COP26 Deal In Sight As Nations Rally For Compromise

Channels Television  
Updated November 13, 2021
US special climate envoy, John Kerry (centre right) undertakes some final negotiations near the close of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 13, 2021. Paul ELLIS / AFP
US special climate envoy, John Kerry (centre right) undertakes some final negotiations near the close of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 13, 2021.


COP26 negotiators on Saturday began coalescing around a hard-fought deal to deliver the emissions reductions needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, as the summit’s UK presidency warned the world faced a “moment of truth”.

India struck a discordant note, insisting on the right of developing economies to continue to use fossil fuels, as the two-week meeting in Glasgow edged towards its conclusion by debating a new draft text offered by COP26 president Alok Sharma.

But it was a rare note of objection as other influential players signalled their willingness to compromise, after the summit went into an unscheduled extra day Saturday.

READ ALSO: New Prison Riot In Ecuador Leaves 68 Dead

Chinese negotiator Zhao Yingmin said: “This text is by no means perfect, but we have no intention to open the text again.”

EU commission vice president Frans Timmermans said there was “a risk in this marathon of stumbling a couple of metres before the finishing line”, warning too against any reopening of the text.

US climate envoy John Kerry also backed the compromise, arguing “it is time to come together for future generations”.

Much-threatened island states including Fiji, the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu all signalled their support, despite pushing for much more financial support as they risk being swallowed by rising seas.

Sharma said the delegates from nearly 200 countries faced a “moment of truth for our planet, for our children and our grandchildren”.

“So much rests on decisions taken collectively,” he said.

Delegates in Glasgow are trying to hammer out how to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement goals to limit temperature rises to 1.5-2 degrees Celsius.

Countries already battered by climate disasters such as record-breaking drought, flooding and storms had demanded they be compensated separately for “loss and damage” — the mounting cost of global warming so far.

The new draft text released by Sharma’s team urged nations to accelerate efforts to phase out unfiltered coal and “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies.

India’s environment minister Bhupender Yadav told delegates that developing countries had the “right to their fair share of the global carbon budget and are entitled to the responsible use of fossil fuels”.

And after resistance from rich nations led by the United States and EU, the draft text omitted any reference to a specific finance facility for loss and damage, promising only future “dialogue” on the subject.

“For some loss and damage may be the beginning of conversation and dialogue,” said Shauna Aminath, the Maldives environment minister. “But for us this is a matter of survival.”

Do the right thing

The text noted “with deep regret” that wealthy nations had also failed to stump up a separate annual sum of $100 billion they promised over a decade ago. It urged countries to pay up “urgently and through 2025”.

Greenpeace International chief Jennifer Morgan told AFP that the language on fossil fuels “is far from what is needed but sends a signal –- I dare countries to take that out of the text right now”.

“The US has to support the most vulnerable on the issue of loss and damage. They cannot avoid this issue any longer. Nor can the European Union,” she added.

“I would call on President (Joe) Biden to do what’s right, and support the most vulnerable in helping them deal with their losses.”

Saleemul Huq, director of the ICCCAD climate NGO, said the British presidency had been “bullied” overnight into rejecting specific loss and damage funding.

“The UK’s words to the vulnerable countries have been proven to be totally unreliable,” he said.

Amadou Sebory Toure, head of the G77+China negotiating bloc, told AFP the proposal was “put forward by the entire developing world, representing six of every seven people on Earth”.

Developing nations said it was unfair for the summit to produce an unbalanced agreement heavily weighted toward “mitigation” — how economies can ditch fossil fuels by 2050.

They want specific instruction on how they can meet the bill of decarbonising while also adapting to the natural disasters supercharged by global warming.

Another key sticking point are rules governing carbon markets. Countries that benefited from a global framework predating Paris want to be able to carry over credits into the new deal.