COP26 summit agrees historic climate pact after India demanded last-minute watering-down on pledge to phase out coal

ALMOST 200 nations have signed off on a historic climate pact at the COP26 conference in Glasgow after a gruelling two weeks of negotiations.

Countries around the globe have committed to strengthening targets to curb emissions and increasing efforts to cease reliance on unabated coal and fossil fuel subsidies.

AFP
The last-minute change to the historical climate deal visibly upset COP26 President Alok Sharma[/caption]

But there were plenty of disappointed delegates after India boldly demanded a last-minute watering-down on the pledge to phase out coal.

They requested for the wording of the draft agreement to be altered from “phase-out” to “phase-down” in regards to the use of unabated coal power.

The major edit quickly dampened the optimistic mood, with Switzerland expressing their “profound disappointment” at the change.

Fiji’s representative also slammed the eleventh-hour modification, telling the climate summit of its “astonishment”.

He said nations were warned to avoid making “last-minute” changes to the deal and that “due process” had not been followed.

To avoid leaving the Scottish city without an outcome, disgruntled delegates from the EU and several island states reluctantly agreed to the adaptation.

EU negotiator Frans Timmermans explained: “Because we know the longer you take to get rid of coal, the more burden you put on the natural environment, but also the more burden you put on your economy.

“Because coal is simply not a smart economic proposition either, that’s why we want to speed up the exit.”

The use of coal – the worst fossil fuel for greenhouse gases – has been one of the most contentious factors of the climate conference and will restrict countries efforts in limiting the planet’s temperature rise to 1.5C.

COP26 President Alok Sharma was seen visible upset by the events and said he was “deeply sorry” for the way the process unfolded.

“I understand the deep disappointment. It’s also vital we protect this package,” he said.

He had previously referred to the final discussions as “the moment of truth for our planet”.

Negotiations surpassed the original deadline on Friday at 6pm.

But the 197 nations finally managed to agree on the final text – and promised to increase their emissions-cutting targets for 2030 by the end of next year.

Major outcomes of the Glasgow Climate Pact include…

  • Supercharging 2030 emissions-cutting targets as soon as next year, helping to “keep 1.5C alive”
  • The aim of limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels “alive” or within reach was a key goal of the talks
  • Accelerating the phase-down of unabated coal and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies
  • Doubling funding for developing nations to adapt to climate change by 2025
  • Boosting up the agenda the conversation about how to pay for the loss and damage that climate change inflicts on developing countries
  • Finally agreeing rules on carbon offset markets, which the last two COPs have tried and failed to finalise

After a lengthy 15 days of talks, delegates pledged to double funding for developing nations to adapt to climate change by 2025.

As well as this, they agreed to prioritise working out how to pay for the devastation climate change causes on developing countries.

Nations also successfully agreed rules on carbon offset markets – which the previous two COP conferences have failed to finalise.

The members of the United Nations pledged to meet in 12 months to commit to further major carbon cuts, as it is predicted the global temperature will rise to. 2.4C under the current agreement.

The final deal was praised by US envoy John Kerry, who said it “raises ambitions” internationally.

But the secretary-general of the UN, Antonio Guterres, dubbed the outcome “a compromise.”

He said in a statement: “Our fragile planet is hanging by a thread.   

“We are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe.   

“It is time to go into emergency mode — or our chance of reaching net zero will itself be zero. I reaffirm my conviction that we must end fossil fuels subsidies.  

“Phase out coal. Put a price on carbon.”

More to follow…

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