large delegation and a large promise to reduce U.S. emissions, but was unable to show the world he could deliver concrete legislation to achieve those cuts. India announced ambitious new targets to expand renewable energy, though nothing about how soon it would retire its vast network of coal-burning power plants.

On Tuesday, Day 2, the Biden administration will unfurl a long list of climate initiatives, designed to show the world that the administration can take action even when there is no consensus in Congress. The most significant announcement will be plans to heavily regulate methane, a potent greenhouse gas that can warm the atmosphere 80 times faster than carbon dioxide in the short term and one that is produced by oil and natural gas operations.

But the most striking feature so far of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, known as COP26, has been anger, and more of it is expected on Tuesday.

There was barely contained rage at the podium Monday, especially from leaders of some of the smallest, most vulnerable countries in the world.

There was unbridled rage outside. Youth climate activists responded to speeches inside with chants of “No more blah blah blah.”

Mr. Biden spent much of Monday talking up his “build back better” climate and social policy proposals. But in the face of congressional opposition, his administration has abandoned the centerpiece policy of that bill, a measure that would incentivize the power sector to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy. It pulled back because of objections by Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a state that’s heavily reliant on coal. Even a much pared-down version of the president’s plan is in jeopardy.

Tensions over money will continue to sharpen through the week. Poorer countries will demand more aid from wealthier ones whose emissions are principally responsible for temperature rises so far.

India called for a $1 trillion commitment from wealthy countries to help developing nations make the transition to renewable energy. Small island nations threatened by sea level rise petitioned an international court to force the richest parts of the world to pay them damages.

But trees will get a break — in the future. By Tuesday morning, more than 100 countries that contain the large majority of the world’s forests will promise to halt deforestation by 2030.

But for all the promises and plans made so far, none of the leaders present dared to claim it was nearly enough.

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