COP26 has come up with a first draft agreement on November 10 that calls on government to improve substantially by the end of 2022 their emissions reduction targets and long-term strategies for reaching net zero.
The document affirms the global goal of limiting temperature increase to 1.5 degrees, and recognises that the decade until 2030 will be crucial in making any headway in the longer term until 2100. It also recognises the emerging global consensus that the world must reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by 45% by 2030 relative to the 2010 level, and to net zero around 2050.
The document also acknowledges that emissions are in fact set to rise by 13.7% by 2030 if current reduction plans are not improved.
Perhaps the biggest innovation is a call to “accelerate the phasing-out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels.”
This mention of fossil fuels is a major first for a COP conference, as the Paris Agreement in 2015 did not expressly mention coal and fossil fuels.
The document also suggests that the world’s most vulnerable nations should get more financial help from rich countries to deal with the impacts of global warming. It calls for more money to further the understanding of global and local impacts of climate change, response options and adaptation needs.
In terms of finance, the document calls for developed countries to at least double climate finance to developing countries.
It also calls for the private sector, multilateral development banks (MDBs) and other financial institutions to enhance finance mobilisation in order to deliver the scale of resources needed to achieve climate plans. It calls on investors to align their investment activities with the Paris Agreements.
The document now serves as the basis for up to three days of talks in Glasgow, in the hope of reaching a binding agreement unanimously supported by all governments and parties at the conference.
The document also calls on rich countries to provide finance to repair the damage already done by climate change – the Loss and Damage principle – for example, in the forms of hurricanes and flooding.
Finally, the document calls for the Paris Agreement to be implemented in full, including a global stocktaking of current climate policies.
Speaking at the conference, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged world leaders and delegates to reach an agreement.
“The world will find it absolutely incomprehensible if we fail to deliver that,” he said.
He stressed that the conference had achieved considerable consensus in combating climate change.
The draft agreement proposed for the first time uniform agreement by governments of the dangers the world faced, and the need to accelerate the reduction of CO2 emissions.
“The world is closer than it has ever been to signalling the beginning of the end of anthropogenic climate change,” he said.
However, the draft can be easily criticised for a lack of legal enforcement, and although it calls for a new reporting framework to be set up, there are no time limits set.
The same is true for the phase-out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels. What this means is that there is no time limit to call, and no legal requirement for countries to stop promoting the continued production and consumption of oil and gas.
“If the coal and fossil fuel phase-out language survive, that’ll be a first for a COP decision,” said Richard Black, senior associate at the UK-based Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU).
The lack of legal enforcement was also highlighted by Greenpeace, a campaigning group.
“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,” Greenpeace International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan said.
The document is far too weak, as it does not mandate any targets or time limits for reducing emissions, and does not set any financial targets.
“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,” Morgan added.