COUNTRIES attending the COP26 climate summit have been urged to give a “final injection of can-do spirit” to the talks to try to get agreement on future climate action before the end of the day.
Talks president Alok Sharma told a gathering of heads of delegations at lunchtime on Friday that the hours that lay ahead were “critical”.
“This is our collective moment in history,” he said. “This is our chance to forge a cleaner, healthier, more prosperous world.”
Mr Sharma repeated his wish that the summit would come to “a smooth and orderly close” on Friday evening - but he acknowledged there was still significant work to be done.
Representatives of almost 200 countries have been mulling over a draft text of an agreement since 6am on Wednesday morning.
Divisions swiftly emerged over proposed commitments on the phase-out of fossil fuels and funding for the most climate-vulnerable countries.
Just before 8am this morning, Friday, a revised draft text was published that addressed some of the concerns of both sides.
Wording around the fossil fuel phase-out requirement was softened while phrasing around funding was strengthened.
Climate campaigners welcomed the retention of a requirement that countries revise upwards their emissions-cutting targets before the next summit in November 2022.
The specific inclusion of methane as a target for emissions cut was also welcomed.
But the ‘Paris Rulebook’ – the precise details of how and when countries must verify and report progress on the emissions cuts they promised in the 2015 Paris Agreement – has yet to be finalised.
Related to that, negotiations over transparency regulations are also incomplete. Commitments to further meetings over the coming year to continue work on the detail are expected to be sufficient to secure consensus on these issues.
Developing countries, however, are still unhappy with the arrangements for current and future funding – not just the amounts pledged but the reluctance to create new permanent funding mechanisms rather than rely on goodwill donations.
They will be somewhat appeased that the draft reinforces a principle that emissions reductions should take account of countries’ “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities”.
Mr Sharma characterised the talks as constructive and collegiate but behind the scenes, tensions have been running high.
“We have come a long way over the past two weeks,” he said. “We need that final injection of can-do spirit.”