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Second draft of climate agreement due as COP26 talks enter final phase

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is escorted by police as he arrives by train from London at Glasgow Central station. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is escorted by police as he arrives by train from London at Glasgow Central station. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is escorted by police as he arrives by train from London at Glasgow Central station. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA

Heads of delegations at the COP26 climate summit are scheduled to meet this morning to review a second draft of an agreement expected to be delivered to them overnight.

A first draft that was delivered early yesterday morning got a mixed response.

Its wording was stronger than previous COP agreements,  but not strong enough to achieve the ambition of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C.

A key feature of the text is a call to “accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels”.

It is the first time that the phasing out of fossil fuels has been included as a declared intention in a COP agreement, but it was not expected to survive redraft, with the main oil-producing countries  expressing early opposition.

The text reiterated the aim of the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement in that it “reaffirms the long-term global goal to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C”.

It increased the ambition of previous agreements by stressing the need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 45pc by 2030 relative to 2010, and to net zero by “around mid-century".

But despite the new emphasis at the talks over the last week and a half on urgently reducing methane emissions, the text only “invites” countries to “consider further opportunities to reduce non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions”.

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Climate Action Minister Eamon Ryan, who is leading the Irish delegation at the talks in Glasgow, said there was some strong language in the text but added: “It’s not enough and we need to go further and do more.

“But there is also a real fear that it could be reduced. It could be cut. It could be
undermined.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney, who attended the talks yesterday, said there was disappointment among EU countries that no formal mechanism was included in the text to provide for a ‘loss and damage’ fund to ensure ready access to emergency funds for countries suffering climate-related disasters.

Countries met separately and in group sessions from early yesterday morning to assess the text and deliver responses. By late afternoon, it was clear there was opposition to parts of it.

British  Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the negotiations were getting tough.

“There is a huge amount to do,” he said.

He warned failure to secure an ambitious agreement would cause public anger.

“The backlash will be immense and it will be long-lasting and we will deserve their criticism and their opprobrium,” he said.

The talks were boosted last night by a joint statement between the US and China announcing their joint commitment to enhanced action on emissions.

COP26 president Alok Sharma said his team would revise the draft text overnight and call all countries together this morning. He said he still hoped to wrap up the summit tomorrow evening.


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