GLASGOW: A draft UN climate summit text on Wednesday urged countries to boost their emissions cutting goals by 2022 — three years earlier than planned — as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson dashed back to Glasgow to check the pulse of negotiations.
Wednesday’s text was the first indication of where nations are 10 days into the COP26 talks in Glasgow, after data showed promises made so far left the world far off track to limit heating to 1.5C.
Here’s what the draft, drawn up by the British hosts of COP26, includes:
NEW CLIMATE PLEDGES Countries’ targets to cut emissions this decade would still lead to 2.4C of warming, far beyond the Paris Agreement’s goal to cap warming at 1.5C and avoid its most disastrous impacts.
To attempt to close that gap, the draft COP26 text asks countries to upgrade their 2030 emissions-cutting plans by the end of 2022.
Vulnerable nations have been pushing for a review of countries’ pledges every year - a much faster timeframe than the UN’s current five-year review cycle.
The United States and European Union have both said they could support a faster review, but others say an annual ratchet would be a bureaucratic burden.
Government ministers will also meet every year to check in on efforts to raise pre-2030 ambitions, starting next year, the draft says.
The draft “urges” developed countries to “urgently scale up” aid to help countries adapt to global warming, and says countries should double funding to help poor countries adapt to climate impacts - although it does not say by what date.
Rich countries failed to meet a long-held pledge to give poorer countries $100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020, and expect to deliver the money three years late.
The draft deal tells rich countries to try to meet that pledge earlier, but does not spell out a plan for doing so. It also says the quality of climate finance needs improving, with more grants and fewer loans.
The draft mentions the contentious issue of compensation. It asks rich countries - whose historical greenhouse gas emissions are largely responsible for global warming - to provide more support to address the damage climate change is already doing, but steers clear of saying how much or laying out firm rules on raising the money.
Small island states says they will push in the final COP26 talks for a stronger finance deal.
The draft text takes aim at the burning of coal, oil and gas, telling countries to “accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels”.
That would mark the first time fossil fuels are named and shamed in the conclusions of a UN climate summit - a contentious move that some countries are expected to resist, even though the proposal did not set a fixed date for phasing out the fuels.
The document also spells out exactly how fast the world needs to cut CO2 emissions to cap global warming to 1.5C - by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and to net zero by 2050 - effectively setting the benchmark that countries’ future climate pledges will be measured against.
Negotiators are tasked with accelerating national decarbonisation plans, stumping up long-promised finance for vulnerable nations and finalising rules of the Paris Agreement on carbon markets and transparency.
“Some significant issues remain unresolved and I think as we know time is not on our side,” COP26 President Alok Sharma told delegates.
“We all know what is at stake in these negotiations and the urgency of our task.”
The text, which will change as ministers begin the high-level wrangling as COP26 enters its last two days, called for nations to “revisit and strengthen” their decarbonisation plans by next year, instead of 2025 as previously agreed.
It said that limiting heating to 1.5C - the Paris deal’s most ambitious temperature goal - “requires meaningful and effective action by all parties in this critical decade”.
“Rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions”, said the text, were needed to avert the worst impacts of heating, which has already seen countries worldwide slammed by fiercer floods, droughts and storms.
The 2015 accord contains a “ratchet” mechanism requiring countries to update emissions plans every five years.
Several large emitters missed the 2020 deadline for submitting new plans, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
Vulnerable nations say that the next deadline, in 2025, is too distant to deliver the short-term emissions cuts needed to avoid disastrous heating.
In what observers said was a “significant first mention” of the fuels driving global warming, the draft summit called on countries to “accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels”.
Previous climate summit decisions and the Paris Agreement itself do not so much as mention fossil fuels, focusing instead on emissions.
But the fossil fuel reference contained no deadline and it was unclear it would make the final text.
Countries’ latest decarbonisation plans submitted under the Paris Agreement are likely to see Earth warm 2.7C this century, according to a United Nations assessment.
Climate scientists and environmental groups criticised the draft for failing to reflect the urgency of the crisis facing the planet.
“This draft deal is not a plan to solve the climate crisis, it’s an agreement that we’ll all cross our fingers and hope for the best,” said Greenpeace International Director Jennifer Morgan.
“It’s a polite request that countries maybe, possibly, do more next year.”
Johnson - who took the train back to Glasgow after flying to a leaders summit in the Scottish city last week - is expected to issue an update on progress later Wednesday.
Delegates came to Glasgow with a laundry list of disputes to be resolved, including over how vulnerable nations’ fight against rising temperatures is financed.
Rich emitters promised over a decade ago to provide $100 billion annually to help others green their grids and adapt to the changing climate.
But the draft text paid little attention to the figure, merely noting “with regret” that it had yet to materialise.
“With this text our leaders are failing us all,” said Teresa Anderson, climate policy coordinator at ActionAid International.
“These empty words are way off target to meet the scale of the enormous challenge facing humanity.”
Simon Lewis, professor of Global Change Science at University College London, said the draft “acknowledges the enormous gulf” between current emissions plans and a 1.5C pathway.
But he told AFP that “if developed countries don’t deliver on their financial promises, the talks may fall into disarray”.