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tv   PBS News Hour Weekend  PBS  October 31, 2021 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by wnet >> sreenivasan: on this edition for sunday, october 31: the g20 summit wraps up and the u.n. climate conference begins. a close race for governor in virginia raises the question, are red and blue walls a political myth? and britain makes a big investment in forests to help slow global warming. next on “pbs newshour weekend.” >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: sue and edgar wachenheim iii. bernard and denise swartz. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the anderson family fund. the estate of worthington mayo-smith. leonard and norma klorfine.
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the rosalind p. walter foundation. koo and patricia yuen, committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. barbara hope zuckerberg. we try to live in the moment, to not miss what's right in front of us. at mutual of america, we believe taking care of tomorrow can help you make the most of today. mutual of america financial group, retirement services and investments. >> for 25 years, consumer cellular has been offering no contract plans designed to help people do more of what they like. our u.s.-based customer service team can help find the plan that fits you. to learn more, visit additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the american people. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like
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you. thank you. >> sreenivasan: good evening and thank you for joining us. one global summit wrapped up as a second began today. in rome, leaders of the world's 20 wealthiest economies gathered virtually and in-person for a second and final day of the annual g-20 summit. after endorsing a landmark global minimum tax yesterday, key issues, such as covid-19 vaccines, global economic recovery, and climate change were on the table today. the leaders made headway on reducing a key carbon-producing energy source, agreeing to end public financing for coal-fired power plants abroad by the end of this year. but no targets were set for countries to ending coal use domestically. in the group's final statement it recognized the importance of reaching carbon neutrality “by or around mid-century,” but set no firm targets. the head of the environmental organization greenpeace international criticized the agreement as weak and not meeting the moment, as most of the leaders in rome head to scotland next to attend the united nations climate change
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conference. in glasgow, the conference known as cop26 officially got underway. delayed by one year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the conference brings together officials from over 200 countries who will negotiate and layout their plans for cutting carbon emissions to avert what has been called a climate catastrophe. scientists have warned that the goal of capping global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius-- or 2.7 fahrenheit-- this century compared to pre-industrial levels is slipping away. but in his opening speech today, the head of the cop26 summit remained optimistic. >> cop26 is our last best hope to keep 1.5 in reach. now, i know that we have an unprecedented negotiations agenda ahead of us, but i believe that this international system can deliver. it must deliver. >> sreenivasan: president joe biden will be in glasgow tomorrow. this afternoon he took questions from reporters.
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cop 26, the subsidization of coal. we made commitments here from across the board all of us, in terms of what we're going to bring to the g-26 and i think, you know, as an old saying goes, the proof of the putting will be in eating. we've made significant progress. >> sreenivasan: for more on what was accomplished on climate issues at the g20 and what's ahead at the u.n. conference, i spoke with somini sengupta, international climate reporter glasgow today.rk times," who is so, somini, what does it mean if the leaders of the g-20 say they are working towards this kind of 1.5-degree target, even though we kind of know we're past that the way that we're polluting today? >> it's an admission by the 20 biggest economies that the science points us to 1.5 degrees. as you point out, their own climate targets, they are what are called nationally determined contributions under the paris
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agreement, taken together, all countries around the world taken together, do not get us anywhere close to 1.5. the world is on a trajectory to warm much faster. and that, you know, lays out a pretty harrowing pathway of more heat waves, more wildfires, more extreme flooding. and the shortcoming of this g20-- there are many-- one of the shortcomings of this g20 communique is that it really doesn't lay down very many specifics. it does not commit these countries to updating their own climate targets, most importantly, which is what is necessary. they all need to update their own climate targets between now and 2030 in order for 1.5
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degrees to be within reach. >> sreenivasan: if the g20 countries were not able to make, kind of, firm commitments among themselves, what's the likelihood that they will in the next two weeks do something substantive or meaningful, especially for the poorer, smaller countries on the planet that are more affected by the policies shaped there? >> it's worth remembering that the lion's share of greenhouse gas emissions that are warming up the planet come from the group of 20. and so, any hope to stave off the worst effects of climate change rests in the hands of g20 leaders. they are very much under the spotlight, and their leaders, when they come up to make speeches over the next two days, will be under scrutiny by, i'm sure, their citizens at home and everyone else at the climate
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summit in glasgow. there still is ample opportunity for countries, for big, important countries, to ratchet up their climate ambition. there is also time, and this is going to be closely watched, what are the richest countries of the world, the countries of the global north that are responsible for the cumulative emissions, what financial commitments are they going to make in the coming days to help developing countries, emerging economies and poor countries make this enormous energy transition, one that would get them to really tamp down on burning fossil fuels and shift to renewable energy system it's an enormous transition, and money remains a big point of contention. >> sreenivasan: "new york times" international climate reporter
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somini sengupta, thanks so much. >> thank you. >> sreenivasan: in glasgow, protests were already underway as the u.n. climate summit began today. yesterday, activists from all over europe and the u.k. gathered and marched throu the city center. members of "extinction rebellion" and other environmental groups joined forces with religious organizations to demand action on climate change from world leaders. tens of thousands of activists are expected to hold demonstrations throughout the two week event. a day of action is set to be held all over the world next saturday. in the u.s. today, moderna announced that the food and drug administration will need more time to assess the company's covid-19 vaccine before approving its use for 12-17-year ol. and in new york city, a covid vaccine mandate for municipal workers may cause staffing shortages starting tomorrow. public employees, including police and firefighters, needed to reive at least one shot of a covid-19 vaccine by last friday. a last-minute surge shots drove up vaccination rates among city workers 7% between thursday and friday.
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but as of tomorrow, it's expected that more than 26,000 new york city public service workers will be on unpaid leave for refusing to comply with the city's mandate. hundreds of flights were cancelled in the u.s. this weekend due to weather conditions and staff shortages. according to the website,, the vast majority of cancellations were at american airlines, which cancelled more than 1,600 flights since friday. southwest airlines cancelled close to 300 flights this weekend. vaccine mandates for airline employees from both airline companies and the federal government have alsoparked protests from pilots and crew members. american airlines says it plans to bring on 2,400 new and returning flight attendants by the end of the year. for more national and international news, visit >> sreenivasan: on tuesday, voters will choose governors in new jersey and virginia and make decisions on hundreds of local issues including mayors in new
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york and boston. it's a very close race in virginia where democrat terry mcauliffe and republican glenn youngkin are running to replace the current democratic governor in what analysts consider a“ deep blue” state. so, would a republican victory spell impending doom for democrats in next year's midterms? or would a democratic victory mean former president trump has less influence than republicans seemingly count on? special correspondent jeff greenfield joins us now for a look at one of the enduring myths about current politics, the myth of “the wall.” annal l>> this very close race t virginia has in recent years become a reliably blue state. biden won it by ten points last year. virginia hasn't sent a republican into the senate since 2002, they chrome both houses of the state legislature. but if you look at history you might find when past may not be pro log, neighbor not in virginia and maybe nowhere else.
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when virginia voted >> when virginia voted for dwight eisenhower in 1952, it marked the beginning of an almost unbroken run of republican victories. for 36 years, only lyndon johnson's 1964 landslide broke the string; even southerners jimmy carter and bill clinton couldn't win there. but over time, a steady migration of college-educated white-collar voters moved into northern virginia, changing the demographics of the state. when barack obama comfortably won the state in 2008, it marked the beginning of an unbroken run of democratic wins. the “red wall” had crumbled. that's just one of a host of examples where the certainties of past election seasons erode and then vanish. california was once one of the most reliably republican states. from 1952 through 1988, it went to democrats only once in ten presidential elections; and put republicans into the statehouse and the u.s. senate regularly.
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then bill clinton won california in 1992, a shift away from republicans' anti-immigration views and an increase in liberal-minded, college-educated voters triggered a collapse of the republican party. hillary clinton carried the ate by more than four million votes; joe biden by more than five million votes. republicans do not hold a single statewide office. but the myth of the red and blue walls is bipartisan. throughout the 2016 campaign, democrats were confident that hillary clinton would prevail because of the “blue wall” in michigan, wisconsin, and pennsylvania. they had voted democratic for six straight elections. but that year, all three went to donald trump by narrow margins, helping him to win the white house. last year, biden won all three by narrow margins, making the blue wall there now, purple. >> sreenivasan: so, jeffwhat is threatening the wall in virginia?
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>> one of what's threatening is that it turns out there's another myth about politics that may be eroded the, tip o'neill's famous line that "all politics is local." well, education has become a big issue in virginia—- what, what's taught in schools—- that's part of a nationwide move about masks, about vaccines, about elites controlling lives. the other point is joe biden's approval ratings, which, according to "the washington post" this morning, wn to 42%, threatens enthusiasm and turnout among democrats. if there's a sense that they're not doing well, it means that what they need in terms of a large turnout on tuesday may not be forthcoming. >> sreenivasan: so, what about terry mcauliffe trying to make this almost a referendum on donald trump, the man who's already out of office. if terry mcauliffe loses, does this give donald trump and his supporters a little bit more ammunition to say maybe he should be the candidate in '24? >> that, in fact, is what mcauliffe is counting on. his basic argument is, you, if
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my opponent wins, it empowers the trumpists around the country, which is also why the republican candidate has been trying to do a kind of dance away and say nice things about trump, not appearing with him, and trying to make sure for suburban voters who've been turned off about trump, "i'm not him." so, that's another way that a national, a national issue, or a national matter comes in and tends to dominate a state race like virginia. >> sreenivasan: regardless of who wins, there is still history to be made here. >> as it turns out, both candidates for lieutenant governor reflect the kind of different kind of demographics in virginia. virginia will either elect an afro-latina woman or a black woman as lieutenant governor. that happens, by the way, that will happen 32 years after virginia became the first state to elect a black governor, doug wilder. so, there's a kind of almost a generation later, we're seeing another change in how our stereotypical view of virginia
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might need some editing. >> sreenivasan: jeff greenfield joining us from santa barbara, california, tonight. thanks so much. >> good to be with you, hari. >> sreenivasan: at the u.n. climate change conference in glasgow, one issue will dominate discussions: how to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to help slow global warming. one way is to cut emissions from the use of fossil fuels. but there ae also ways to reduce the c02 in the atmosphere called carbon capture, or carbon sequestration. trees do it naturally, and that's why deforestation has accelerated climate change and why scientists argue for rapid reforestation. newshour weekend special correspondent willem marx reports now on how the united kingdom is making a big investment in replanting its forests. this story is part of our ongoing series "peril & promise: the challenge of climate
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change." >> reporter: centuries of building towns and burning firewood has left the u.k. with far fewer forests than most other countries in europe. but this year, several massive effos are underway to help re- blanket britain with trees. through the work of civil servants, like jim lee, who drove us through his loc countryside in northumberland to visit a managed forest called slaley. >> we're the largest land manager in england. >> reporter: as head of woodland creation at forestry england, a government agency partially funded by taxpayers, he told us he wants to help rebuild hundreds of rural woodlands by planting 5,000 acres over the next five years. >> it's a relatively modest contribution from forestry england, but it lows us to start on that journey to be a serious force in woodland crtion in england. >> reporter: his group is just one of many here—- some public, some private—- working to expand carbon capture capacity by together planting an area the size of manhattan every ten
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weeks. big picture for people who don't know anything about the forestry industry in this country, how ambitious are these targets that have been set? >> hugely ambitious. you know, it's a 10 fold increase in woodland creation targets, really. and we've got a government which is foursquare behind that. >> reporter: is it achievable? >> it is. the offers that we have available are really revolutionizing, i think, the approach to woodland creation in this country. >> reporter: these new subsidy offers from the u.k. central government allow landowners that want to createew woodland to draw on almost a billion dollars of fresh funding. forestry england helps select, then support, suitable sites, leasing the land from owners in some cases, or else offering payments to plant trees rather than plough fields. the past few months, lee's helped sift through dozens of applications ranging from small local governments to large private landholders to see if they meet requirements. >> when we have these sites come
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through, we'll assess all of them, and we'll pick out those ones where we can make the most impact for nature recovery, and for carbon sequestration. >> reporter: this past august, laura redhead and paul mccabe won approval from forestry england for the city council where they work, which just a year earlier had decided to transform these 150 acres of fields into a forest. >> it's what needs to happen. it's part of the pathway to, you know, zero carbon, and it's an essential pathway. >> reporter: and the pair told us they're happy to have added the word “woodland” to their otherwise ordinary job titles. tractors have been driving into this field for decades, and they have been plowing and sowing here for centuries. but give it three months, and they'll be planting trees. give it three years there will be some 81,000 saplings here. give it three decades and this whole area will be forest. this wheat field turned woodland's new owner will be the ancient city of york, which declared a climate emergency in
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2019. paula widdowson is the city councilwoman responsible for environment. >> it will be a carbon sink. the posh word that everybody uses is carbon sequestration, but i can't spell that, so i prefer carbon sink. it's also massive on biodiversity, so the more plants we can get, the more animals we'll get, the more insects we get, the better it is. >> reporter: transforming a few fields will offset just a fraction of the city's carbon emissions, but widdowson says the project will encourage action elsewhere. >> on its own, york cannot prevent a climate crisis. if we wanted to mitigate everything that's going on, we would have to do 100 of these woods. so, we've done 1%. however, by putting it up, by making it happen, we've introduced people to the idea they can make a difference. >> reporter: but not all trees are created equal whent comes to carbon capture. so, as similar efforts scale up across britain, scientists are racing to understand the most
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effective forest combinations. >> if you want to change the way people understand, get rewarded, all the rest of it, you have to do like for like kind of comparison. >> reporter: hundreds of miles away in the hills of central wales, a non-profit called "the carbon community" hopes to identify this important data. founder charles nicholls showed us round the growing glyndwr forest, the largest tree carbon capture experiment in britain. >> it really started with a big idea, which is, could we make new forest creation, you know, fundamentally better at sequestering carbon. and if we could, then all of those national initiatives to plant, you know, so many thousands of acres, could be made dramatically more effective. >> reporter: more than 25,000 trees over 26 acres are split into eight treatment zones, with separate tree types and soil additions that allow scientists to monitor the carbon capture effectiveness of various combinations. >> you need to take multiple samples, you need to take them as a baseline before you plant and after you plant them several years on, et cetera.
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it is very expensive. you basically have to burn the sample in order to then understand how much energy is in it. and that will tell you how much, how much organic carbon is stored in the soil. >> reporter: elsewhere in wales, a carbon capture giant from california is capturing imaginations. >> wait, can i fill it in? >> let's do it together. >> reporter: like any other tree, the sequoia starts life as a tiny sapling. but unusually, it can grow to 250 feet tall, and lock up hundreds of tons of carbon dioxide over thousands of years. graham and angela bond are marking their 40th wedding anniversary by planting one together. >> in 3,000 years' time, it'll be in, hopefully, in the same spot. that's quite an emotional experience. >> reporter: recently recovered from surgery to remove a brain tumor, graham is celebrating life by offsetting a lifetime of carbon emissions. >> if one tree can soak up, what is it, 1,400 tons of carbon? it's an amazing thing the planet
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can do to replenish itself. >> reporter: for the legacy he's leaving on this hillside he has paid a for-profit enterprise about $700. >> i think you're in a good spot. >> reporter: henry emson runs this business, called "one life one tree," and says the price tag provides value for money. >> it's showing people there's something that they can do about their carbon footprint. for the price of half a mobile phone, managing to do something to take out your entire lifetime carbon footprint is an affordable price for the outcome. >> reporter: available land in britain is limited, and emson says this private project can complement other public programs. >> i don't imagine for a second that we should be covering the u.k. in sequoias. what i do think is that we need to think carefully about tree planting strategy for the purpose of addressing climate change. >> reporter: few countries on earth have enough free land for forests to offset all existing emissions, but for many, like britain, it's one of several tools that in combination could help them hit their net zero targets.
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>> this is pbs newshour weekend, sunday. >> sreenivasan: finally tonight, we frequently report on innovative solutions to the growing plastic pollution crisis around the globe. in the philippines, there is an ongoing recycling project aimed at turning plastic waste into much-needed building materials. the company is named the plastic flamingo, but everyone calls i“" the plaf.” >> ( translated ): our core mission is to tackle marine plastic pollution by collecting and recycling plastic waste into recyclable products. >> sreenivasan: employees collect plastic waste, shred it, and then mould iinto posts and planks called "eco-lumber." >> eco-lumber is 100% upcycled material, 100% made out of plastic waste materials, and we also include some additives and colorants, and this is rot-free, maintenance-free, splinter-free.
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>> sreenivasan: the material can be used for fencing, decking, or even to build disaster shelters. >> the shelters that we have built and created, we want to somehow give it a space and area for low-income communities, for people who have homes destructed by typhoons, and give these shelters as a place for them to stay. >> sreenivasan: the company says it has collected more than00 tons of recyclable materials since it started in 2019. >> because of the plastic problem we are currently facing, the pandemic, the huge accumulation of plastic use, there's also improper disposal. people are unaware on "how do i dispose of these plastics, where do i dispose of them?" so, at the same time we give that avenue also, that instead of putting it in landfills or oceans in general, you can give it to the plaf, you give it to recycling centers like us and we would recycle these, upcycle them into better products. >> sreenivasan: their goal is not only to succeed as a business, but also to help to turn the tide against plastic pollution.
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>> sreenivasan: that's all for this edition of “pbs newshour weekend.” for the latest news updates visit i'm hari sreenivasan. thanks for watching. stay healthy and have a good night. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: sue and edgar wachenheim iii. bernard and denise schwartz. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the anderson family fund. the estate of worthington mayo-smith. leonard and norma klorfine. the rosalind p. walter foundation. koo and patricia yuen, committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities.
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barbara hope zuckerberg. we try to live in the moment to not miss what's right in front of us. at mutual of america, we believe taking care of tomorrow can help you make the most of today. mutual of america financial group, retirement services and investments. additional support has been provided by: consumer cellular. and by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the american people. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. you're watching pbs.
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- there is quite simply no other place like it on earth. a small island country that has become a mecca for tourism and a top stop for landscape photographers. it is a place of extremes and natural beauty that left us mesmerized. it is a geologic shift or crack in the ground, and then a massive amount of glacial melt is just chugging off of that thing. this is iceland, a place where fire, ice, and a lot of wind have created a backdrop for adventure travel that we'll never forget. we wanted to vhe highlands of iceland, and that's a part of the country few travelers go to, because it's so brutal. zack allen and me both traveled to iceland on separate trips to capture this wild landscape in camera, and away from the crowds. - yeah, it's kind of tucked away, and it's it's hard to see what,


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