COP26: PM calls on nations to pull out the stops as draft agreement published

COP26: PM calls on nations to pull out the stops as draft agreement published

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is returning to the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow – urging nations to “pull out all the stops” to limit warming. The first draft of an agreement setting out how countries will cut emissions to avoid temperature rises of above 1.5C has been published. The agreement – or “cover decision” – sets out what negotiators hope will be the outcome of the COP26 talks.It encourages richer countries to scale up support for poorer nations. The seven-page draft agreement focuses on adaptation – helping countries deal with the effects of climate change – and finance, a controversial issue because poorer countries blame richer countries for not contributing enough. The document says meeting the goal to limit global warming to 1.5C – which countries pledged to try to pursue under the Paris climate accord – needs meaningful and effective action in “this critical decade”.

The agreement, which was published by the UK Cop26 presidency, will have to be negotiated and agreed by countries attending the talks.Scientists have warned that keeping temperature rises to 1.5C – beyond which the worst impacts of climate change will be felt – requires global emissions to be cut by 45% by 2030 and to zero overall by mid-century.The document may be just seven pages long but it attempts to steer COP26 towards a series of significant steps that will prevent global temperature rises going above 1.5C this century.Perhaps the most important part of that is getting countries to improve their carbon cutting plans. To that end this draft decision urges parties to “revisit and strengthen the 2030 targets in their nationally-determined contributions, as necessary to align with the Paris Agreement temperature goal by the end of 2022”.

It will be interesting to see how countries such as China, India, Brazil and Saudi Arabia respond to this request to put new plans on the table by the end of next year. There is some comfort for developing countries to see that their financial needs are recognised as countries are asked to mobilise climate finance “beyond $100bn a year” and the draft welcomes steps to put in place a much larger, though as yet unspecified, figure for support from 2025.Loss and damage, an issue of key importance to the developing world, is included in the draft with encouragement to richer countries to scale up their action and support including finance for poorer nations.The document also calls on countries to accelerate the phase out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels – but has no firm dates or targets on this issue.

Campaigners will be happy to see the inclusion of the document and hope that it will survive into the final text. There is still much to be done. “The prime minister stated that he would be meeting with ministers and negotiators in order to discuss the progress made and areas where there are still gaps. He stated that this is a bigger issue than any one country, and it was time for countries to come together for the benefit of our planet and our people.  We must do everything possible to keep 1.5C under control. A coalition of countries that are at risk from climate change, together with the US, European and other nations, is pressing for countries in the next year to submit action plans in line with limiting global warming to 1.5C and by 2023 to produce long-term plans to achieve the target. A number of side deals were made last week. More than 100 world leaders pledged to end deforestation by 2030. However, the US and EU announced a global partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. This is a way to reduce global warming quickly.

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