China and other major polluters oppose a push to speed up the presentation of new emissions targets to the UN as negotiations enter the final part of the COP26 summit.
The UK, US and EU are among those demanding that all countries come up with new targets by the end of 2022, a significant acceleration from the 2025 deadline in the Paris Climate Agreement.
But China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other major executives insist on sticking to the original five-year timeframe in the 2015 Paris Pact.
The UK, as the COP host country, aims to address the issue as one of the major focal points in the final texts that will summarize the conclusions of COP26 when the negotiations end, according to officials.
The first versions of them texts was announced Wednesday morning. The texts will still undergo significant revisions as countries struggle for the language in the coming days.
The document “urges the parties to revise and strengthen the 2030 targets in what is known as nationally determined contributions, as necessary to adapt to the temperature targets of the Paris Agreement by the end of 2022”.
The documents also suggest “accelerating” the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels, but some dealers warned that these provisions were unlikely to survive the negotiations in the coming days.
There remained significant differences between the countries on how to approach the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 C, which was set as ideal in the Paris Agreement.
The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said the talks had gone into “hard yards” and became “tough”, at a low-key press conference on a one-day visit to Glasgow, which was overshadowed by questions about sleaze charges in his party.
The climate summit was in the “nutshell of international climate diplomacy,” he said, but there was “a huge amount to do.”
“We’ve made a difference, I hope… We’ve moved the ball a bit down the pitch, but … we need a targeted push to get us over the line.”
Johnson said countries that had spent six years since the Paris Agreement “patting themselves on the shoulder” were now trying to wriggle out of concrete commitments.
“There really is no excuse, because we know what’s at stake here. We’ve heard it all week,” he said, quoting the head of an island nation who had told him, “if the big countries do not do more, we might as well bomb his islands “.
Current national promises, made by 152 countries ahead of and during the Glasgow summit, set the world on course for a warming of between 2.5 and 2.7 degrees by the end of the century.
To remedy the lack of existing promises, Britain and others had hoped to persuade countries to return with updated climate targets, known as nationally determined contributions, next year.
EU climate chief Frans Timmermans supported his goal on Wednesday, urging countries to “come together next year” to demonstrate how they can reach the 1.5C target.
“The EU and its progressive allies will continue to call for a call for all parties to deliver ambitious NDCs [climate targets] and mid-century net zero strategies, in line with a 1.5C trajectory, ”said Timmermans.
However, developing countries say the text focuses too much on reducing emissions and not enough on funding to adapt to climate change.
The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, approved by 197 countries, aims to limit global warming to well below 2C. However, as the climate impact of 2C becomes more pronounced, an increasing number of countries believe that it is imperative to limit warming to 1.5C, the much more difficult goal.
“The big piece that is missing is finance,” said Jennifer Tollmann, senior policy adviser at the European think tank E3G, referring to the need for rich countries to finance developing countries.
Greenhouse gas emissions will have to fall by about half this decade from about 50 billion tonnes at the moment, to keep the world on track for 1.5-degree warming, according to the UN Environment Program.
The summit must end at 18:00 on Friday, but may run into overtime if the negotiators do not agree on topics, including the timing of new goals, as well as rules for implementing the Paris Agreement.
Additional reporting by Neil Hume
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