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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

COP26: New draft climate deal steps up call for urgent action


A new draft agreement at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow has stepped up calls on governments to urgently tackle climate change.

It requests that countries reveal their plans for drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions at a much faster rate than previously.

It does, however, weaken commitments to reduce the use of coal and other fossil fuels.

It also requests that countries increase their support for poorer countries fighting climate change.

At the meeting, all countries must agree on the agreement.

Negotiations could last until Friday or even longer. The United Nations meeting is regarded as critical to mitigating the worst effects of global warming.

On Friday the UN chief Antonio Guterres said COP26 would probably not achieve its aims and the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C is on “life support”.

Scientists believe that limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels will protect us from the most dangerous effects of climate change; this is a key component of the Paris agreement, to which most countries have agreed.

To meet the target, global emissions must be reduced by 45 percent by 2030 and to zero by 2050.

According to scientists, one example of the impact of global temperature rises above 2 degrees Celsius is the death of virtually all coral reefs.

The draught agreement, also known as a “cover decision,” is the second version made public this week. Details of the first draught, which was published on Wednesday, have been negotiated by governments and representatives.

Climate finance – the money promised by richer countries to poorer countries to combat climate change – was a major sticking point. It is contentious because developed countries are responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions, while developing countries bear the brunt of the consequences of climate change.

Despite the promises made at COP26 so far, the planet is still heading for 2.4C of warming above pre-industrial levels, according to a report by Climate Action Tracker.

What has been agreed at COP26?

A series of agreements between groups of countries have been announced so far:

  • In a surprise announcement, the US and China agreed to work together this decade to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C
  • More than 100 world leaders promised to end and reverse deforestation by 2030, including Brazil, home to the Amazon rainforest
  • The US and the EU announced a global partnership to cut emissions of the greenhouse gas methane by 2030 – reducing methane in the atmosphere seen as one of the best ways to quickly reduce global warming
  • More than 40 countries committed to move away from coal – but the world’s biggest users like China and the US did not sign up
  • Some new pots of money were announced to help developing countries adapt to climate change and deal with the damage and loss it brings – but many say it’s not enough
  • A new alliance that commits countries to setting a date to ending oil and gas use – and halting granting new licences for exploration – was launched
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