COP26 goes into overtime as countries haggle over final details of deal

NEGOTIATIONS at COP26 went into overtime as countries haggled over details of the draft agreement to keep global warming to 1.5C.

Delegates and envoys were expected to wrap up talks at 6pm on Friday, but the time limit came and went as discussions continued.

In a statement, COP26 president Alok Sharma said that the “crafting of texts … will take some time”, and said that COP would be extended into Saturday.

The top Tory said revised texts of the agreement would be available “by around 8am”, and that formal plenary meetings would extend into the afternoon. 

At a “stock take” meeting on Friday, led by Sharma, there were calls from developing nations for swifter action to deliver finance to help them cut emissions, adapt and deal with loss and damage caused by global warming.

Elsewhere, others were disappointed that language on phasing out fossil fuels and eliminating subsidies had been diluted.

READ MORE: Climate campaigners say COP26 Glasgow draft deal has ‘gone backwards’

A key part of the text initially read that countries would commit to the “phasing out of coal and fossil fuel subsidies” in the first draft released on Wednesday.

But on Friday, the revised draft called upon Parties to “accelerate the development, deployment and dissemination of technologies,and the adoption of policies, to transition towards low-emission energy systems, including by rapidly scaling up clean power generation and accelerating the phasing-out of unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels”.

Lorna Slater, co-leader of the Scottish Greens, said she was “devastated” by the second draft being watered down in regards to fossil fuels.

And, earlier in the day, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (pictured below) said the deal is “slightly better” but it “still has a way to go”.

During the informal stock take, countries were given a final platform to set out their issues with the second draft of the Glasgow agreement, and to suggest solutions to sticking points.

Climate Envoy John Kerry signalled the US’s support for the current text of the agreement, despite the watered-down wording on phasing out fossil fuels and subsidies.

However, he was emphatic that it must not be diluted further or removed from the final draft completely and described spending money on fossil fuel subsidies as “insanity”.

READ MORE: Scotland has come out of COP26 better than the UK, says Lorna Slater

Kerry said: “We are struggling each year to find money, but 2.5 trillion dollars in the last five or six years went into subsidies for fossil fuel. That’s the definition of insanity.

“We’re allowing it to feed the very problem we’re here to try to cure. It doesn’t make sense.”

He added: “To avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis, we have to act now so, on mitigation, we believe very deeply – based on Paris, based on all the prior COPs – that it’s imperative that on mitigation, the text be preserved.

“We cannot get weaker, it can’t go backwards from here. It includes critical references to 1.5 because of the science.”

The National:

US Climate Envoy Kerry urged countries to go further

China expressed disappointment about a lack of detail on how to achieve the $100bn climate finance pledge for poorer nations.

The country’s COP26 representative said: “We think the draft that came out this morning had some improvements compared to the previous one and provided a good basis for our further discussions.

“But we still think the current text should further strengthen the parts on adaptation finance, technical capacities and building.

“China is willing to support the UK residency in agreeing on an outcome that is science-based but also rules-based, that has balanced elements of mitigation, adaptation and finance and has appropriate wording.”

READ MORE: COP26: Lorna Slater says Scotland comes out of summit better than UK

Russia seemingly signalled no major concerns with the cover agreement, and urged other countries not to “drag down” the negotiations and said the talks must show “specific tangible results” to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The Russian envoy said: “We need to show a clear signal on the further steps we are intending to undertake jointly to further climate agenda.”

But he called for further detail on the mechanism to set up carbon trading between countries – a key element of the Paris Agreement that successive COPs have failed to deliver upon.

The National:

Protestors outside the gates of COP26 sending a message to those inside

A representative from Peru, speaking on behalf of the Independent Alliance of Latin America and the Caribbean, called for wording on ending the use of fossil fuels to be strengthened.

She said: “We understand that a balance must be struck, but there are elements that need to be clear, explicit and unequivocal.

“1.5C requires a full phaseout of coal and fossil fuel subsidies, to be able to know we are on the right track.”

Meanwhile, minister for circular economy Slater said that the changes to the draft in regards to fossil fuels was “devastating”.

READ MORE: COP26: Six ways Nicola Sturgeon outshone Boris Johnson and his government

Speaking to The National in the Blue Zone, she said: “The first draft of this draft was the first draft ever to mention fossil fuels, and then while the words fossil fuels do appear its all been really watered down, it’s really upsetting.

“The Climate Action Tracker said that the first draft would still allow global heating of 2.4C, that was before it was watered down.

“So we really are calling on the countries of the world to level it up, not water it down.”

The National:

Activists continued to protest into the night as the deadline passed

Earlier on Friday, the First Minister called for Boris Johnson to come back to Scotland to get the deal over the line, and said that the second draft was “slightly better”.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, she said: “It is in many respects slightly better than the draft that was published earlier in the week, but it still has a way to go.

“So, on the upside, you know, there’s a clear recognition that 1.5 degrees is the goal in terms of limiting global warming.

“There seems to be movement on adaptation finance, there is wording on loss and damage.”

READ MORE: COP26: ‘No excuse’ not to meet $100bn pledge, says Nicola Sturgeon

In Paris in 2015 countries committed to limiting temperature rises to “well below” 2C to avoid the most dangerous impacts of storms, droughts, crop failures, floods and disease.

Scientists have warned that keeping to 1.5C requires global emissions to be cut by 45% by 2030, and to zero overall by mid-century.

Despite countries being required to update their NDC’s (nationally determined contributions) for emission cuts up to 2030 – the latest pledges leave the world well off track to meet the goal.

Therefore, countries are under pressure to come up with a deal in Glasgow that will see them rapidly increase their ambition for emission cuts in the 2020s to stop the 1.5C goal slipping out of reach.

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