COP agreements drafts are usually diluted in the final text. However, there is always the possibility that some elements could still be strengthened depending on how negotiations between countries go.
The document “recognizes that the impacts of climate change will be much lower at the temperature increase of 1.5 °C compared to 2 °C and resolves to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.”
Scientists believe the world must limit global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels to prevent the climate crisis from worsening and becoming a catastrophe.
The British COP26 presidency had one goal: “To keep 1.5 alive.” This is what this firm-up language was and what other climate-leading countries were hoping for.
Several countries, including Australia, Russia, China and Brazil, have shown resistance at several meetings in the six months leading up to COP26.
Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister, spoke to Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi Crown Prince, on Wednesday. They “discussed how important it is to make progress in negotiations in these final days of COP26,” a Downing Street reading of the call revealed.
“The Prime Minister stated that all countries need to be more ambitious if we are to achieve the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C.
The draft acknowledged that this shift requires “meaningful, effective action” by all nations and territories in what it calls “a critical decade.”
It “recognizes that limiting global warming to 1.5 °C by 2100 requires rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, including reducing global carbon dioxide emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 relative to the 2010 level and to net zero around mid-century,” using language that is in line with the latest UN climate science report.
Net zero is a state in the atmosphere where the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted into it is no more than the amount removed. This could be achieved through natural means like planting trees to absorb carbon dioxide and technology.
Professor of meteorology at University of Reading William Collins said, “It is important to this agreement recognizes that the 1.5 degree goal” and the science that indicates deep emissions cuts over the next decade.
He added that the current Glasgow pledges are not enough to meet these reductions by 2030. It will be too late to implement the 2030 emission reductions if countries do not immediately get on board, he stated. He was referring to the next time countries have to revise targets.
“The hope was for this level of ambition to have been achieved in Glasgow; however, if not, countries will need back to negotiations next year.”
Information about the emission plans of countries
Every country must have a plan to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.
The most striking line in the draft is the one that calls on signatories to submit new targets for reducing emissions over the next ten years by 2022. This is critical if the world is to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius and closer to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
David Waskow is the director of the International Climate Initiative at the World Resources Institute and he welcomed the 2022 goal as progress.
“So this is crucial language, because it sets the time frame around which countries need to come forward to align with Paris,” he stated. He was referring to the 2015 Paris Agreement, which established a limit on global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, with preference for 1.5.
He warned that “certainly parties have been pushing back against that,” naming Russia and Saudi Arabia as countries that are opposed to new commitments by 2022. CNN reached out Tuesday to those countries regarding the same issue, and is currently seeking comment.
Waskow is one of the few experts who welcomes this progress. It requires that countries make new plans before 2025.
However, the UN’s August Climate Science Report revealed that climate change is occurring faster than previously thought. This has led to some countries and groups hoping for more ambition.
“This draft agreement is not a plan for solving the climate crisis. It’s an agreement that all of us will cross our fingers and pray for the best,” Greenpeace International executive Director Jennifer Morgan stated in a statement. She cited a Climate Action Tracker study that showed that the world is headed for 2.4 degrees of global warming, despite the new pledges made before COP26.
“The conference’s job was to bring that number down to 1.5C. But with this text, world leaders are pushing it to next year. This is the best they can do, and it’s no wonder that kids today are furious at them.
Yamide Dagnet (WRI’s director for climate negotiations) said that it was climate-vulnerable nations who pushed for stronger language on 1.5. However, they said that what they wanted was for the agreement not to place stronger obligations for specific countries. They also see the 2022 goal as impossible to achieve without a larger boost in funding.
“It’s going to be very hard for them… to return home and to say that after all your efforts,… you must do another adjustment effort within the year,” she stated.
On fossil fuels
The draft agreement calls on governments to “accelerate phasing out coal and subsidies for fossilfuels.” This is obvious since phasing out fossilfuels is essential if we want to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. This is a significant step forward since the previous agreements didn’t mention coal or fossil fuel subsidies.
Major producers of fossil fuels are likely to oppose the language.
There are a few caveats to consider when it comes to phasing in coal and ending fossil fuel subsidies.
Helen Mountford, WRI President of Climate and Economics, said that “it doesn’t give any date for either one of these and for both it just states ‘accelerating the efforts’,” in a briefing.
Sharma, chief of COP26, had stated before he arrived in Glasgow that a solid exit date for coal was one his priorities.
Questions are also being raised about whether the clause regarding fossil fuels will survive the next two days.
Morgan of Greenpeace said, “I expect this sentence to be very contested.”
“Saudi Arabia, and other countries, will try to remove this paragraph. However, it does not have dates. You would be able to see the dates in the IPCC around 2030. [coal exit for]For developing countries, the 2040s will be the best time to invest in industrialized countries.
Some progress has been made in Glasgow regarding fossil fuels. Up to now, 28 countries have signed an agreement to stop the financing of unabated fossil-fuel projects abroad by 2022. Unabated projects are those that don’t capture greenhouse gas emissions at their source before they escape to space, which is a good first step.
Numerous new countries signed up for COP26 to phase out coal, but the end date was in the 2030s for developed countries and 2040s if they are developing countries. This is ten years later that Sharma and climate leaders had hoped. China, India, the US were not among the three biggest emitters in the world. They are also the largest coal users.
Who should pay what
The draft contains strong points in a lengthy section about the need to fulfill the commitment made more than a decade ago by the world’s wealthiest countries to provide $100 billion per year in climate finance to the developing world. The 2020 target was supposed be met, but it was missed. It is supposed that it will be used to help developing countries reduce their carbon emissions and also to help them adapt to the effects of the crisis.
Although the developed world has been historically more responsible for climate change than the developing countries, many of the countries at the frontline of the crisis have contributed little to it. There is a consensus that the rich world must pay some of the cost of adaptation and energy transition.
“[The conference]Notes with concern that current climate finance for adaptation is not sufficient to address the worsening effects of climate change in developing countries. [countries]”The draft uses some strong terms.
It does not indicate when the $100 billion should arrive. Instead, it points to 2023. This is three years after the deadline, but it is still on track. John Kerry, US climate envoy and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen hoped for a 2022 date last Wednesday.
The draft doesn’t give any details about the idea, which is a reflection of the fact that the US and the European Union have been pushing back against it.
“It is vague and fuzzy. Mohamed Adow, director at Power Shift Africa, said that the missed deadline for the $100Billion promise is not acknowledged.
The draft agreement includes for the first time more specific language about “loss and damages” financing for the developing countries. This is essentially financial liability for the impacts of the climate crisis. Some of the most affected nations are asking for more money to help them deal with the loss and damages they are already experiencing due to global warming. This is essentially the idea behind climate compensations.