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Climate change trade wars

The COP26 climate summit in Glasgow is almost done and dusted, with some ambitious commitments and breakthroughs from governments and corporations to more aggressively tackle the climate disaster. Yet, though there seems to be broad agreement on what needs to be done to stop the planet getting hotter — like getting to Net Zero emissions over the next few decades — big disagreements remain on how to pull it off.

As countries try to turn jobs green while also boosting exports to keep foreign cash flowing in, reliance on protectionist economic policies is becoming an increasing point of friction between governments. Here are two juicy examples where this dynamic is playing out.

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Net zero emissions by 2050 "lacks sense of urgency" — Suntory CEO

Like many other big corporations, Japanese brewer and distiller Suntory want to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. But that's not enough for CEO Tak Niinami. "It's far away and lacks the sense of urgency," he says. Niinami predicts that especially after COP26 people will be wary of greenwashing, so it's essential for corporations to "to be transparent, showing society what we are doing and how much progress we are making" on climate.

Suntory CEO Tak Niinami spoke during the first of a two-part Sustainability Leaders Summit livestream conversation sponsored by Suntory. Watch here.

What We're Watching: American missile defense, Chilean impeachment scandal

The US ups its missile defense game. Israel has used for years a precise missile defense system — known as the Iron Dome — as a bulwark against short-range rocket attacks from terror groups. In recent weeks, the US has been using the same technology — jointly developed by Israeli and American defense contractors — in the US Pacific territory of Guam to test its own defense capabilities against Chinese weapons, according to the Wall Street Journal. This comes after Beijing, as part of a military drill, recently sent sophisticated hypersonic missiles into space that could reach Guam, about 1,800 miles from mainland China. The Pentagon is not messing around in anticipating potential threats from Beijing right now as bilateral tensions continue to rise. However, the DOD says this tech isn't a long-term fix because Iron Dome isn't meant to be used to thwart cruise missiles, which are capable of transporting a nuclear warhead long distances. Meanwhile, the US military has requested more than $200 million to develop a new missile defense system for Guam, but Congress has yet to deliver.

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Want to land a "green job? 3 tips from LinkedIn

Upgrading your resume with some "green" skills to get a job in the future low-carbon economy? First, think long-term because whatever's good for you will be good for the planet, says Sue Duke, vice president and head of public policy at LinkedIn. Second, get training that aligns with your company's climate targets, and third, expand your network to make it "greener." Watch her interview with Tony Maciulis, chief content officer at GZERO Media, during the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

"What's it worth to save everything we have?" asks climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe

Why do governments and corporations set Net Zero goals when the science just says to just cut emissions ASAP? For atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe, Chief Scientist at The Nature Conservancy and Director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University., it's too easy for humans to procrastinate on doing stuff 30 or 40 years from now. That's why she says we need more near-term goals with "everything on the table," given what's really at risk is not the planet — but rather us. "So the question is not, 'Could we possibly spend too much trying to fix climate change?' No. The question is, 'What's it worth to save everything we have?'"

The “bad guys” at COP26

Everyone understands that burning fossil fuels contributes directly to global warming. We all know that we have to reduce oil and gas consumption to avert the worst effects of climate change. And we're well aware that this is a major focus at COP26 right now.

But spare a thought for those who are often portrayed as the bad guys in all of this: the countries that pump and export hydrocarbons like mad. And they do it not because they hate polar bears, but rather because oil and gas exports are crucial for their economies, their geopolitical power, or in some cases their very survival.

Let's have a look at the tradeoffs that a few exemplary exporters are dealing with.

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What We're Watching: Global methane pledge, Africa at COP26

The methane reduction club: It's easy to be cynical about the tokenistic gestures and subpar commitments being made (by some) at COP26. But there are also some crucial developments coming out of the meeting. Over 90 countries have signed onto a US/EU-sponsored pledge to reduce methane emissions by 30 percent compared to 2020 levels by the end of the decade. Though methane is not as rife as carbon, it is way more potent in warming the planet. The Global Methane Pledge now includes commitments from half of the world's top methane emitters, but not the top three: China, Russia, and India. Still, the pledge, which requires states to fix oil and gas leaks as well as reduce methane emissions from agriculture through alternative maintenance schemes, is a big deal because over a century, methane could be up to 34 times as warming as carbon dioxide. The Biden administration, for its part, says that tackling methane emissions buys more time to deal with the climate crisis, and that the Environmental Protection Agency will soon require US states to reduce methane emissions at sources including 300,000 oil and gas sites – many of which are in red states that might not be super cooperative.

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The Graphic Truth: Net Zero — What are the top polluters promising?

Fighting climate change is about making the planet get less hot. The more quickly countries slow down their carbon emissions, the faster that'll happen. All the more important for the nations that pollute the most — but not all have committed to the same timeline. China and more recently Russia have pledged to go Net Zero by 2060, a decade later than the US and the EU. India, for its part, announced at COP26 that it'll follow suit by 2070, the last of the world's top 10 polluters to clean up its carbon act. We take a look at when the world's top carbon-spewing economies intend to go carbon-neutral, compared with their share of global emissions, of renewable energy as a source of electricity, and percentage of global coal consumption.

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