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Israeli Ground Forces Target Hamas Command Center in Gaza Hospital; Chinese President Xi Jinping's Visit to U.S. Underway; Ukrainian Troops Secure Foothold in Eastern Bank of Dnieper River; Israel Allows Limited Fuel Supply into Gaza for U.N. Distribution; Protests in Israel for the Release of Hostages; Massive Pro-Israel Protest in Washington D.C. Thousands Gather in D.C. to Show Solidarity with Israel; U.N. Report: World's Emissions Goals 'Wildly Off-Track'. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired November 15, 2023 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Coming up on CNN, Israeli ground forces begin what they say are targeted operations at the biggest hospital in Gaza in search of a Hamas command centre believed to be under the sprawling medical centre. The unprecedented, intricate, almost fanatical, detailed planning by Chinese officials had a Xi Jinping's visit to the U.S. for talks with President Joe Biden. And whatever we're doing on climate change is not enough. Planet-warming carbon emissions should be falling by now, but instead continue to rise.
Just hours ago, Israeli forces began what they describe as a precise and targeted operation against Hamas militants at the biggest hospital in Gaza. According to both Israeli and U.S. officials, Hamas has a command centre under the Al-Shifa Hospital, and Hamas militants are believed to be hiding among hundreds of patients, as well as thousands of displaced Palestinians seeking safety and shelter within the grounds of the medical centre.
According to a local journalist, Israeli tanks entered hospital grounds with gun barrels aimed at buildings. There was also an exchange of gunfire. The hospital is no longer operational after generators shut down because of a lack of fuel. Hamas denies it has a command centre below the hospital, a denial supported by doctors at Al-Shifa, as well as administrators. And a short time ago, a statement from Hamas blamed the U.S. for the siege.
It reads in part, the White House and the Pentagon's adoption of the false Israeli narrative, claiming that the resistance is using Al- Shifa Medical Complex for military purposes was a green light for the occupation to commit more massacres against civilians. And now, more than two weeks into the Israeli ground offensive, the IDF claims to have the upper hand in northern Gaza.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YOAV GALLANT, ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER: I can tell you that in the northern Gaza Strip, Hamas lost control. And in fact, we control the entire upper and central area in northern Gaza Strip, especially in Gaza City.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Now to Tel Aviv, Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces. Peter, thank you for being with us. I want to start with the operation ongoing in the Shifa Hospital. Which part of the hospital is being targeted by Israeli forces right now? Are those operations ongoing?
LT. COL PETER LERNER, IDF SPOKESPERSON: Good morning from Tel Aviv, John. Indeed, day 40 of our war against Hamas, a war that we didn't want, a war that resulted in more than 1,200 Israeli deaths, and till today, 240 Israelis and foreign nationals held hostage. Our operation that was launched in the early hours of this morning in the area of Shifa Hospital is precise, located at specific location within the hospital grounds, within the complex of the hospital. And indeed, it was based on operational necessity and intelligence. The operation is ongoing. I won't go into specifics of where or how the activities are ongoing, but I can confirm it is ongoing, John.
VAUSE: At this point, is there any information on what these soldiers may have found, any resistance they may have encountered so far during this operation?
LERNER: I'd rather wait until we can conclude what has actually happened. The information will be coming out throughout the course of the day. The reality is one that is dynamic. I can say that there has been more efforts to relieve and to bring more humanitarian aid by the IDF to the hospital, and this is part of the operation that is taking place as well because there are civilians there. And we're operating in order to distinguish between the civilians and Hamas, the Hamas terrorists that are hiding and taking refuge, perhaps beneath the complex.
It's the reality of this conflict. John, the Hamas have embedded their efforts, their infrastructure, all in the civilian arena. And as you showed extensively yesterday in the case of the Rantisi Hospital, they have no limits and there are no red lines for them. So, we're operating, we're intending on continuing our operations, and this is what we're doing this morning.
VAUSE: Can you confirm that before this operation began, the IDF made contact with hospital administrators and doctors there and possibly officials with the Ministry of Health in Gaza advising ahead of time that Israeli soldiers would soon enter the hospital?
LERNER: Absolutely, we work on the basis of international humanitarian law and the laws of armed conflict and when making -- approaching the hospital we indeed informed the administrators to keep away from the windows to make sure that the patients and civilians inside the complex keep away from the windows and take cover because we intend on conducting our military operation in order to differentiate and distinguish between the civilians and the terrorists.
So yes, we made a call, we informed them that this is going to happen but it is a part of the operation and over the course of the last few weeks and we talked about it extensively yesterday, we are trying to and we have been trying to evacuate as many people as we can from the hospital and the hospital grounds itself in order to enable us to confront Hamas and continue our goals of this war of destructing and dismantling Hamas as a governing authority in the Gaza Strip.
You know, they have utilized all of the tools of government in order to build their terrorist army, in order to build their network of tunnels and this is why we need to operate against Hamas unfortunately in Shifa.
VAUSE: You mentioned humanitarian supplies being brought to the hospital, I imagine that includes fuel, do you know if that's actually reached where it needs to go to those generators which have run dry? Also, it appears that there is an agreement for UN aid distribution trucks to be refueled in the southern part of Gaza, what are those details?
LERNER: Yeah, I'm aware of the reports of the refueling of the UN trucks, and we will be making an announcement as soon as that is finalized. These reports are important for the humanitarian mission to continue to operate and, of course, that is why we're continuing our relations, our ongoing open channels with the various international humanitarian organizations operating in Gaza. It is essential for the services of and distribution of aid, of medical aid and food stuff.
I -- The supplies being brought to Shifa are, I think we will see incubators, this is something we've been trying to coordinate for a couple of days now, I reported about yesterday and also medical supplies I expect and perhaps some food as well, food supplies also to the hospital. Yeah, this is part of the operation that is ongoing and we'll have to see how that develops as well.
VAUSE: Peter Lerner, Lieutenant Colonel there with the IDF, thank you sir, appreciate your time. This is now day 40 of Israel's war with Hamas, the devastating and unprecedented Israeli military offensive by air, sea and land in response to unprecedented brutal and deadly terrorist attack by Hamas Jihadis on Israel.
Forty days which has left much of Gaza in ruins, 40 days which have taken so many lives, lives which had barely begun. The children in Gaza, babies both newborn and premature, so many either dead or wounded, families and medical staff left helpless to do anything. CNN's Nada Bashir has more on the dire situation facing children within Gaza and a warning, her story contains some graphic images.
NADA BASHIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL REPORTER (voice-over): How do you begin to explain the nightmares of this war to these children? Injured, distraught, now grieving, the lifeless body of little Hamud cradled in the arms of his father, killed in a strike on the northern Jabalia camp. In the central region of Deir el-Balah, yet more goodbyes, yet more children killed. The wounded rushed to a hospital already on the brink of collapse. Struck, they say, as they attempted to evacuate southwards.
HASAN BAKER, INJURED RESIDENT: What did our children do to deserve this? Were they carrying weapons? Were they confronting the tanks? No, we are civilians. We were trying to move from one place to another. We were following the orders of the occupation forces.
BASHIR: In the north, there is now just one hospital left operational, the rest paralyzed by shortages in fuel, medication and essential supplies. With each passing day at the Al - Shifa hospital, Gaza's largest, there are more bodies. But there is no more space in the hospital's morgues.
DR. AHMED EL MOKHALLALATI, SENIOR PLASTIC SURGEON AT AL SHIFA HOSPITAL: Today, there was an incident by the civilians within the hospital. They are sitting within the hospital to bury the bodies on their own responsibilities without any arrangements by the Israeli side.
BASHIR: With no oxygen supplies left in the hospital, doctors at Al - Shifa have been forced to remove premature babies from their incubators. The cries of Gaza's most vulnerable, huddled together, wrapped in foil and blankets to keep them warm.
BASHIR: The Israeli military says it has offered to provide al-Shifa with more incubators and support with evacuating children, but no details have been shared as to how an evacuation plan could proceed.
DR. MUHAMMAD QANDIL, AL NASSER HOSPITAL DIRECTOR OF EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT: So, basic requirement for Shifa Hospital, Indonesian hospital operation, like fuel, medical supply, safe inlet and exit are urgently required.
BASHIR: Israel has long held that Hamas has positioned a command-and- control centre beneath the al-Shifa hospital, a claim now echoed by U.S. officials. CNN is unable to verify this allegation, which has been staunchly denied by both Hamas and medical officials on the ground, many doctors expressing alarm over suggestions that hospitals could now be considered targets.
UNKNOWN: Medical staff from Doctors Without Borders saying Tuesday that bullets were fired into one of three MSF premises near al-Shifa, with intense fighting in the vicinity.
BASHIR: The Israeli military says it has allowed an evacuation route from the hospital. But medical staff say it is near impossible to safely evacuate patients and civilians amid ongoing bombardment.
NEBAL FARSAAKH, PALESTONE RED CRESCENT SOCIETY SPOKESPERSON: We have received hundreds of calls for people crying while they are trapped in their homes in Gaza City and the north. They are unable to evacuate their homes because the whole area is, there is a military operation, and simply anyone who tries to go out will be a target for Israeli militaries.
BASHIR: Many patients are simply too sick to embark on the long and dangerous walk to southern Gaza, some, like this toddler, even dying on the way. But even in the south, in areas outlined as so-called safe zones by the Israeli military, deadly airstrikes continue. Family members and medical staff standing shoulder to shoulder for funeral prayers. For many in Gaza, now a daily ritual. Nada Bashir, CNN, in Jerusalem.
VAUSE: On Tuesday, the leaders of Israel and the U.S. discussed efforts to secure the release of hostages held in Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he's working relentlessly to bring them home and believes extra pressure from the Israeli ground incursion is helping move talks in the right direction.
U.S. President Joe Biden says he believes the deal is going to happen but did not provide any details. Officials warn the negotiations are volatile and could still break down. Families of many of the hostages have embarked on a 5-day march which started in Tel Aviv Tuesday. They're demanding the Israeli government do more to secure the release of their loved ones. To Jerusalem now, Gershon Baskin, the hostage negotiator who secured the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who was held hostage by Hamas for 5 years. It's great to have you with us. Thank you for taking the time.
GERSHON BASKIN, MIDDLE EAST DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITIES ORGANISATION: Good morning.
Expectations of a hostage deal have been building over the past 24 hours, maybe the past few days. Not least because of recent comments from U.S. President Joe Biden like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNKNOWN: What's your message to the families?
JOESEPH BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hang in there. We're coming.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Hang in there. We're coming. So, President Biden also said a deal was going to happen but gave no details. So, a deal may be near, but it comes with this Israeli ground offensive which is underway. How much does that complicate these talks and how close do you think a deal actually might be?
BASKIN: It's very difficult to determine how close we are to a deal. Obviously, the longer they're talking, the more intensive the talks are, the more secret they are, and all leaks about talks are generally noise and impacting the talks themselves, putting pressure on the negotiators and the mediators to bring about a talk. There's no doubt that with the Israeli ground operation moving further south and into areas that are very sensitive like the hospital, make the deal more difficult to reach even though the Israelis believe that this puts more pressure on Hamas.
There could be a breaking point. We don't know. Where Hamas says no deal, Hamas is demanding a ceasefire. A ceasefire is very complicated for Israel to accept because it will require a redeployment of troops that are already deep inside Gaza City and around Gaza City and moving south. There's no guarantee that once Israel declares ceasefire that Hamas will stop shooting. And a lot of logistics are involved in making this hostage deal happen on the ground in terms of putting in the International Red Cross to receive the hostages, to check and make sure that they are all hostages, that their names and conditions are provided in advance.
And should Hamas be demanding a release of prisoners from Israel, that list will also have to be checked and verified by third parties like the Red Cross, like the Egyptian intelligence. It will take a few days to work out all of these details once they have an agreement and they probably don't have a full agreement yet on the deal.
VAUSE: So, in terms of what a deal may look like, CNN is reporting this and like you said, it just is leaks coming from these negotiations, but the broad parameters that are currently being discussed entail Hamas releasing a large group of hostages at the same time Israel frees Palestinian prisoners.
The hostages for prisoners exchange would take place in the course of a sustained, days-long pause in fighting that could last as long as 5 days, but many details including the duration of the pause remain in flux, which goes to your point. From your early contact with Hamas in the days after October 7, is that the sort of deal you think they would be looking for? And at this point, is it the duration of the pause in fighting which is most likely to be the biggest sticking point here?
BASKIN: There are 2 main sticking points. One is we do believe that the deal is probably going to be women, children and elderly. The obvious swap for prisoners are women prisoners and minors in Israeli prison. There are 43 women and about 190 people under the age of 18. Hamas is apparently, from what we've heard, demanding that other terrorists be released, people who have killed Israelis. That's a sticking point for Israel and will be difficult to do.
And the other, of course, is the prolonged release of the hostages. Hamas would seek to extend the ceasefire time in order to build up international pressure on Israel not to renew its war efforts and not to complete the -- mission of dismantling Hamas's ability to govern in Gaza. That's what Hamas would be seeking. And of course, Israel is seeking the exact opposite, to have the deal done in 1 batch of swaps and to end the ceasefire as soon as possible.
VAUSE: Right now, these talks essentially go from Hamas to Qatar. Then the Qataris speak with the U.S. and the Israeli officials. Why can't Israel and Hamas just talk to one another directly just in this instance?
BASKIN: Well, that's a great question. That's what I was able to do in the deal for the release of Gilad Shalit back in 2011, is that there was a direct authorized back channel between me and a member of Hamas. As a non-official Israeli, Hamas was willing to speak to me. As a non- official Israeli, the government of Israel was willing to speak to me. So, we set up a direct channel that linked to the people who were holding the Gilad Shalit at that time. This is a lot more complicated. Now we're dealing with a lot more hostages, and there's an active war going on -- on the ground.
I think you also have to remember that the Egyptians are involved, and the Egyptian intelligence do have direct contact with the Hamas leadership underground in Gaza, who are the decision-makers here. The Egyptian intelligence also speaks directly to the Islamic Jihad. So, there's definitely an advantage of using the Egyptian channel. We understand that the head of the Israeli Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency, was in Cairo over the last days, probably turning up the pressure on the Egyptian channel as well as the ongoing talks in Qatar.
VAUSE: Gershon Baskin, it is indeed a complicated, it is a difficult negotiation, clearly, and it is going to go on for some time. And time is something that is running fast, running out.
VAUSE: Thank you for being with us, sir. We appreciate your time. Thank you. Thank you. With that, we'll take a short break. When we come back, China's president is now in California ahead of his summit with President Joe Biden. Already, it seems, U.S. officials are managing expectations.
VAUSE: According to a senior Ukrainian official, Ukrainian troop have secured a foothold in the eastern bank of the Dnieper River, considered to be an important advancement in the southern Kherson region, a key frontline between Russian and Ukrainian forces. It's the first time there has been acknowledgement that Ukrainian troops have been able to sustain a presence in that region. Russia withdrew its forces from the west side of the river a year ago, a major setback for the Kremlin. But until now, Ukraine's counteroffensive has only made incremental gains. New UN report.
Actually, we're going to the US and Chinese presidents. We'll be face- to-face in the coming hours in a high-stakes summit which follows months of tensions. Xi Jinping touched down in San Francisco just a few hours ago. He'll be meeting with Joe Biden in the Bay Area where they're attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum. This is Xi's first visit to the US in more than 6 years. President Biden says he's looking to improve ties with China during their sit-down and the two countries can begin regular communications.
The US has been working to restore military communications with China since last year after Beijing cut off contact following a visit to Taiwan by the former US House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOW: How would you define success with your meeting with President Xi?
BIDEN: To get back on a normal course of corresponding, being able to pick up the phone and talk to one another if there's a crisis, being able to make sure our militaries still have contact with one another. We can't take, as I told you, we're not trying to decouple from China, but what we're trying to do is change the relationship for the better.
(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Live now to Hong Kong, CNN's Kristie Lu Stout is with us. So, I guess, you know, just as these two leaders, so mano-mano sort of, you know, in this meeting, it's been a while since they've seen each other. What exactly are the key points here? What should we be looking out for? Sort of, you know, what's the body language and the statements that should come after all this?
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, this is very important as it is a mano-a-mano, as you put it, person-to-person, leader-to-leader engagement. And this is a clear sign that Biden and Xi want to manage their complicated relationship. You know, on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden, Chinese leader Xi Jinping, will be meeting on the sidelines of the APEC summit in the San Francisco Bay Area. This will be their first face-to-face meeting in a year. This will also be only the second such meeting since Biden took office back in January of 2021.
Now, Xi arrived on Tuesday. He was greeted on the tarmac in San Francisco by the California state governor, Gavin Newsom, by the US Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, as well as China's ambassador to the US, Xi Feng. And ahead of the summit, both nations agreed to tackle global warming by ramping up renewables, sort of a positive starter ahead of this big meeting. And on Tuesday, we also heard from the US president saying that he's looking to normalize communication. He also says that the US doesn't want to decouple from China. It wants to improve the economic relationship.
Now, Xi is also expected, while he is in the Bay Area, to dine with US business executives on Wednesday. Now, a top agenda item for these 2 leaders is restoring high-level military communication, which was cut off after then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan last year.
And the US is also seeking action on fentanyl. Fentanyl precursor chemicals had been traced to companies based in China. Now, over the last year, tensions have been high between these two powers over fentanyl, over the Chinese spy balloon, over Taiwan, over the South China Sea, et cetera, as well as economic issues like trade and access to sensitive technology. And when Biden and Xi meet, US officials also say that global issues will also loom large.
Of course, including the Israel-Hamas war, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine and North Korea and its links to Russia. And one more thing, John. We're also looking for any sign that China plans to end its more than four-year freeze on 737 MAX purchases, which, if that happens, that would be a big breakthrough for Boeing. Back to you, John.
VAUSE: Kristie, thank you. Next hour, hopefully, we can get into the details and the intricate planning for Xi Jinping's visit. But good to see you. Thank you for your time. It's good to come here on CNN. Thousands have rallied in the U.S. capital on behalf of Israel. In a moment, we'll have details of what they want. (COMMERICAL BREAK)
VAUSE: For the first time since October 7, Israel is set to allow fuel into Gaza, a limited supply for U.N. distribution trucks, which will be available at the Rafah crossing. The U.N. has complained that their operations are being ground to a standstill because of a lack of fuel. And the Israelis have refused to allow fuel supplies into Gaza because of fears it is being hoarded by Hamas. The U.N. and others have been outspoken and have demanded this fuel for the distribution as well as for hospitals to allow their aid operations to continue.
Meantime, in Israel, the calls are growing ever louder to secure the release of hundreds of hostages taken by Hamas during the October 7 attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Hundreds of those, of the families of those being held captive, began a five-day march in Tel Aviv Tuesday, demanding the government do more to bring the hostages home. They plan to march to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem.
UNKNOWN: We're marching to the Prime Minister to shout to him that we need them home now.
UNKNOWN: We have to do everything; our government has to do everything to release them. Otherwise, we will be a mentally wounded country.
VAUSE: This was the scene in Washington as tens of thousands of protesters gathered on the National Mall to show solidarity with Israel. It's believed to be the largest pro-Israel protest in the U.S. since the war began. CNN's Brian Todd was there.
BRAIN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A show of support growing tens of thousands in Washington, including lawmakers from both parties.
REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): The survival of the state of Israel and her people unites us together, and it unites all Americans.
TODD (voice-over): A rally to support Israel at a time of war.
ERIC FINGERHUT, JEWISH FEDERATIONS OF NORTH AMERICA: We support Israel's fight to rid itself of the terror threat and restore safety and security to its people.
TODD (voice-over): And to push for the release of hostages held by Hamas. The mother of hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin pressing for action.
RACHEL GOLDBERG, SON KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: Why is the world accepting that 240 human beings from almost 30 countries have been stolen and buried alive?
TODD (voice-over): Shaked Haran has seven family members who've been kidnapped, including a 3-year-old niece.
SHAKED HARAN, SEVEN FAMILY MEMBERS KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: I don't know if anyone is holding her hand, is keeping her warm. We don't know anything.
TODD (voice-over): She came here from Israel, worried that the public's attention is focusing elsewhere.
HARAN: People are talking about ceasefire, about a pause, but they're not talking about the hostages.
TODD (voice-over): The rally also focused on countering antisemitism amid a spike in incidents at college campuses and elsewhere.
TOVAH FELDSHUH, ACTRESS: College and university presidents, if you remain weak, if you remain silent, you are complicit.
TODD (voice-over): Political graffiti against Israel was found at the rally site on Tuesday morning.
ARI MOSKOWITZ, RALLY ATTENDEE: What scares me now is what I'm seeing, the antisemitism I'm seeing in the U.S. Seeing that out in the open is -- is really terrifying. So, it's also good to be here with people to -- in solidarity.
TODD (voice-over): At the rally, calls for action against hate.
DEBRA MESSING, ACTRESS: Like our ancestors, who, for 3,000 years, looked hate straight in the eyes, we too, will prevail.
TODD (voice-over): Tight security in D.C., with roadblocks and checkpoints, with rallies to support Israel dueling with rallies to support Palestinians in a battle to win over public opinion.
MOSKOWITZ: I support everybody's right to protest. I just wish that people would come at it from a perspective of peace and coexistence.
TODD: Several people we spoke to here said they hoped there was an understanding that a rally in support of Israel was not a rally against Palestinians.
One of the speakers, Alana Zeitchik, who's related to six hostages being held by Hamas, told the crowd that the simple fact is that you don't have to choose. That you can abhor the suffering of Palestinian families and abhor the suffering of Israeli families like hers.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Coming up here on CNN, the gap between what we're doing and what we need to be doing on climate change is growing into a chasm. Even so, a new U.N. report has a glimmer of hope, and we'll tell you what that is in a moment.
VAUSE: With a nearby volcano possibly set to erupt at any time, officials in Iceland have again ordered people to evacuate the town of Grindavik on the country's Southern peninsula.
Authorities insist this is not an emergency evacuation, but increased levels of sulfur dioxide are being detected in the air. Apparently.
Grindavik had already been ordered to evacuate Saturday, but on Monday, some residents were allowed to return to gather belongings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of panic, a lot of emotional distress and so, people didn't think, really, much about what they needed or just wanted to get out of there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I survived three volcanoes before, and this is the biggest one, so, as you can see.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you scared of the eruption?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, of course. That's why we escape from our town.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Preparations are underway to build a protective trench around a geothermal power plant close to the site of the possible volcanic eruption. The plant provides power and hot water to around 30,000 people in the area.
A new U.N. report says the world is not doing nearly enough or moving quickly enough to keep a life-threatening level of climate change at bay.
The report finds that, even if countries meet their climate pledges in 2030, there will still be 9 percent more planet-heating pollution than in 2010, almost 9 percent more carbon emissions.
It says current goals are not nearly enough to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
And the U.S. has given its own assessment, with a sweeping new report warning, even though the U.S. is slowly decreasing its climate-warming pollutions, i.e., carbon emissions, it's not happening quickly enough to make the country's targets.
And it says the effects of climate change are visible and are being felt in every part of the country.
U.S. President Joe Biden says it's time to act fast.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- shows us, in clear scientific terms, that climate change is impacting all regions, all sectors of the United States. Not just some, all.
It shows that communities across America are taking more action than ever to reduce climate risk. It warns that more action is still badly needed.
We can't be complacent. Let me say it again. We can't be complacent. We have to keep going.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Leah Stokes is a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, focusing on public policy, public opinion and political behavior, in the context of energy, environment, as well as climate change.
It's good to see you. Been a while.
LEAH STOKES, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA BARBARA: Oh, thanks so much for having me on.
VAUSE: Well, you're always welcome.
Here's the bottom line from this latest report, which we've received. Even if countries enact all their current climate pledges, planet- heating pollution in 2030 will still be 9 percent higher than it was in 2010.
So, if that ends up happening, what does that actually mean for the planet's climate in terms of temperature, storms, ice melt, sea levels? So what does it look like, and what are the chances that it's going to be 9 percent or even higher?
STOKES: Yes, so, the fact is that we have been digging up fossil fuels and burning them for over a century, now. And all of that fossil fuel burning, that combustion, is putting large amounts of CO2, carbon pollution into our atmosphere, into our oceans, and it's already having devastating effects. Right?
We see that in hurricanes, in drought, in flooding, all these horrific disasters really across the world at this point. And so, you know, we have to stop burning fossil fuels as soon as possible.
But even if we do that, the fact is that our procrastination for decades is going to have consequences. We can see that in the wildfires, for example, that ripped across Canada this year, leading to massive air pollution across the Northeast United States.
You know, every -- every year that we delay really cutting fossil fuels back, you know, the more we're going to pay for that in 2030, in 2040, in 2050.
Because the earth's system is kind of a slow-moving tanker, right? It's like an ocean tanker. And to turn it around is going to take some time.
So the system will keep reacting to all that pollution that we've pumped out, even if that happened decades earlier.
VAUSE: The executive secretary of the U.N.'s Convention on Climate Change posted on X, "Today's report shows that governments combined are taking baby steps to avert the climate crisis. Emissions need to be cut 43 percent by 2030 to limit global warming to that magic number of 1.5 degrees Celsius."
Normally, I'm the doomsday guy, but there does seem to be a glimmer of hope in all of these numbers, given that the upward growth of carbon emissions, while it continues, it slowed and could soon peak, and projections show that emissions in 2030 will be 2 percent lower than they were in 2019, 3 percent lower than the estimated levels for 2025.
So, if baby steps result in small improvements and we know that now. Giant steps, then, what, result in gigantic, big improvements?
STOKES: Absolutely. You know, this can all feel overwhelming, right? A lot of numbers, these really doomsday scenarios, but the fact is that what you really need to understand is that we have the technologies we need to solve this problem.
We have electric vehicles, right? We have heat pumps to heat our homes, to heat our hot-water systems. We have solar panels. We have batteries. We have wind turbines.
There are so many things that we can deploy at a massive pace that we haven't been doing fast enough. But if we do that, we don't have to rely on fossil fuels.
You know, I've been working on climate change for about 20 years now, and in the early days, when we talked about these things, which you know, wasn't even really the early days, compared to scientists who go back, really, decades, people didn't necessarily know what exactly the solutions are. Right? Oh, we're supposed to change our lightbulbs or something like that.
Well, that isn't the case anymore. We have the technologies we need. And so, all we have to do is deploy them very quickly so that we can get off fossil fuels as fast as possible.
VAUSE: And in the U.S., the National Climate Association was released on Tuesday. It reached similar findings that the United States and other major polluters need to do more to cut carbon emissions. And here's one key finding: "For every 1 degree Fahrenheit that the
planet warms, the U.S. economy's growth each year is 0.13 percentage points slower than it would be otherwise. The report finds a seemingly small effect that can add up over decades to a sizable amount of forgone prosperity."
So, if the threat climate change poses to almost every aspect of our very life, of our way of life, for many others, a threat to their very survival, surely the economic argument for reducing carbon emissions is compelling, as well.
So at this point, who is favor -- who's in favor of pumping out more carbon emissions?
STOKES: Yes. It's everything you just said, John. The reality is that burning fossil fuels, leading to climate change, is bad for the economy. It's bad for people's health and wellbeing. You know, it's not a good thing to do.
So, why do we keep doing it? Well, fossil fuel companies profit off of delay. Every year that we procrastinate and don't start moving to clean electric technologies is a year that those companies make profits.
In the last few years, they've actually made record profits like they never have before, because oil prices and gas prices have been so high.
And so staying on this fossil fuel trajectory is in the interest of a small number of people who are burning up the planet just so that they can continue to make profits.
VAUSE: Leah, it is good to have you with us. Thanks so much for the explanation. We really appreciate it. Leah Stokes, associate professor at the University of California. Appreciate your time. Thank you.
STOKES: Thanks for having me on.
VAUSE: Thank you for watching. I'm John Vause, back at the top of the hour with more CNN NEWSROOM, but first, a short break. And then, WORLD SPORT. See you back here in 17 minutes.