COP26: Contested opinion on coal and fossil fuel subsidies hangs in the balance | Climate news

Key requests for countries to step up their climate action plans as soon as next year and phase out certain fossil fuels have survived the recent round of negotiations at COP26, although the latter opinion has been watered down.

An earlier draft text urging nations to “speed up phasing out coal and subsidies for fossil fuels“was challenged by major oil and gas exporters Saudi Arabia and Russia and coal – dependent India.

The second draft, published on Friday morning, calls on the parties to “[accelerate] the phasing out of undiminished coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels. “

Will they make a deal? Decisive COP negotiations begin on the last day

Climate activists demonstrate during the Cop26 summit in Glasgow.  Image Date: Wednesday, November 10, 2021.
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Protesters have signaled that they will see what happens to the sentence as the text evolves

Unlimited means that coal consumption is not mitigated with technologies to reduce emissions, such as by capturing the carbon and storing it (CCS). Insertion of the word “inefficient” allows for the continuation of certain subsidies, such as heating for poor households, but also provides scope for countries wishing to continue subsidies for large fossil fuels.

The statement can still be removed from or changed in the final text, which nearly 200 nations are struggling to agree on before the clock strikes the summit.

But the draft document has already been criticized by proponents.

Global Witness advocate Murray Worthy said that “the false promise of CCS should not be used as an excuse to keep the coal industry alive,” the technology “has never materialized on a large scale.”

Another crucial section that has more or less remained in the text is a request for countries to increase their climate action plans – known as NDCs – for the 2020s before the end of next year.

Laurence Tubiana, a key architect behind the Paris Agreement, told Sky News that “the biggest problem we face” is that the countries are still “not ready for the 2030 challenge”.

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How far away from a COP26 agreement are we?

Scientists say the world must reduce emissions by almost half by 2030 to stop the planet from warming by more than 1.5 C – the more ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement. But current plans have the world heading for about 2.4 degrees warming.

“1.5C is not negotiable,” said Tina Stege, a climate envoy from the Marshall Islands who is gradually disappearing underwater. “We need to keep coming back to the table. We need to see 1.5C-compliant NDCs and long-term strategies delivered by the big issuers next year.

“This text will only work if we have subsidies for fossil fuels and coal included,” she said, urging to strengthen the language again.

“Aid for fossil fuels pays for our own destruction.”

Mrs Stege also welcomed the urge to “at least double” the cash that developing countries send to developing countries to help them adapt to the changing climate.

Greenpeace’s international CEO Jennifer Morgan said: “Today is an absolutely critical day in the fight to defend the 1.5C target of self-interest, which will do everything in its power to evade its responsibility for the climate crisis. [the Paris Agreement] in danger.”

She also accused some nations of making a “conscious and cynical effort” to exploit proposals for an international CO2 market that would allow “cheating, greenwashing and loopholes”.

Businesses or executives are accused of greenwashing when their language or images are perceived as deceiving people by exaggerating their green credentials or obscuring the environmental impact of their products or policies.

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COP President Alok Sharma MP has warned that the negotiations must be concluded no later than 18:00 tonight, but it is not unusual for the COP negotiations to spread over the weekend.

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