COP26 Pledge To Phase-Out Fossil Fuels Gets Watered Down Overnight
A key pledge in the COP26 deal on phasing out fossil fuels has been watered down in the latest draft, released hours before the summit is due to end.
The first draft of the final agreement, which will decide whether the Glasgow summit has been a success, included a line calling for the accelerated phase-out of coal and fossil fuel subsidies.
The latest draft instead refers to “unabated coal power” and “inefficient subsidies”, which are understood to mean direct assistance for the extraction of fossil fuels, rather than state funds for household fuel poverty, such as the UK’s Warm Homes Discount.
Unabated coal means power plants without technology attached that can capture the emissions and store them.
The new draft was released after a long night of negotiations, and with many issues left to resolve it is now almost certain that talks will pass the official deadline of 6 pm Friday.
Negotiators were not expecting the pledge on coal and fossil fuels to make it into the final text, so its inclusion in the second draft has been taken as a positive sign.
The wording matches the similar language used by the G20.
If it makes it to the final text, it would be the first time that fossil fuels have been explicitly mentioned in a final agreement at the annual climate summit.
But activists say the language has been “critically weakened”, leaving it open to interpretation by major polluters…
A line that “urged” countries to resubmit new plans to cut their emissions as soon as next year has been changed to a “request”, which the UN says is stronger language in an official document.
The UN says “urging” is the strongest language for a call in an official document such as this, but negotiators believe “requests” is strong enough to make countries return.
Getting major polluters to come back with new plans next year for emissions cuts before 2030 is seen as the best hope for achieving the summit’s aim to keep warming to 1.5°C.
Analysts say we are on track for more like 2.4°C of warming on the basis of current 2030 emissions cut promises.
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