“Everything is getting ready for a pretty nasty fight”
The perceived failure at the top would undermine the UK government’s attempt to present itself as a global climate leader in its first major post-Brexit diplomatic role.
Small developing states most vulnerable to climate change are now pushing countries to return as early as next year to provide new emission reduction targets before 2030, as well as new funding.
Under the Paris Agreement, governments would not have to present new plans until 2025, for new 2035 targets.
“There will be tremendous pressure to get some commitment back on the table before 2025,” said Peter Betts, former senior climate negotiator for the UK.
A combination of global and national policies, as well as restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, have undermined UK efforts to secure a clear victory.
“Everything is preparing for a pretty nasty fight,” said Li Shuo, a seasoned observer of the talks and expert at Greenpeace China.
Li said Cop26 could be the most difficult event of its kind since Copenhagen in 2009, when countries left without a deal.
The PM’s “unreasonable” expectations
The British Cop26 team are also frustrated that Boris Johnson and other ministers have raised unreasonable expectations for the event.