Lauren Sommer

World leaders signed off on a new climate change agreement after two weeks of intense negotiations in Glasgow, Scotland. While some countries committed to more ambitious cuts to heat-trapping pollution, many nations did not agree to rein in emissions fast enough for the world to avoid the worst damage from climate-driven storms, heat waves and droughts.

As the United Nations climate summit enters its last hours, there is modest progress on reducing reliance on fossil fuels and giving aid to countries most at risk from extreme weather. But stubborn divisions over the details of key issues remain.

In what would be a first in decades of such negotiations, nations could call for an end to using coal and subsidizing fossil fuels. Despite some weaker language, those two elements remain in the most recent draft being circulated for consensus agreement among the more than 100 participating countries.

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley wants richer countries to stop throwing garbage in her yard and then telling her to clean it up.

The garbage, in this case, is greenhouse gas emissions that fuel more extreme storms and hurricanes, causing widespread destruction which can cost billions of dollars. At the Glasgow climate negotiations, Mottley is leading a push for richer countries to compensate poorer ones for the "loss and damage" caused by climate change.

At a small house outside of Nairobi, Kenya, a big event took place on a late October afternoon — one that also has big repercussions for climate change. Winifred Mumbua Muisyo got electricity at her home for the first time.

An installer from the solar company d.light climbed onto her metal roof and attached a small solar panel. He then began connecting the appliances that come with it: several lights, a phone charger and a small television.

There's one number heard more than any other from the podiums at the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland: 1.5 degrees Celsius.

That's the global climate change goal world leaders agreed to strive for. By limiting the planet's warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, by 2100, the hope is to stave off severe climate disruptions that could exacerbate hunger, conflict and drought worldwide.

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There's one number you hear a lot at the international climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: One-point-five degrees.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: To just 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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At 22 years old, Hilda Flavia Nakabuye stepped onto a very big stage. The audience was filled with hundreds of international delegates attending the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference, where countries were hashing out efforts to slow climate change.

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Leaders from around the world are gathering in Glasgow, Scotland, to hammer out new pledges to fight climate change. The stakes are high. Scientists warn that heat-trapping emissions must fall dramatically by 2030. Otherwise, the world faces more extreme hurricanes, floods and droughts, likely displacing millions of people. Still, negotiations at the COP26 meeting are expected to be tough. Here are four reasons why.

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Next week, world leaders meet to negotiate new climate agreements - high stakes for developing countries. Many contribute little to climate change but are severely affected by it. NPR's Lauren Sommer talked to a young activist from Uganda.

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Many countries have agreed to stronger limits on greenhouse gas emissions in the lead-up to international climate talks next week, a crucial step in avoiding catastrophic storms, floods and droughts.

But those pledges don't go nearly far enough to rein in the heat-trapping pollution destabilizing the climate, according to a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme. The shortfall is casting a shadow over negotiations that scientists say are pivotal for putting the brakes on warming.

Being seven months pregnant is not exactly comfortable. Then there's being seven months pregnant in 110-degree heat with a broken air conditioner.

"It was the most challenging time," says Keishell Brown, a pregnant mother in Fresno, Calif. "It was very hard to sleep. There's no cool air coming. The fan is just blowing hot air."

President Xi Jinping says China will stop financing the construction of new coal-fired power plants abroad. The move could sharply limit the worldwide expansion of coal, which produces significant heat-trapping emissions.

On a hot afternoon in California's Sequoia National Park, Alexis Bernal squints up at the top of a 200-foot-tall tree.

"That is what we would call a real giant sequoia monarch," she says. "It's massive."

At 40 feet in diameter, the tree easily meets the definition of a monarch, the name given to the largest sequoias. It's likely more than 1,500 years old.

Still, that's as old as this tree will get. The trunk is pitch black, the char reaching almost all the way to the top. Not a single green branch is visible.

With tens of thousands of people displaced by floods, wildfires and hurricanes this summer, researchers warn that the majority of untapped fossil fuels must remain in the ground to avoid even more extreme weather.

The rapidly warming climate is the "greatest threat" to global public health, more than 200 medical journals are warning in an unprecedented joint statement that urges world leaders to cut heat-trapping emissions to avoid "catastrophic harm to health that will be impossible to reverse."

In early May, flames began to spread through a pine forest, consuming a dense carpet of leaves and underbrush. The burn was the definition of a "good fire," intentionally ignited to clear vegetation that could fuel future infernos.

It happened in the state leading the nation in controlled burns: Florida.

More than 200 climate scientists just released a stark look at how fast the climate is warming, showing heat waves, extreme rain and intense droughts are on the rise. The evidence for warming is "unequivocal" but the extent of future disasters will be determined by how fast governments can cut heat-trapping emissions. Here are the top findings from the report.

Facing record-breaking dry conditions across the West, the U.S. Forest Service announced it will aggressively put out wildfires this summer. As a result, the agency's use of "good fire," the lower-intensity blazes that clear out overgrown forests, will also stop.

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Coastal cities need billions of dollars to build defenses against sea level rise. Tensions are rising over where that funding will come from: taxpayers or private companies with waterfront property?

Explore the project: https://apps.npr.org/sea-level-rise-silicon-valley/

By almost every measure, the drought in the Western U.S. is already one for the record books.

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Coral reef biologists are often asked the same question again and again: "When my kids grow up, will there still be coral reefs?"

"That's a question I ask myself," says Christopher Cornwall, a research fellow at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. "The greatest fear is that all the coral will be gone at a certain point in time."

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