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Cop26 first draft presidency agreement faces criticism with fossil fuels only mentioned once

© Andrew CawleyCop26 demonstrators in George Square, Glasgow, protesting lack of action on climate change by world leaders.
Cop26 demonstrators in George Square, Glasgow, protesting lack of action on climate change by world leaders.

A draft “cover decision” setting out the potential outcome from the Cop26 climate summit has been published by the UK presidency of the talks.

The document urges countries to “revisit and strengthen” their emissions cutting targets for 2030 in their national action plans by the end of 2022 to meet the goal to try to limit global warming to 1.5C.

The decision, which will have to be negotiated and agreed by countries attending the talks, also urges them to set out plans and policies to hit net zero emissions by or around mid-century, by the end of next year.

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It calls for countries to accelerate the phasing-out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels, and for developed countries to at least double their collective provision of climate finance to help developing countries adapt to climate change, as part of scaling money for poorer nations to tackle the crisis.

The document has faced heavy criticism however, with analysts saying there is a big gap between long-term targets and shorter-term action.

The call for all parties to accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels is the only reference to fossil fuels in the seven-page document.

However, even that is more than some activists were fearing and expecting.

There were concerns that it would not be mentioned at all due to lobbying by countries with large fossil fuel industries.

On Wednesday, Greenpeace International’s executive director Jennifer Morgan was one of the first to react to the draft. She said:  “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.

“It’s a polite request that countries maybe, possibly, do more next year. Well, that’s not good enough and the negotiators shouldn’t even think about leaving this city until they’ve agreed a deal that meets the moment. Because most assuredly, this one does not.

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“We’ve just had a landmark study showing we’re heading for 2.4C of warming. The job of this conference was always to get that number down to 1.5C, but with this text world leaders are punting it to next year. If this is the best they can come up with then it’s no wonder kids today are furious at them.

“The text needs to be much stronger on finance and adaptation and needs to include real numbers in the hundreds of billions, with a delivery plan for richer countries to support less developed nations.

“And we need to see a deal that commits countries to coming back every year with new and better plans until together they get us over the bar and we can stay below 1.5C of warming.

“And while the text calls for an accelerated phaseout of coal and fossil fuel subsidies, wreckers like the Saudi and Australian governments will be working to gut that part before this conference closes.

“Ministers now have three days to turn this around and get the job done here in Glasgow instead of once again kicking the climate can down the road.”

They had called on negotiators to stand up to fossil fuel-producing countries, and insist on “no cheating, no loopholes, no offset scams, and no greenwash”.

Ed Miliband, the shadow business secretary, also weighed in on this morning’s draft Cop26 text: “The last 24 hours have been a devastating reality check on what has actually been delivered at this summit,” he said.

“We are miles from where we need to be to halve global emissions this decade. Today, Boris Johnson needs to stop the spin and confront the reality.

“Given this summit will not deliver anything like what we needed, now he has to turn to plotting a path out of Glasgow that can keep 1.5C alive.”

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown says Boris Johnson needs to do more to ensure COP26 is a success.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said there was a “great deal of ambitious talk” in the draft deal but the “problem is that the the two make or break decisions of this conference are not being made”.

He said further meetings next year were being proposed before nations would commit to cutting emissions by 2030 or formally back the call to rein in temperature rises of above 1.5C.

He described the document as “an admission of prospective failure”.