Cop26: Third draft deal published as negotiators close in on agreement

EU, US and Japan reported to be resisting giving more money to developing countries

NGO's and activists reflect on two weeks in Glasgow and what has been achieved. Video: Enda O'Dowd

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A call on countries to accelerate the phase-out of “unabated coal” and “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies“ has survived into a new version of the draft deal from Cop26.

The third draft came on Saturday morning after negotiators were last night closing in on an agreement to tackle climate change amid warnings that scaling back their ambitions too much would fail to keep alive the target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.

The summit continued beyond its scheduled conclusion of 6pm and negotiators were expected to work through the night on a final text.

The language on phasing out coal and fossil fuel subsidies has been weakened from the initial draft but some observers insist undertakings under these headings are significant, even with an absence of clear time lines. Saudi Arabia and Russia want no references to fossil fuels, according to negotiators.

The latest draft “requests” that countries come back by the end of next year with revised emission-reduction targets outlined in their “national determined contributions” – as allowed for under the Paris Agreement. There is remaining uncertainty if big emitter countries, notably the United States and China, will oppose strengthening pledges in 2022.

There is no specific reference to the 1.5-degrees goal in the text, but it requests countries revisit the targets “as necessary to align with the Paris Agreement temperature goal by the end of 2022, taking into account different national circumstances”.

In the Paris Agreement in 2015, countries committed to limit temperature rises to “well below” two degrees and try to limit them to 1.5 degrees to avoid the most dangerous impacts of storms, droughts, crop failures, floods and disease.

Scientists have warned that keeping temperature rises to 1.5 degrees requires global emissions to be cut by 45 per cent by 2030, and to zero overall by mid-century.

But despite countries being required to update their action plans, known as nationally determined contributions, for emissions cuts up to 2030 in the run-up to Glasgow, the latest pledges leave the world well off track to meet the goal.

Climate activists protest in fake blood as the Cop26 summit nears to a close. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA
Climate activists protest in fake blood as the Cop26 summit nears to a close. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA

Therefore, countries are under pressure to come up with a deal in Glasgow that will see them rapidly increase their ambition for emission cuts in the 2020s as well as to provide the finance for developing countries to cope with the crisis.

The draft text urges developed countries to at least double their collective provision of climate finance to help developing nations adapt to climate change from 2019 levels by 2025.

The European Union, US and Japan are reported to be resisting giving more money to developing countries.

Historic reference

The historic reference to coal and fossil fuel subsidies survived into the latest draft, despite expected pushback from some big producer and emitter nations.

It is the first time a climate change agreement of this kind specifically mentions coal or fossil fuels.

It calls on countries to accelerate technology and policies to shift towards low-emission energy systems, by scaling up clean power generation and energy efficiency.

But it also recognises the need for support towards a “just transition”, seen as important to protect those who might be hit by job losses or higher costs from the shift to clean energy.

On Friday, Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan said he believed the text remained ambitious and that although the commitments made in Glasgow were not enough to reach 1.5 degrees, the goal remained realistic.

“My sense of the negotiations is they’re not in a bad place because the ambition is not being scaled back. Certain things are slightly weakened, but it’s not fundamentally been weakened,” he said. – Additional reporting from PA

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