Oct 25, 2021 - Energy & Environment

What we’re watching during the final countdown to COP26

A globe clock.
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

This is shaping up as a critical week for climate policy in the U.S. and worldwide.

Driving the news: Democrats are in the final stages of trying to craft the big social spending and climate package they're trying to move on a thread-the-needle party-line vote.

Why it matters: There's connective tissue between the two.

  • The scope of the Democrats' deal — if there's one to be made — will help dictate U.S. credibility at the global talks that rest a lot on mutual trust.
  • And even beyond that, a number of key countries' plans and negotiating posture at the summit, called COP26, remain unknown.

What we're watching: The negotiating frenzy as advocates press for climate measures to survive in the Democrats' package, which is being scaled far back their initial $3.5 trillion catch-all plan.

  • One thing to watch: what might replace a $150 billion system of carrots and sticks for utilities to speed clean power deployment that Democrats jettisoned due to Sen. Joe Manchin's (D-W.Va) opposition.

On the international front, we've got our eye on...

  • Whether China, the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter, will unveil an updated emissions-cutting pledge ahead of the talks, and what it will contain. India, the world's third-larger emitter, also has not submitted an updated pledge.
  • Whether wealthy nations reach an agreement on how to finally deliver on unfulfilled promises to provide $100 billion annually to help developing nations cut emissions and adapt to warming. A deal could reportedly surface as soon as today, but the details will be closely scrutinized by developing nations.
  • Whether G20 nations meeting in Rome just ahead of COP26 can reach an agreement on commitments to phase out coal-fired power — and if so, whether it's specific. Potential language on deforestation is also on the table.

Go deeper: What to know about COP26

Go deeper