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World leaders urged to help negotiators in push for climate deal as COP26 enters final 48 hours

The conference has entered the last 48 hours of scheduled talks – but could overrun.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

Updated Nov 11th 2021, 7:14 AM

WORLD LEADERS HAVE been urged to help negotiators get a climate deal over the line as COP26 entered the final 48 hours of scheduled talks.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a brief visit back to the summit, where countries are under pressure to increase action to curb dangerous warming, yesterday where he urged leaders not to sit on their hands but to speak to negotiators to give them room to manoeuvre and get a deal done.

Johnson, who headed back to London after his visit, faced calls from the likes of Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and shadow business secretary Ed Miliband to stay for the last days of the talks to push for an ambitious outcome.

His visit came after the UK COP presidency published a first draft of a deal that could be struck in Glasgow, which urged countries to bring forward more ambitious plans for cutting emissions up to 2030 in the next year.

The draft also calls for long term “net zero” plans, as well as action on climate finance, helping poorer countries adapt to the impacts of global warming and to address the loss and damage they will inevitably suffer.

And it calls for an acceleration of phasing out coal and subsidies for fossil fuels, a first for such a UN text,although that is likely to be getting major pushback from some quarters as negotiating teams consider the draft, and will likely be lost from the final text.

Ireland’s reaction

Environment Minister Eamon Ryan said yesterday the draft deal is “good” but needs more elements added to it. 

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. 

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.”

Today, Denmark and Costa Rica are set to announce an alliance focused on phasing out oil and gas, which when quizzed, Johnson said he would look at and that he supported the phasing out of hydrocarbons.

And yesterday, the US and China published a declaration that they would work together on enhancing emissions-cutting action in the 2020s to meet the goals of the Paris climate accord to limit global warming to “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5C.

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Scientists have warned that keeping temperature rises to 1.5C requires global emissions to be cut by 45% by 2030, and to zero overall by mid-century but countries’ plans for this decade leave the world well off track.

New analysis this week warned existing plans up to 2030 put the world on track for 2.4C of warming, well above the goals internationally agreed in the Paris accord to curb temperature rises to “well below” 2C and try to limit them to 1.5C.

With Glasgow failing to close the gap, the pressure is now on countries to agree a deal that will ensure they take more action in the 2020s and keep the 1.5C goal within reach.

With reporting by Orla Dwyer

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