Second draft text of Cop26: phase-out of coal is still in force, but some terms are softened

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Countries are called upon to accelerate the phase-out of coal-fired electricity at the Cop26 summit and return to the negotiating table next year with improvements to their national greenhouse gas reduction plans.

The second iteration of the key result of the Cop26 summit, now approaching its final hours in Glasgow after a fortnight of intense talks, showed a slight relaxation of language in some cases, but retained the core demands of a comeback.

The three architects of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement told the Guardian that a return to the negotiating table next year to revise countries’ national emission reduction targets – known as contributions Nationally Determined (NDC) – should be the key outcome of the talks. if the world wants to limit global heating to 1.5 ° C.

There has been a slight change in the wording of the text regarding revisions to the NDC – the previous text, released Thursday morning, “urged” parties to make revisions, while the current draft “calls” them to do so. to do. However, the latter reflects the language used in the Paris Agreement, so the change was not seen as a significant weakening.

The Cop26 presidency’s latest draft proposal, released shortly after 7 am Friday in Glasgow, calls on countries to accelerate “the phase-out of coal-fired electricity and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”.

A previous version on Wednesday called on countries to “accelerate the phase-out of coal and fossil fuel subsidies.”

Adding “inefficient” could help countries that wish to keep some fuel subsidies for the poor, while removing subsidies for major fossil fuel interests. However, this language change could also provide cover for countries that wish to keep the grants.

The issue of fossil fuel subsidies has long angered climate experts, with calls to cut subsidies over two decades largely ignored. However, it is new to have language on phasing out fossil fuels and their subsidies in a cop’s hedging decision and if the provision is kept in the end result it will mark increased determination by many countries. to deal with fossil fuel producers in the discussions.

The obligation on countries to review NDCs reflects the concern expressed by many parties, including the most vulnerable developing countries, about the chasm between carbon targets and the drastic cuts needed to limit the rise in temperatures to 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels.

Current national plans – known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – would lead to 2.4C of heating, according to an influential analysis this week by Climate Action Tracker.

Countries are currently expected to come back with better promises in 2025, as part of the Paris agreement, but many are now calling for the deadline to be moved forward. This is seen as the most closely fought area of ​​disagreement as the British hosts struggle to negotiate a deal.

The question of when and how to revise the NDCs is crucial because although the Glasgow talks will continue at least until the end of Friday, and possibly until this weekend, there is now no possibility that governments harden their NDCs at this summit. But a clause in the draft text that will be the main outcome of the talks would allow a return next year to update and strengthen the targets.

Developing countries fear they may not be sufficiently reassured about climate finance, a central issue for countries struggling to cope with the impacts of extreme weather events.

Helen Mountford of the World Resources Institute said the project shows progress in this area. “There seem to be things that could be stronger, especially adaptation, funding and loss and damage, which was really needed,” she said. These issues are the financing of clean development, adaptation to climate impacts and the payment of inevitable damages. “He now gives specific dates, asking countries to double adaptation funding by the end of 2025.”

But she added: “Of the $ 100 billion [promised] From 2020 each year, there is still no benchmark to close the gap since we know that countries did not reach this target in 2020 and 2021. So it is certainly a gap. The $ 100 billion was pledged in 2009, to be delivered in 2020 and this failure has damaged trust between rich donor countries and poorer recipient countries.

Bob Ward, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change, said: “This text appears to address many major issues that need to be addressed, but some important aspects still need to be finalized and may take some time. The text “calls” rather than commits countries to meeting updated and more ambitious commitments by the end of next year, recognizing that collectively planned emission reductions are still not compatible with sustaining warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

But he added: “The call for countries to phase out coal-fired power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies is very important and historic. Relentless coal power releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and all fossil fuel subsidies are inefficient. The text is also right to insist on the need for rich countries to honor their promise to provide 100 billion dollars per year to help developing countries, and to urgently begin a process of mobilizing funds from all sides. sources, both public and private, to achieve a significant increase in investment in the transition to zero carbon and climate resilient economies.

Finance ministers are expected to meet at 11 a.m., with a review of all parties expected at noon. British Police Chairman Alok Sharma is engaged in last-minute shuttle diplomacy between the parties.

Since the signing of the Paris agreement, forcing countries to limit temperature increases “well below” 2 ° C above pre-industrial levels while “continuing efforts” to a limit of 1.5 ° C, new science has shown that exceeding the 1.5 ° C threshold would have disastrous effects, some irreversible, including flooding many low-lying areas. Heating has now reached 1.1 ° C and extreme weather conditions are already setting in around the world.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said emissions must be reduced by 45% by 2030 from 2030 levels to stay below 1.5 ° C.

The new final draft text will be discussed before the 6 p.m. UK time deadline for the end of talks. However, previous Cop summits have a habit of continuing until Saturday and sometimes Sunday.

More updates coming soon …

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