Cop26 may be extended as criticism mounts over insufficient commitments on fossil fuels

Nov. 11, 2021

COP26 delegates were warned today that negotiations on climate action may have to be extended through the weekend, as criticism mounts over serious shortfalls on fossil fuel commitments.

The UN conference in Glasgow is due to close on Friday after 12 days of talks between 27 member states and delegates from more than 100 nations, but there has been concern about the use of weak and non-committal language.

Experts warned today that current commitments in the Cop26 draft agreement, which was first published on Wednesday and will continue to be tinkered with in the coming days, are being seriously undermined by the woefully insufficient commitments on fossil fuels.

Environmental experts have said the target of a 1.5°C rise in global temperatures needs to be kept alive to allow humanity to survive, but current oil, gas and coal commitments at Cop26 would not be adequate.

Campaigning organisation said success of the summit would be measured based on whether oil, gas and coal production is fully addressed.

The group called for a timeline for action and solid commitments to an equitable phase-out where rich, fossil fuel-producing countries lead and support less wealthy, import-dependent nations to be part of the transition.

Climate Action Network UK director Catherine Pettengell said: “This Cop really had to deliver, avert that disaster and had to act.

“Looking at the draft that we have, a lot of the elements are in there, but the question I’m left with is where is the ambition, the vision of the Paris Agreement made real, defusing the doomsday device of our own making?

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“This is not a moment for compromise, to allow the process of negotiations to negotiate down to the lowest common denominator.

“Anything that falls short of the science or moral obligation has no place in the decision text.”

She underlined the importance of moving to 1.5°C of warming, warning we cannot leave Cop26 without an agreement on the way forward to getting us there in the next year or so.

She said the Westminster government had not done the necessary preparation to get the agreement the world needs, meaning talks are now “going to the wire.”

Romain Ioualalen, global policy campaign manager at Oil Change International, said that scientists all agree that to limit warming to 1.5°C, the expansion of fossil fuel production globally must end, stopping the damage done to the global South.

He said the subsidies which currently support oil and gas corporations should be transferred to pay for loss and damages in developing countries.

On the US-China joint agreement announced on Wednesday, Chatham House research director Bernice Lee warned that the agreement “is really the floor not the ceiling in terms of their ambition that we’re striving to see in the final deal that would be the Glasgow pact.”

Those facilitating the talks in Glasgow warned a deal was still possible, with United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres warning nations not to make “hollow” promises on tackling climate change, telling the Cop26 conference the announcements made are far from enough.

Cop26 president Alok Sharma said delegates have “no choice but to strain every sinew” to make the climate summit a success.

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Mr Sharma added the last phase of the talks is focusing on finding “ways forward” on finance and carbon markets, having worked on the subject extensively over the past year.

Front-line activists have said that the discussions at Cop26 should not be applauded.

Youth climate campaigner Vanessa Nakate warned that the planet was “on the verge of the abyss” and the science was “unequivocal” about reducing carbon emissions.

She told the climate conference that thousands of activists “do not see the success that is being applauded” at the summit.

Expressing her scepticism at pledges made by world leaders and businesses, she said: “Promises will not stop the suffering of the people, pledges will not stop the planet from warming.

“Only immediate and drastic action will pull us back from the abyss.”

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