COP26 draft agreement encourages stronger climate action but weakens fossil fuel rhetoric

Keeping a promise for countries to update their climate goals in 2022 will be welcomed by poorer nations who want more action to deal with worsening floods and fires and rising sea levels.

But it was formulated in a weaker language than a previous text and did not offer the rolling annual review that some developing countries pressed.

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It also says that the updating of pledges should take into account “different national circumstances”, referring to the differences between rich and poor countries.

That could reassure some developing countries, which say it is unfair to expect them to abandon fossil fuels and cut emissions as quickly as the rich countries, whose emissions are largely responsible for causing climate change.

On fossil fuels, the outline included two words that dilute an earlier version, which boldly stated that the world should promise to phase out subsidies for fossil fuels in general.

But it would still be the first time for any United Nations climate summit to have fossil fuels explicitly mentioned in a final agreement.

Now the text includes the word “incessant” in front of coal, and the removal of “inefficient” subsidies for fossil fuels. Continuous carbon generation is where there is no technology to eliminate resulting carbon dioxide emissions.

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Arab nations, many of which are large producers of oil and gas, opposed the wording in the previous draft.

The paragraph now reads: “(COP26) calls on Parties to accelerate the development, diffusion and diffusion of technologies and the adoption of policies for the transition to low-emission energy systems, including by rapidly expanding clean electricity generation and accelerating the phase of continuous coal power and inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels.

Delegates in Glasgow from nearly 200 nations are accused of keeping the Paris Agreement’s temperature targets alive even when climate disasters hit countries around the world.

The summit began with an explosion as world leaders descended on Glasgow armed with a string of headline announcements, from a commitment to reduce methane emissions to a plan to save the rainforests.

But progress has stalled in the underlying technical and now ministerial-level negotiations.

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With one day remaining of planned negotiations, countries are hardly closer to an agreement on whether national emissions reduction plans should be expanded soon, how climate action is reported, and how vulnerable nations are supported.

“The truth is that the atmosphere does not care about commitments,” said Ugandan youth activist Vanessa Nakate.

“It only cares about what we put into it or stop putting into it. Humanity will not be saved by promises.”

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Friday’s draft also included a request for countries to return with more ambitious emission reduction plans by next year – three years earlier than planned.

Host UK says it wants COP26 to lead to commitments by countries to keep the 1.5C temperature limit target of the Paris agreement achievable.

However, current national emission cutting plans, all said, would lead to 2.7C of heating.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday that countries’ climate plans are “hollow” with no commitments to quickly remove fossil fuels.

The joint climate action plan of the United States and China arouses hope

Negotiations received a shot in the arm on Wednesday when the United States and China – the two largest broadcasters – unveiled a joint climate action plan.

Although it was light on details, observers said the pact eased concerns that frozen US-China relations entering into COP26 would derail the negotiation.

But the levels of trust between rich polluters and developing nations are low after developed countries failed to exceed the more than $ 100 billion a year they pledged by 2020.

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Finance is more generally holding back progress in Glasgow, and developing nations are insisting on more money for adaptation that can help them prepare for future climate shocks.

Developed nations, meanwhile, are in favor of a greater push for emission reductions, something that countries that still fully electrify their networks – and are largely flawless about emissions – feel is unfair.

“Wealthy nations treat climate finance as a charity or favor to reassure developing countries to sign a compromised package of decisions,” Harjeet Singh, a senior adviser at Climate Action Network International, told AFP.

“We are talking about saving lives and undoing injustice to build a secure future for all.”

Countries already hit by climate disasters such as record drought and flooding require that they be separately compensated for “loss and damage”.

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Organizers said the draft texts dedicated an “unprecedented” section to loss and damage, but vulnerable nations said it had strayed far from its expectations.

Other issues likely to delay an agreement in Glasgow include a long-running dispute over the rules governing carbon markets, and common reporting timelines.

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