The director of the UN climate conference He acknowledged on Wednesday that countries’ climate promises so far will do little to control global warming, and urged countries to “get down to business” to reach an ambitious deal during the remaining two days of talks.
The earlier draft of the COP26 conclusions, had a mixed response from activists and climate experts. Nearly 200 countries present in Glasgow have until the close of the two-week meeting on Friday to agree on a final text.
In an implicit recognition that current promises are insufficient to prevent a climate catastrophe, the draft calls on countries to “review and strengthen” by the end of next year their targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
“What we agreed to in Glasgow will shape the future of our children and grandchildren,” said the Briton. Alok Sharma, president of the COP26. “So I’m asking everyone, collectively, to roll up our sleeves and get down to business.”
The European Union’s climate policy chief, Frans Timmermans, delivered a similar message.
Let’s not give in to anything and continue to be more ambitious. We call on those countries that have not yet done so, to redouble their efforts, “Timmermans told reporters.
Negotiations are likely to be tough for the next two days.
While some developed countries point the finger at major polluters like China, India and Russia, the poorest nations accuse the rich world of failing to deliver on its promises of financial aid to tackle the ravages of climate change.
The overall goal of the conference is to keep alive hopes of limiting global temperatures to 1.5 ° Celsius above pre-industrial levels, which is far out of reach based on countries’ current emission reduction commitments.
The ambitious target was set in the landmark 2015 Paris agreement. Since then, scientific evidence has grown that crossing the 1.5 ° threshold would trigger sea level rises, floods, droughts, wildfires and storms significantly worse than those that are already happening, with irreversible consequences.
End of coal
The document urged countries to accelerate efforts to stop burning coal and phase out subsidies for fossil fuels, targeting directly coal, oil and gas, which produce carbon dioxide, the main contributor to climate change caused by the man. However, it did not set a date to remove them.
Overall, the talks are viewed as unlikely to generate enough promise to meet the 1.5 degree Celsius target this week.
But by setting rules to require countries to update their pledges next year – a key request from nations most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change – their goal is at least to keep the target in sight.
Sharma said he will not seek an extension of the conference beyond Friday’s scheduled closing.
The research group Climate Action Tracker (CAT) had said on Tuesday that all the national promises made so far to reduce greenhouse gases by 2030 would allow, if delivered, the Earth’s temperature to rise 2.4 degrees Celsius by 2100.
CAT said that if longer-term goals, many of which are not supported by concrete action plans, are also met, warming could stay below 2 ° C.
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, from the environmental group WWF, said that the text “recognizes a deficit of ambition and the scale of the task that lies ahead”, and that it should be “a floor, not a ceiling.”
Greenpeace, for its part, said the draft is an inadequate response to the climate crisis, calling it “a courteous request that countries may possibly do more next year.”
Helen Mountford, vice president of the World Resources Institute, said the explicit reference to fossil fuels is a breakthrough over previous climate summits, warning that major emitters could try to eliminate it as talks continue.
“The real problem will be whether it can be sustained,” he said.