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Protests erupt at the COP26 climate summit

Yahoo Finance's Akiko Fujita reporting from the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow where protesters have turned up the intensity on world leaders

Video Transcript

JARED BLIKRE: One week into the UN Climate Change conference, special envoy John Kerry says there is, quote, genuine progress being made. Kerry's comments came on a day focused on the youth movement, with thousands of activists marching through the streets of Glasgow calling for change. Akiko Fujita now joins us from COP26 in Glasgow. And Akiko, what are you making of Kerry's comments here?

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah Jared, well, we're exactly at the halfway mark of COP26. And this first week has really been dominated by a slew of bold promises and initiatives that countries have made to try and slash the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. But we got a bit of a reality check from special envoy of climate, John Kerry, who said, look, even if all of the promises that were made this week, all of the promises the country's leaders have made, all of those were met, global warming would still be kept at 1.8 degrees Celsius.

Now, that is significant progress from where we were before, but it's still well short of that 1 and 1/2 degrees that climate scientists say is necessary to cap global warming at to avert the worst possible scenario of a climate crisis. John Kerry, though, today maintained significant progress has been made in speaking to reporters earlier today.

JOHN KERRY: There's a greater sense of focus, and I have never in the first few days of any of the COPs I've been to counted as many initiative-- as many initiatives, and as much real money, real money, being put on the table. The fact is that in the first budget cycle the president has available to him, he's put in for the money, $11.4 billion.

AKIKO FUJITA: Now, inside the exhibition center today, the focus really was on the youth movement. And we heard from a number of youth activists who addressed world leaders directly, urging them to act quickly, saying that our future is in your hands. But outside of the exhibition center is really where the action was. We saw thousands of protesters marched through the streets of Glasgow demanding change.

And I want to see if we can roll that video there, because it was a pretty significant sight here, starting at a park, going straight into the city council in Glasgow. And those activists really calling specifically for change. We heard from a number of them. One saying that, I don't think the world leaders actually care, because they don't understand the effects of them. You know, the thinking here really has been that this generation is the one that has to shoulder the cost of climate change.

You look at the world leaders today, if we're talking about 30 years from now, they're going to be long gone from those posts, which is why we've seen so many young activists really step up here in Glasgow, and march through the streets. We are expecting another big protest tomorrow as well as the focus shifts to the second week of the conference. Back to you.

- And then, Akiko, I'm just wondering your time there, are these activists in the minority? Have you seen a general exuberance and enthusiasm for what they're trying to achieve? Just in your own experience. And then touch on what we can expect to see in the coming week as well, if you will, please.

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah. I would characterize the mood as cautious optimism. The promises are certainly, if you just look at the headlines, more significant than what we have heard from world leaders before. But there's a lot of questions about how, in fact, any progress can be measured. If you think about the pledges that have been made, they're not necessarily binding. Countries aren't going to face fines, per se, if, in fact, they don't meet those goals.

And then some would argue, look, we have heard these promises before. In terms of the youth activists, I would argue there is a real generational divide. Because the thinking is that these teenagers, those in their early 20s, well, they're the ones that are going to have to see the worst of the crisis if world leaders don't act right away. As we look ahead to next week, this is kind of where the real negotiations start.

The first week was all about the world leaders, these very public bold statements. Next week is when we start to see the real details get hammered out. And what we're looking for is something called nationally determined contributions. This is when countries are going to set their targets to be in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. We've heard that 1 and 1/2 degree temperature over, and over, and over, but climate scientists say that really is the key here to avert a full-blown crisis.

And I should point out, we've got a lot of lawmakers coming in from the US, full court press if you will, 50 members of Congress expected to pass through here to try and pressure other countries to get on board with some of the targets that the Biden administration has set.

JARED BLIKRE: Well, we thank you for that report, Akiko, and for all the reports this week. Look forward to seeing you back in the anchor chair very soon.