A new version of the draft COP26 agreement was published this Friday morning (12) and maintains an unprecedented reference to fossil fuels, despite a broad campaign by the main producers of coal, oil and gas for its complete removal.
The content of this draft, however, is weaker than the previous one, using a more attenuated language that, in some cases, may be open to different interpretations.
The draft was released on the last day of the Glasgow Climate Summit, held over nearly two weeks, but it is not yet the final text – it is necessary that all 197 parties present agree with it, and it is possible that other passages will be toned down .
Keeping some mention of fossil fuels, however, puts pressure on major coal, oil and gas producers such as Saudi Arabia, China, Russia and Australia, which are trying to weaken or remove that point, according to two sources familiar with the conversations.
Officials from the four countries did not respond to the request from the CNN to comment on the matter.
The pressure on fossil fuel producers, however, to keep the tone of the document on this issue unchanged is increasing.
The new COP26 text calls for accelerating the “phasing out of unshakable energy from coal and inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels.”
The addition of the word “unshakeable” essentially means that countries can continue to use coal if they are able to capture large amounts of the carbon dioxide they emit.
The concept is controversial as the technology to fully capture greenhouse gases is still under development. And “inefficient” was also added, leaving this part of the agreement quite open to interpretation.
However, if any line on fossil fuels is maintained, it would be the first climate agreement by the Conference of the Parties to make any mention of the role of coal, oil and gas, the biggest contributors to the man-made climate crisis.
“It’s always a kind of exchange, balance. The fact that we include the elimination of fossil fuel and coal subsidies in the text is really new and important,” said Helen Mountford, vice president of climate and economics at the World Resources Institute, in a briefing.
“The fact that they added ‘unshakeable’ on the coal front and ‘inefficient’ on the fossil fuel subsidies front, compared to the text a few days ago, definitely takes the negotiated text to a comfortable tone from other forums. So I would expect some countries like Saudi Arabia to be pushing to add the inefficient before fossil fuel subsidies.”
While it is progress on the political level, the deal is much weaker than what scientists say is needed for the world to contain global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The latest UN climate science report showed that the world needs to halve emissions this decade to keep that limit within reach.
Decrease in pitch
The language of the new project accordingly is smoother compared to the first iteration in several sections. This is normally expected in climate negotiations, and the final deal could be even weaker.
While the first draft of the agreement “called on” countries to come back with stricter targets for cutting emissions by the end of next year, the new one only “asks” them to do so.
And while the first draft “noted with serious concern” that the money provided to developing countries to deal with the climate crisis was insufficient, the latest draft just omits the word “serious”. The question of who should pay for the impacts of the crisis became the main obstacle in the negotiations.
Calls for the world’s richest countries to provide more money were strengthened somewhat in the second draft, however, by setting more specific deadlines and urging developed countries to at least double the amount of money transferred to the developing world by 2025 to help them adapt to the crisis.
Money for adaptation had become the main obstacle to the negotiations.
This Friday’s draft agreement, published by the COP26 presidency, also maintains in the text the passage that says the world should aim to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The document “recognizes that the impacts of climate change will be much smaller in the increase in temperature of 1.5°C compared to 2°C and resolves to seek efforts to limit the increase in temperature to 1.5°C”.
To do this, “rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions” are needed, the document says.
That tone is in line with the latest science data, which shows the world must limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels to prevent the climate crisis from escalating and approaching a catastrophic scenario.
An analysis published on Tuesday indicated the world was on track to warm by 2.4 degrees Celsius. That would mean that the risks of extreme droughts, forest fires, floods, catastrophic rise in sea levels and food shortages would increase dramatically, scientists say.
Reference: CNN Brasil