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Quest Means Business

Joe Biden Unveils Rules To Curb Methane Leaks In The U.S. Aired 3- 3:14p ET

Aired November 02, 2021 - 15:00   ET



ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS HOST: The Dow is heading for a fresh record close. Those are the markets and these are the main events.

World leaders have got deals in the bag at COP 26. The question is whether they're enough. U.S. President Biden is due to speak this hour.

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini are indicted for fraud in Switzerland.

And as Ethiopia declares a state of emergency, the U.S. warns it could be kicked out of a big trade program over the crisis in Tigray.

Live from New York, it is Tuesday, November the 2nd. I'm Alison Kosik, and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

Good evening. Tonight, the COP 26 Summit has produced two tangible commitments on methane gas and deforestation. Those measures won't be

enough to stave off the daunting threat of climate change.

This hour we are expecting a news conference from U.S. President Joe Biden. He is likely to face questions about whether global leaders at the U.N.

Climate Conference are making enough progress. All the while back in Washington, his climate agenda appears in trouble on Capitol Hill.

Earlier in Glasgow COP 26 got a morale boost when Biden unveiled tougher rules on methane emissions. U.S. oil and gas companies will now be required

to do a better job fixing leaks from their equipment. The rules are more strict than those put in place by Barack Obama and then scrapped by Donald


In reality, methane accounts for just 10 percent of U.S. greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide is the real offender. Around 100 countries have joined

Biden's global methane pledge.

One notable holdout is China, the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. Speaking to CNN, Tom Vilsack, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture says

the administration is looking for new ways to use excess methane.


TOM VILSACK, THE U.S. SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE: Well, there is a tremendous opportunity to convert methane into renewable energy and fuel.

We, at USDA are going to create the opportunity for large scale demonstration projects, the financing of anaerobic digesters to basically

deal with this issue.

There are also new and creative ways to use methane. We're taking a look at opportunities potentially, in concrete, for example, to replace the water

that is currently used in the development of concrete with methane.

So there are variety of ways in which innovation and technology can advance the President's goal.


KOSIK: Max Foster joins us now from Glasgow. Max, great to see you. You know, pledges, they've been made in the past by countries, unfortunately,

to little avail. So I'm wondering, first of all, what the climate goals agreed to today are all about and what's different now?

MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting to see that, you know, we're talking about -- you're talking about emissions

effectively, so cutting back on emissions and a big pledge from the United States.

But as you say, you know, you need that backed up by the likes of Russia and China as well. But at the same time, you've got this pledge on

deforestation, trying to end it effectively, amongst a hundred countries by 2030 and that's all about soaking up the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere

and trying to resolve that desperate situation.

And as you say, pledges have been made before, so a deforestation pledge in New York back in 2014. Very similar to this one, apart from you do have the

big players here involved.

Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, for example, and also a huge amount of money, $20 billion being pledged to help communities for example, who do rely on

illegal logging to survive.

So I spoke to the Colombian President today and he felt this was concrete action, as opposed to what we've seen before there is something different

here. And he said the money coming into places like Colombia, for example, is very important because those communities will now be supported.

So that's how we're looking this time, rather than blaming the developing world, working with the developed world, and also trying to break the link

interestingly as well in the products that are sold. Animal feed, for example, in the U.K. or the U.S., which does come from soya, which has

grown in areas that have been illegally logged, so trying to break that consumer connection as well and that's something that the Western countries

are responsible for, working with the developing nations so they do feel there's some progress here.


KOSIK: Max, what are some other takeaways you have so far from the conference?

FOSTER: Well, it's really that each country is having to come up with a set of pledges, which address the sort of things that they can do really

and the sort of -- the damage that carbon in the atmosphere does to their particular countries. And you really have to sort of tauter all that up at

the end of the COP conference and see whether they're really going to get anywhere near that 1.5 degree target currently heading towards an increase

of 2.7 degrees in the Post Industrial Age.

And, you know, what we've had over the last couple of days is the meat of it really, the world leaders coming up with these broad pledges, and then

over the next couple of weeks, we're going to see all the delegates trying to work through the detail.

As you say, I don't think you know, there's a huge amount of doubt about all of these pledges and whether or not they're going to be followed

through, but there does seem to be some real momentum here. Will it be enough for 1.5 percent? I think that's really where the doubt sets in.

KOSIK: Okay, Max Foster, great reporting. Thanks.

And we will get to President Joe Biden when he speaks. We will take that live.

The methane pledge was an early political win for the Climate Summit and its host, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The Prime Minister spoke

exclusively to CNN's Christiane Amanpour after issuing a stark warning about the climate crisis Monday. He said, "The Summit is inching towards

progress." He says, "It's now up to leaders to follow through."


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We have to before we claim that things are getting better or that we're making progress, we have to be

humble in the face of the scale of the problem we have. This problem is huge.

I'll be starting to inch forward at COP. Yes, I think that, arguably, we are, and I think that in some important ways, you're seeing some good

commitments on trees today on forest, which is very important for tackling climate change.

You're seeing some important contributions on accelerating the move away from coal. You heard a big announcement from Japan today about money to get

to be a motley's point. Now, we've got until the middle of the month. We have got less than two weeks to go. How much more progress can we make?

And that's the issue, and everybody knows what we have to achieve. Everybody knows that we have to do enough, we have to commit enough to

reducing CO2 output, through reducing coal use, through stopping vehicular emissions from cars, planting more trees, funding new technology around the

world. We have to have a program that will enable us to say that we've kept alive the goal of only increasing temperatures by 1.5 degrees.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: So will you then -- because, you know, clearly, I ask all the leaders who I talk to, well, what

are you doing to show that you're credible, and that your nation is credible in these pledges and it's not just rhetoric, that it's reality.

So as you know better than I do, there are coal fields plant for -- coal digging plant for Cumbria, in this country. And would you say that at this

point, given everything you're saying to me now, you would intervene to stop that?

JOHNSON: I don't have the legal power. THAT'S something for local planning.

AMANPOUR: But local planning has already ruled on it. It's come back to the government.

JOHNSON: What we are already saying, and if you look at what has already happened in the U.K. is we have moved away from coal at extraordinary



KOSIK: Boris Johnson gets at the crux of the issue there, industrialized nations, which built their wealthy economies on the back of dirty fossil

fuels are now ready to get off of them. But the developing world says it still must rely on coal power.

South Africa is one of the world's heaviest polluters per capita. Now the U.S., U.K., France, Germany and, the E.U. are all promising money to help

it develop cleaner alternatives.

David McKenzie in Ermelo in South Africa.


MCKENZIE (voice over): Treacherous steps into the blackness with illegal miners.

MCKENZIE (on camera): So we're going deep into this mine, it's a disused mine. But coal is so important in this country, that even the old mines,

people will go down like this in dangerous conditions and get what they can.

MCKENZIE (voice over): What Anthony Bonginkosi can get, just $3.00 for a bag of coal to support his grandmother and sister.

Here, they work with little ventilation or light. If they get trapped, no one will come to help.


ANTHONY BONGINKOSI, ARTISANAL MINER: We have lost a lot of them, others with the collapse of the mine; others with the gasses that came


MCKENZIE (on camera): That's dangerous work.

BONGINKOSI: Yes. When you inhale that gas, you won't even walk even 50 steps or 10 steps, you just collapse. You can't wake up.

MCKENZIE: Why do you still do it?

BONGINKOSI: I don't have a choice because I have to save my hunger. And not only me, those who follow me, I may die alone here. But what about

those who are depending on me?

MCKENZIE (voice over): South Africa is a country dependent on coal with hundreds of thousands of jobs linked to these mines and its monopoly power

utility and shaky economy almost entirely anchored on coal-fired plants.

ESKOM is one of Africa's biggest polluters, but it's all relative.

MCKENZIE (on camera): South Africa has contributed very little historically to emissions that have caused climate change. Why move away

from coal at all?

ANDRE DE RUYTER, GROUP CHIEF EXECUTIVE, ESKOM: You know, there's this saying that the Stone Age didn't in because of a lack of stones, and I'm

convinced that given current technological gains, the coal age won't end because of a lack of coal.

MCKENZIE (voice over): To avoid a climate catastrophe, climate scientists say the renewable age needs to be pushed by the entire world even by

countries like South Africa that contributes around just one percent of annual emissions globally.

DE RUYTER: Eskom has made a decision not anymore --

MCKENZIE (voice over): To commit to the transition, ESKOM says it will shut down aging coal plants like Komati.

MCKENZIE (on camera): What will it mean when the last month monitor goes off for you?

MARCUS NEMADODZI, KOMATI GM: Man, it's sad, and also an opportunity, so I will be ready when that happens.

MCKENZIE (voice over): But the move to renewables takes time and costs money, $50 billion to $60 billion in South Africa alone says ESKOM.

NEMADODZI: So this will become useless.

MCKENZIE (voice over): So rich countries will need to finance the transition as part of their climate commitments, despite ESKOM's mountains

of debt and history of corruption allegations.

DE RUYTER: I think it's not only realistic, it's an imperative. If you look at the position that South Africa unfortunately occupies, given our

size for South Africa to be the 12th largest carbon emitter in the world, we I think, are a poster child of what needs to be done in order to

transition away from coal to more sustainable forms of electricity generation.

MCKENZIE (on camera): Saying that maybe South Africa needs to stop using coal.


MCKENZIE (on camera): Because of climate change.


MCKENZIE: What do you think about that?

BONGINKOSI: Sure. Sure. What can I say about that? It makes me scared just because of we have a lot of people who depend on the coal. So, we can't

live without it.

MCKENZIE (voice over): David McKenzie, CNN, Ermelo, South Africa.


KOSIK: COP 26 got a second wind when more than 100 nations including China signed on to protect the world's forests.

Together, the countries account for 85 percent of the world's forests. Their pledge is non-binding, but the goals are to end deforestation which

kicks carbon into the air by 2030. Realistically, even if the agreement is followed through, it's just a drop in the bucket.

Deforestation only accounts for 11 percent of carbon emissions. The energy sector is by far the largest source, more than 70 percent.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was at the Summit earlier today.

Let's go to President Joe Biden for his news conference.