Negotiators at the UN climate conference in Glasgow were locking horns on Friday, November 12, for what is scheduled to be the final day of bargaining over how to stop global warming from becoming catastrophic.
After nearly two weeks of talks, the almost 200 countries represented at COP26 remain at odds over a range of issues – from how rich nations should compensate poor ones for damage caused by climate-driven disasters to how often nations should be required to update their emissions pledges.
A new draft document published on Friday morning weakened the language used in previous texts to address the phasing out of fossil fuels.
European Union climate policy chief Frans Timmermans had said on Thursday that removing that language “would be an extremely, extremely bad signal.”
The conference set out with a core aim: to keep alive the 2015 Paris Agreement’s aspirational target to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, and so avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
But under countries’ current pledges to cut emissions this decade, researchers say the world would hit levels of global warming far beyond that limit, unleashing catastrophic sea level rises, floods and droughts.
While there is little hope that new promises to bridge that gap will appear in the final day of talks, negotiators are attempting to impose new requirements that could require countries to raise their pledges in future, hopefully fast enough to keep the 1.5C goal within reach.
A draft of the COP26 deal circulated earlier this week, for example, would require countries to upgrade their climate targets in 2022. Climate-vulnerable nations hope to strengthen this into compulsory annual reviews to ensure the target remains in sight.
“Glasgow must be the moment when ambition-raising becomes a constant process at every COP, and this year’s COP decision must mandate annual ambition-raising platforms until 2025 to ensure that,” said Mohamed Nasheed, parliamentary speaker and former president of the Maldives and ambassador for the Climate Vulnerable Forum group of 48 countries.
“Action is needed this very decade. 2030 feels like a cliff’s edge and we are running towards it,” said Nicolas Galarza, Colombia’s vice-minister for the environment.
A senior United States official said the world’s biggest economy supported strengthening targets to meet the Paris goals, but could not support a requirement in the COP26 deal for yearly reviews of pledges.
At the moment, countries are required to revisit their pledges every five years.
Questions of finance continue to loom over the talks, with developing countries pushing for tougher rules to ensure that rich countries, whose historical emissions are largely responsible for heating up the planet, offer more cash to help the poorest nations adapt to climate impacts.
Ministers are also attempting to finish the contentious rules that will put the Paris agreement into practice, requiring agreement on long-standing disputes over carbon markets and transparency.
A final deal will require the unanimous consent of the nearly 200 countries that signed the 2015 Paris Agreement. – Rappler.com