COP26: ‘Very bad signal’ – fossil fuel phrase must not disappear from agreement, says EU’s Timmermans
A promise to end fossil fuel subsidies must not disappear from a final COP26 agreement despite opposition, the European Union’s climate policy chief has warned.
Major fossil fuel exporters including Saudi Arabia and Australia have been accused of trying to water down or remove a section in the draft version that calls for an accelerated “phasing-out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels”.
But that language “has to be part of the conclusion here today,” Frans Timmermans told reporters in Glasgow. “Removing it would be an extremely, extremely bad signal.”
Such a phrase has never made it through to a final United Nations climate text and the landmark Paris Agreement does not namecheck fossil fuels.
Mr Timmermans also hit back at claims the EU needed to aim higher at COP26. Earlier Laurence Tubiana, a key architect of the Paris Agreement, had said in Glasgow: “if the EU won’t lead now… no one else will.
“We have 24 hours to achieve ambition, credibility and solidarity in Glasgow,” said Ms Tubiana, CEO of the European Climate Foundation. “The EU needs to ensure we get a credible and ambitious package.”
In a vehement rebuttal, Mr Timmermans said the EU had been “very active on all fronts” and negotiating on “every single subject”.
“There’s many things in life that perhaps you don’t see that are still happening,” he said, adding the EU had nothing “to be ashamed of”.
Sepi Golzaro-Munro, director of climate think tank ECIU, suggested the European Union was “losing its mojo”.
She said last night’s surprise United States-China climate pact was “vague enough that it could go either way” – calling on the EU to “steer the big kids to raise ambition across the board”.
“For such a powerful bloc to play shrinking violet while the big emitters – US & China – cut a deal that could stall ambition is simply not befitting of a global power committed to a successful climate deal,” she told Sky News.
Commentators last night welcomed news that the world’s largest two emitters had agreed to cooperate on climate, but pointed out that detail remained patchy.
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Earlier the COP president Alok Sharma sounded the alarm on a “number of issues” outstanding on funding for developing nations, urging progress before we are “literally out of time”.
Mr Sharma said we have taken a “significant step further towards a comprehensive, ambitious and balanced set of outcomes” which he hopes to be adopted before the clock runs down on the summit.
“But we are not there yet,” he added. “I’d like to address the critical need to step up efforts today to get to where we need to be to realise substantive outcomes on finance.”
In a damning assessment of the draft texts so far, Teresa Anderson, of Climate Action Network (CAN), said afterwards: “COP26 is the opportunity to prove that you are serious about preventing a deepening of the climate crisis.
“But instead of doing what is needed, your draft decisions do not provide justice or offer support to the millions already facing loss and damage due to climate change.
“Nor do they keep 1.5C in sight,” said Ms Anderson, whose organisation represents around 1,500 environmental groups from around the world at COP talks.
The UK as host of the talks wanted the aim to be “keeping 1.5C alive”, referring to the more ambitious warming goal in the Paris Agreement. An independent assessment on Tuesday predicted the world was still way off track, instead on course for 2.4C of warming.
To limit warming to 1.5C, the world needs to cut carbon emissions by 45% by 2030, UN scientists say. The draft text urges nations to revisit and strengthen their 2030 carbon emissions targets by the end of 2022.
Meanwhile, an updated version of the agreement from the summit had been expected on Thursday morning but will now come overnight. However, a set of fresh draft texts were released.
These cover tricky but crucial issues including financing for poor countries to adapt to climate change, improving the transparency of the process.
Mr Sharma had called for “greater impetus” on issues surrounding rules for carbon trading, often referred to as “Article 6” of the Paris Agreement. It’s proponents say carbon trading is crucial to reaching net zero as it allows emissions to be balanced out. The last two COP talks have tried and failed to determine the rules for a global carbon trading system.
The summit is due to finish on Friday is likely to spill over into the weekend, as previous COPs have done.
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