The draft statement of the COP-26 high-level conference (Summit) on Friday (12/11/2021) asks countries to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. But talks are entering the final hours with no sign of delivering emission cuts to limit global warming symptoms to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
After two weeks of negotiations, delegates produced a summary of progress urging national governments to accelerate the gradual elimination of coal-fired power generation and inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels.
Each of the 200-nation delegations was tasked with working on the Paris accord, even as climate-driven disasters hit countries around the world.
The summit started with a bang, as the world leaders present each made announcements, from commitments to cut methane emissions to plans to save rainforests.
However, progress stalled in technical negotiations which were followed up at the ministerial level.
The day before the shutdown, countries were barely close to agreeing on whether emission reduction plans should be scaled up in the short term, how climate action should be reported, and how to support countries classified as vulnerable.
“The truth is that the atmosphere doesn’t care about commitment. The atmosphere only cares about what we put into it or what we stop putting into it. Humanity will not be saved by promises,” said Ugandan youth activist Vanessa Nakate, Friday (12/11).
The draft language of the text on fossil fuels that was finalized Friday is more nuanced than the previous iteration. The text’s focus is on undiminished coal and inefficient subsidies, rather than cessation of fuel use more generally.
A non-stop coal plant does not apply carbon capture technology, to offset some of the pollutions it produces.
Friday’s draft text also includes a request for countries to come back with more ambitious emission cut plans next year, 3 years earlier than planned.
Hosts England wants COP-26 to lead to commitments from various countries to keep the Paris deal’s 1.5 degree Celsius temperature limit goal within reach.
However, the current national emission reduction plan will all lead to a warming of 2.7 degrees Celsius.
Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) Antonio Guerres on Thursday (11/11/2021) said that countries’ climate plans are empty, without a commitment to rapidly eliminate the use of fossil fuels.
Negotiations took a hit on Wednesday (11/10/2021), when the governments of the United States (US) and China, the two largest emitting countries, launched a joint climate action plan.
While the details are light, observers say the fact has eased fears that US-China relations-following COP-26 would derail talks.
But the level of trust between rich polluters and developing countries remains low after developed countries failed to raise the US$100 billion in annual aid they pledged by 2020.