COP26: New draft climate deal steps up call for urgent action

COP26: New draft climate deal steps up call for urgent action

A new draft agreement at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow has stepped up calls on governments to urgently tackle climate change.

It asks countries to reveal their plans to massively reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a much faster speed than previously.

But it softens commitments to reduce use of coal and other fossil fuels.

It also asks countries to strengthen their support for poorer countries fighting climate change.

The deal must be agreed by all countries at the meeting.

Negotiations could go late into Friday or longer. The UN meeting is seen as crucial for limiting the worst effects of global warming.

On Friday, UN chief António Guterres said COP26 would probably not achieve its aims and the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C is on “life support”.

Scientists say that limiting warming to 1.5C compared to pre-industrial levels will protect us from the most dangerous impacts of climate change – it is a key part of the Paris agreement that most countries signed up to.

Meeting the goal requires global emissions to be cut by 45% by 2030 and to zero overall by 2050.

One example of the impact of global temperature rise above 2C is the death of virtually all coral reefs, scientists say.

Prof Jim Watson at University College London said the draft agreement had encouraging elements, but that overall it was “nowhere near ambitious enough”.

The draft requests that countries submit their plans – known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change by next year’s climate summit. Previous agreements asked countries to submit these NDCs every five years.

“On balance, this is definitely a stronger and more balanced text than a few days ago,” says Helen Mountford at the World Resources Institute.

“Elements which seem stronger include adaptation, loss and finance. Adaptation finance has specific dates, urging countries to double adaptation finance by the end of 2025 from current levels,” she says.

The draft agreement – also called a “cover decision” – is the second version released this week. Governments and representatives have been negotiating details of the first draft published on Wednesday.

A key sticking point was climate finance – the money promised by richer countries to poorer countries to fight climate change. It is controversial because developed countries are responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions, but developing countries see the worst effects of climate change.

  • Rich countries ‘pushing back’ on paying for climate loss

“It could be better, it should be better, and we have one day left to make it a lot, lot better,” says Jennifer Morgan of Greenpeace International.

“The key line on phasing out coal and fossil fuel subsidies has been critically weakened, but it’s still there and needs to be strengthened again before this summit closes.

“But there’s wording in here worth holding on to and the UK presidency needs to fight tooth and nail to keep the most ambitious elements in the deal,” she says.

Despite the promises made at COP26 so far, the planet is still heading for 2.4C of warming above pre-industrial levels, according to a report by Climate Action Tracker.

What has been agreed at COP26?

A series of agreements between groups of countries have been announced so far:

  • In a surprise announcement, the US and China agreed to work together this decade to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C
  • More than 100 world leaders promised to end and reverse deforestation by 2030, including Brazil, home to the Amazon rainforest
  • The US and the EU announced a global partnership to cut emissions of the greenhouse gas methane by 2030 – reducing methane in the atmosphere seen as one of the best ways to quickly reduce global warming
  • More than 40 countries committed to move away from coal – but the world’s biggest users like China and the US did not sign up
  • Some new pots of money were announced to help developing countries adapt to climate change and deal with the damage and loss it brings – but many say it’s not enough
  • A new alliance that commits countries to setting a date to ending oil and gas use – and halting granting new licences for exploration – was launched.

Source: -BBC

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