Friday, January 21

New draft weakens but now more effective: COP26 update


The climate talks are set to drag into the weekend as delegates are still scrambling over how to curb rising temperatures and who will pay the bill.

The new draft texts released around dawn on Friday were slightly weaker than the previous version. The language asking countries to retry their climate plans for next year has been softened somewhat, and now includes a line that amounts to an opt-out clause.

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A closely watched line on fossil fuels and coal has survived the night, although it has been modified after some resistance from countries like China. The promise now is to phase out “unabated coal” and, in keeping with promises the G-20 has been making for a decade, phase out “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies.

Ministers will meet later this morning to take stock of the negotiations, so watch out for further setbacks. Talks to set rules for global carbon trading, over six years, ran into new hurdles overnight. That is an important criterion for success.

Key developments:

  • Latest draft of published text; ministers to meet later
  • Efforts to create a global carbon market met new hurdles
  • China is likely to choose energy security over ending coal
  • Endgame: what to look for if you’re just tuning in

Last draft of published text (8:14 am)

A new draft of the climate pact that was debated at the COP26 talks in Glasgow on Friday maintains most of the key elements that climate watchers were looking for, albeit with some tweaks.

The latest draft, which was negotiated overnight, now “asks” countries to return with better 2030 climate action plans by next year, rather than “urging” them to do so. It also allows “different national circumstances”, which is seen as a kind of exclusion clause.

The text slightly weakens the language on the request for a phase-out of fossil fuel and coal subsidies. Now he calls for the phasing out of coal power “incessantly” and “inefficient” subsidies for fossil fuels. That line has faced a setback, with many weather watchers hoping that it will already be removed.

In positive news for developing countries, there is a call for rich nations to double the amount of money, by 2025, they spend to help poor countries adapt to climate change.

Germany ready if talks take place on Friday (6:30 am)

Germany is already preparing in case the conference misses the 6pm local time Friday deadline for a final deal, according to the nation’s head of delegation Jochen Flasbarth.

“I am planning to leave here tomorrow, but we have already taken precautions in case it is prolonged,” Flasbarth, a deputy environment minister, said early Friday in an interview with Deutschlandfunk radio.

“Above all, we have to agree on the final legal rules, otherwise the next few years will be very difficult in terms of implementing the Paris Agreement,” he said. Pending issues that still need to be resolved include the exit of coal power, he added. An agreement between the United States and China to cooperate on climate this decade is the summit’s main achievement so far, Flasbarth said.

It is the last scheduled day of COP26, although the talks are likely to last until the weekend.

© 2021 Bloomberg


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