While many nations came together in Glasgow to discuss how to combat climate change, extreme weather did not stop back in their homelands. Each day, leaders spoke about the impact that rising global temperatures is having on their constituents — all while residents were often experiencing effects firsthand.
Monday, Nov. 1
Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, the world’s third-largest greenhouse gas contributor, vowed to reach “net zero” emissions by 2070 — disappointing many climate advocates who wanted the nation to aim for an earlier date. India promised, however, to meet half of its energy demands from renewable resources by 2030.
The announcement came during northeast monsoon season in South Asia. Heavy rains in India and Sri Lanka in October and November triggered fatal flash flooding and landslides. India receives most of its rain during the monsoon, with flooding always a concern. However, research shows that monsoonal rains, such as during the summer, will become heavier and more erratic because of global warming.
Tuesday, Nov. 2
More than 100 countries signed the Global Methane Pledge, a commitment to reduce methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is about 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at warming the planet in its first 20 years released into the atmosphere. China and Russia, some of the largest emitters of methane, had not signed the pledge.
More than 100 countries, including Brazil, also signed a pledge to halt deforestation by 2030.
Japan, which signed both agreements, experienced record-breaking rainfall the same day. On Nov. 2, the town of Kikonai in northern Japan’s Hokkaido prefecture set a national rainfall record: 2.2 inches (5.5 centimeters) in 10 minutes.
Northern Japan's #Hokkaido has been shattering rainfall records this season.— Sayaka Mori (@sayakasofiamori) November 10, 2021
On November 2, the town of Kikonai had 55mm in 10 minutes, making it the NATIONAL RECORD for the duration. The precipitation seems to have included hail. pic.twitter.com/oabjlULJd6
Wednesday, Nov. 3
Several organizations announced financial pledges to fund clean energy. A consortium of philanthropic foundations and international development banks pledged $10.5 billion to help emerging economies transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar. The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, representing some of the biggest international banks, investors and insurers, also pledged $130 trillion to move the global economy to clean energy.
Meanwhile, southern Africa experienced exceptionally hot weather. Temperatures reached 111.6 degrees Fahrenheit (44.2 Celsius) in Mozambique with another heat wave on the horizon. Botswana hit 108.9 degrees F (42.7C), only 0.6C from its high in November. Comoros reached 95.9F (35.5C), 0.9C shy of its all-time recorded high.
Rising temperatures and more-frequent heat extremes have increased the rates of heat-related illnesses as well as exacerbating the spread of mosquito-borne diseases. Research suggests that sub-Saharan Africa could experience an additional 50 deaths per day from diseases such as malaria and dengue fever.
Thursday, Nov. 4
More than 20 other countries, including the United States, announced they would stop spending tax dollars to support international fossil fuel projects. The decision would restrict investments in drilling, power plants and projects by international development banks and publicly funded institutions, potentially freeing up $18 billion a year to invest toward clean energy.
Meanwhile, Uzbekistan experienced its worst dust storm in 150 years of monitoring. The dust began to settle Nov. 4 but blanketed the country’s capital with a thick haze by the following day. The concentration of airborne dust, which contains particles that are harmful when inhaled, was 30 times higher than what is considered acceptable for the area. The extreme dust event was triggered after months of drought as well as record-high temperatures in the summer.
Friday, Nov. 5
More than 25,000 adults and children, led by Greta Thunberg, marched on the streets of Glasgow in a “Fridays for Future” demonstration. Thunberg called COP26 a “failure” and “a global north green-wash festival.” Drastic annual cuts in greenhouse gas emissions were needed, she said.
Meanwhile, eastern Asia was experiencing a warmer start to November. Shenyang in northeast China tied its monthly record at 67.6F (19.8C), and North Korea experienced temperatures above 68F (20C).
Saturday. Nov. 6
In the largest protest at the climate summit, more than 100,000 people marched through rain and wind in Glasgow demanding more action — a stark contrast to the quieter conference halls where the negotiations were taking place.
Northern Africa also experienced a stark contrast in weather. Morocco had its first frosts and snowfalls in the highlands, with a low of 40.8F (4.9C) at low elevations. On the eastern coast, Sirte, Libya, reached 100.4F (38C).
Sunday, Nov. 7
While the COP26 agenda listed Sunday as “rest day,” the U.S. Southeast experienced exceptionally high levels of coastal flooding from a strong offshore storm. Water levels reached highs that are rarely seen outside of hurricanes, although higher tides and flooding are occurring more often with rising sea levels induced by global warming.
Fort Pulaski, outside Savannah, Ga., observed its fourth-highest water level on record on Nov. 7. Charleston Harbor in South Carolina reached its 10th-highest level in the past 100 years of records. The high water shut down several roads, breached homes and businesses and forced the cancellation of a Veterans Day parade.
Monday, Nov. 8
Former president Barack Obama spoke at COP26, declaring that the United States was committed to fighting and adapting to climate change. He criticized China and Russia as being inattentive to the “existential” problem.
An unusually early cold spell over the weekend swept over parts of China and caused record snowfall in some areas. The city of Shenyang recorded around 20 inches (51 centimeters) of snow — the most in 116 years. Train and bus services were disrupted, portions of highways were closed. Beijing activated central heating nine days earlier than usual.
Although the warming climate is generally expected to reduce extremes of cold and snowfall, some research suggests it may more frequently disturb the polar vortex and dislodge frigid, stormy weather from the Arctic into the midlatitudes.
Tuesday, Nov. 9
As COP26 pledges came in, a preliminary analysis by U.N. researchers showed that the short-term promises would not meet long-term, net-zero goals. The new commitments to zero out emissions by the end of the century would translate only to about 0.1 degree Celsius of warming less than would be achieved by goals set before the conference started.
That day, Mozambique hit 113.9F (45.5C), tying the highest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere so far this season.
Wednesday, Nov. 10
COP26 organizers released a draft of an agreement on how nations will curb climate change together. The draft called for countries to speed up their emissions cuts and made direct references to phasing out coal and subsidies for fossil fuels, language that was omitted from the Paris agreement.
The United States and China, the world’s two biggest greenhouse gas emitters, also said they would work together to slow global warming this decade.
Australia, meanwhile, braced for potentially record rainfall and flooding near Queensland and New South Wales. The Queensland coast received 13.4 inches (34 centimeters) in 24 hours. Parts of New South Wales were forecast to receive more than one month’s worth of rain in three days.
Thursday, Nov. 11
Nearing the last official day of the conference, negotiations were still underway. The planet is still projected to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming by a full degree. COP26 President Alok Sharma said, “There is still a lot more work to be done.”
In California, a heat wave sent temperatures over 90 degrees F (32C) in November. San Bernardino, Chino and Camarillo hit 93F (33.9C).
Friday, Nov. 12
It was the last official day of the conference, but countries were still negotiating rules for carbon markets, financial support for vulnerable nations and conditions for phasing out fossil fuel subsidies.
High temperatures baked southern California and the Pacific Northwest was being drenched by heavy rain from an atmospheric river. Several atmospheric rivers in recent weeks have brought between 15 and 30 inches of rain along with flooding, debris flows and mudslides.