COP26 summit nears conclusion after surprise U.S.-China pledge to tackle climate change

The coverage on this live blog is now over.

International lawmakers, business leaders and activists convened in Glasgow, U.K. on Thursday in the final days of the COP26 climate summit.

Delegates have been asked to accelerate action on climate change and commit to more ambitious cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, all in an effort to limit global temperature rises.

Here are some of the biggest developments Thursday:

10:50 a.m.: Carbon tax would help level the playing field for companies, Skanska EVP says

Carbon tax needed to level playing field: Skanska EVP

Lena Hok, executive vice president for sustainability and innovation at construction firm Skanska, told CNBC earlier on Thursday that a carbon tax would help "level the playing field for all companies."

"So we are amongst the companies that would embrace clarity, as well as how to do carbon pricing and carbon taxes at a global trade," she said.

10:15 a.m.: COP26 pledges could bring world 9% closer to 1.5 degree goal, Climate Action Tracker says

The key pledges announced at the COP26 climate summit could bring the world 9% closer to achieving the 1.5 degree Celsius global warming target by 2030, independent research group Climate Action Tracker has said.

In an analysis, published Thursday, CAT said that sectoral goals on methane, coal, transport and deforestation, proposed at the climate conference in Glasgow could cut the equivalent of 2.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide.

However, CAT said that even with all the new climate pledges, global emissions were expected to be "almost twice as high in 2030 as necessary for a 1.5°C compatible pathway."

On Tuesday, CAT warned global warming was on track to hit 2.4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, despite 2030 targets.

Vicky McKeever

8:55 a.m.: Countries join alliance to stop drilling for oil

A libyan security member walks by an oil drill on March 23, 2013 at the al-Ghani oil field.
Abdullah Doma | AFP | Getty Images

The Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, an initiative founded by Denmark and Costa Rica aimed at phasing out oil and gas production, has been formalized at COP26.

France, Greenland, Ireland, Sweden and Wales joined the alliance as full members on Thursday, while Portugal, New Zealand and Italy joined as lower tier members.

But some of the world's biggest drillers of oil — the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Russia, Canada and China — did not sign up to join the group. However, the U.S. state of California and Canadian province Quebec did become members.

The U.K., which is hosting COP26 and calling on world leaders to be ambitious with their promises at the summit, also opted not to join the alliance.

— Chloe Taylor

7:51 a.m.: Allegations of anti-green plotting ‘a lie,’ Saudi energy minister says

Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman al Saud has denounced rumors that the oil-rich nation has been trying to sabotage international efforts to go green.

"What you have been hearing is a false allegation, and a cheat and a lie," he told reporters at COP26.

Documents leaked to Greenpeace's Unearthed last month showed that leading fossil fuel producers, including Australia, Saudi Arabia and OPEC, had been lobbying the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to change its stance on the need for a rapid global phase out of fossil fuels.

— Chloe Taylor

7:42 a.m.: Still a big mountain to climb — but world leaders must be ambitious, COP26 president says

U.K. lawmaker Alok Sharma, who is serving as president of COP26, has told CNBC world leaders must be ambitious as negotiations at the summit draw to a close.

"Progress has been made but there's still a pretty big mountain to climb," Sharma said. "We've got 48 hours … and we're getting to that point where the rubber is at the road and we need to make sure we do our best to get this one over the line."

Sharma added: "World leaders came here at the start and said they wanted an ambitious outcome, that's what we all need to drive towards."

World leaders must be ambitious, COP26 president says

6:47 a.m.: U.S.-China emissions deal will boost COP26 negotiations, UK’s Johnson says

The U.S. and China's surprise agreement on cutting carbon emissions is a boost to ongoing talks at COP26, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.

Ministers representing the world's two biggest polluters unveiled the U.S.-China Joint Glasgow Declaration on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s on Wednesday.

4:43 a.m.: Banks and boards could be climate litigation targets

Financial institutions and individual board members could be the next targets of climate litigation cases, according to the campaigners who helped to secure a landmark courtroom victory against oil giant Royal Dutch Shell.

"We have litigated against countries and been successful," said Roger Cox, lawyer for Milieudefensie, an environmental campaign group and the Dutch branch of Friends of the Earth. "Now we have shown that one can successfully litigate against fossil fuel corporations and I think that the next step is to start also litigating against financial institutions who make these emissions and fossil fuel projects possible."

"I even think after that … board members of these large private institutions who continue to willingly frustrate achieving the Paris Agreement might even become liable in years to come under direct liability regulations," Cox said on Tuesday.

The Hague District Court on May. 26 ordered the Anglo-Dutch oil giant to reduce its global carbon emissions by 45% by the end of 2030, compared with 2019 levels, marking the first time in history that a company had been legally obliged to align its policies with the Paris Agreement.

— Sam Meredith

02:03 a.m.: What's on the agenda Thursday?

China's special climate envoy, Xie Zhenhua speaks during a joint China and U.S. statement on a declaration enhancing climate action in the 2020's on day eleven of the COP26 climate change conference at the SEC on November 10, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Jeff J Mitchell | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The COP26 summit is entering its final few days with the closure of negotiations beginning on Friday and winding down on Saturday.

Delegates and activists will be digesting the surprise pledge from China and the U.S., the world's biggest carbon polluters, to increase cooperation on climate action.

China's climate envoy Xie Zhenhua told reporters on Wednesday that the two countries had struck an agreement that calls for "concrete and pragmatic" regulations in decarbonization, reducing methane emissions and fighting deforestation, Xie said, according to Reuters.

The U.S.' Climate Envoy John Kerry commented that the declaration is a "step in the right direction."

The summit's focus on Thursday will be on 'Cities, Regions and Built Environment' and looking to advance climate "action in the places we live, from communities, through to cities and regions," COP26's organizers say.

— Holly Ellyatt