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Tuesday 21 March 2023 Dublin: 11°C
Leah Farrell File image of Eamon Ryan.
# cop26
COP26 draft cover deal 'good' but needs to be 'strengthened', Eamon Ryan says
A draft version of a potential agreement for the UN climate summit was released this morning.

THE DRAFT OF a cover deal for the COP26 summit is “good” but needs more elements added to it, the Environment Minister has said.

The initial draft of the deal that could be agreed by countries at the UN climate conference urges nations to strengthen their emissions-cutting plans for this decade within the next year.

The draft ‘cover decision’ published this morning urges countries to set out long-term strategies by the end of next year to reach net-zero emissions by around mid-century. 

The plan as it stands also calls on countries to accelerate the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies. This would be significant if it makes it into the final text of any potential agreement, but experts believe it is unlikely to remain in the deal. 

Speaking to reporters in Glasgow, Eamon Ryan said the draft deal was “broadly welcomed” by EU negotiators. The EU negotiation team represents Ireland and the other countries in the bloc at COP26 talks. 

Activists have said the plan is not strong enough to represent the radical changes needed to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. 

Greenpeace International executive director Jennifer Morgan said the draft deal was “not a plan to solve the climate crisis”.

“It’s a polite request that countries maybe, possibly, do more next year,” she said.

Ryan agreed with Morgan’s comments, saying “she’s right, but there’s also a real fear that it could be reduced, it could be cut, it could be undermined”. 

“I remember that Irish negotiators in Paris said what you don’t want to see is text shortened. This is legal text, legal structures and therefore holding the line on what we have in that is really important, and that is not a small thing,” Ryan said. 

The sense I had talking to the European Commission and to negotiators is that there’s real risk of that.

“A lot of the new and innovative measures – even though it might not be as strong as you want on ambition or around climate finance or loss and damage, but there’s a lot of good innovative new stuff in it.

“It’s quite good text but, in my mind, it needs to be strengthened.”

There will likely be further versions of the draft text in the next few days. 

“It will evolve,” the minister said. “But my main concern is that it’s added to rather than taken away from.”

The overarching cover decision will represent the potential agreement yet to be reached at the summit, but the more technical documents and agreements will be what officials around the world will be focusing on in the days ahead. 

“There’s a real risk that we’ll all just huddle around the cover text and not look at the real details of all the other negotiation strands,” the minister said. 

The minister also said it would be a “disgrace” to let geopolitics take centre stage at the summit.

“If this COP was allowed to be overtaken with US versus China political narrative, which might make it look good in Congress but it sure as hell wouldn’t make it be good for the planet I don’t think, so I think we have to avoid that. 

If [geopolitics] got in the way of a good climate deal, it would be a shame to say the least.

Also speaking at COP26 today, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said the draft deal is a “good start” and the EU is examining the finer details of it. 

“I think what this week needs to do is create the sense of urgency and crisis, quite frankly, around what’s happening and the pace of climate change,” Coveney said. 

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