COP26 draft agreement: new deal explained - what’s in the text from Glasgow 2021 climate change conference?

COP26 is set to come to an end, with a draft agreement being set out to detail what will be done by countries to combat climate change - but what is in text?

Efforts to strike agreement on climate action have continued at the COP26 talks, as the Glasgow summit went into overtime.

On Friday afternoon countries set out their views on the latest drafts of the agreements that could be secured at the UN conference, which had been published earlier in the day.

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Despite promises that progress has been made since the start of the climate summit in Glasgow, critics have said the draft agreement fails to go far enough, with language around issues such as fossil fuels being “softened”.

By what exactly is the draft agreement, what does it say and will it help to keep the target of 1.5 degrees alive?

What is the COP26 draft agreement?

The COP26 draft agreement is a new treaty to be signed by all parties involved with the climate summit.

The main aim of the agreement is to build on the promises made in the Paris Agreement in 2015 to keep the 1.5 degree target alive.

Throughout the conference, world leaders and delegates have reiterated the need to keep global warming from rising about 1.5 degrees.

This is in line with a warning from scientists that vulnerable countries will see extreme climate change effects if global warming rises above that.

What does the draft agreement say about fossil fuels?

In a previous draft of the agreement, a hard line was taken on fossil fuels.

The agreement called on countries to “to accelerate the phasing-out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels”.

Despite this, a draft released on Friday morning (12 November) featured much more watered down language while speaking about fossil fuels.

Rather than calling on countries to phase out coal and subsidies for fossil fuels, the agreement now encourages countries to opt for cleaner energy sources, “including by rapidly scaling up clean power generation and accelerating the phaseout of unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels”.

What else does the draft agreement say?

An initial draft of the agreement showed that there was a focus on reducing emissions and a focus on climate finance.

It has urged richer nations to “urgently and significantly scale up” their climate finance to help vulnerable countries.

The agreement says that richer countries should scale up to £100 billion in climate finance to achieve this, with a deadline of 2025 now included in the draft.

In the draft document, there are also calls for countries to “revise and strengthen” their 2030 targets for cutting global emissions and a “request” that those involved set out long-term strategies to reach net-zero emissions.

The “request” to set out long-term strategies comes after it was found that current plans, created under the Paris Agreement in 2015, would see global warming rising about 2.4 degrees. Scientists have said that 45% of the world’s emissions would need to be cut by 2030 to reach the 1.5 degree target.

As a result of weaker language in the newest draft, many have said that the agreement has not gone far enough to make any real change.

US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry at COP26

What has each country said about the draft agreement?

There has been a mixed reaction to the draft agreement from the countries involved.

Russia has called on other nations to “not drag down negotiations” with the Russian convoy adding: “We need to show a clear signal on the further steps we are intending to undertake jointly to further climate agenda.”

He also called for more detail on the mechanism to set up carbon trading between countries - something which has been largely ignored despite being a key element of the Paris Agreement in 2015.

Representing the EU, executive vice president Fran Timmermans said: “It’s quite a thought to understand that, if we succeed, he’ll be living in a world that’s liveable, he’ll be living in an economy that is clean with everything at peace with his environment.

“We need to be able to say, when we meet again in Egypt next year, we’ve done it, we’re on the track for 1.5C.”

John Kerry, on behalf of the United States, gave the American thumbs up to the draft and described spending money on fossil fuel subsidies as “insanity”.

He said: “We are struggling each year to find money, but 2.5 trillion dollars in the last five or six years went into subsidies for fossil fuel. That’s the definition of insanity.

“We’re allowing it to feed the very problem we’re here to try to cure. It doesn’t make sense.”

However, China criticised the agreement for a lack of detail in how to achieve the $100billion finance pledge for vulnerable nations.

China’s COP26 representative said: “China is willing to support the UK presidency in agreeing on an outcome that is science-based but also rules-based, that has balanced elements of mitigation, adaptation and finance and has appropriate wording.”

The sentiment of a lack of detail over financing was echoed by Saudi Arabia, whose representative said: “I’m not going to go into the details of the current decision, but the one overarching discussion we are hearing is the ambition for keeping the 1.5 C alive. This is a no brainer. We all know that in the room. Nobody disagrees in the room.

“The question is how we’re going to do that. On what grounds we are going to do that?”

Kenya’s envoy took the mic to remind delegates that for the country and other African nations, the target of 1.5 is “not just a statistic”.

He said: “That is why in Kenya and Africa, we cry and we bleed. We bleed when it rains. We cry when it doesn’t rain. So for us 1.5C is not just is not a statistic. It is a matter of life and death.”

He added that richer nations who were failing to deliver on a finance plan were “shattering” Kenya’s trust , saying: “I think one of the recommendations that need to come in decisions here is the major emitters must resubmit their (nationally determined contributions) before COP27 and align them with 1.5C.”

What has the reaction been from others and will the agreement pass?

Peter Betts, former lead UN climate negotiator for the EU, and UK, believed that the new wording was stronger, but the World Resources Institute (WRI) think tank believed otherwise.

Helen Mountford, WRI vice-president for climate and economics, claimed that the new draft had strengthened commitments to finance and loss and damage, but that inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies “does weaken that a little”.

Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband warned: “It’s clear that the aim of this summit to keep 1.5 alive is in mortal peril.

“There has been some welcome progress on strengthening the pathway out of Glasgow in the new draft.

“But there is still too much ambiguity about the responsibility of all countries to align their targets with 1.5C and important language on keeping fossil fuels in the ground has been watered down.

“It is absolutely vital that there is no backsliding, no fudges and no bending over backwards for the big emitters over the next crucial hours.”

Jennifer Morgan, Greenpeace International executive director, said: “It could be better, it should be better, and we have one day left to make it a lot, lot better.”

The talks are expected to go well into the night at the least, with new versions of texts set to be published later on Friday and countries due to come back to another meeting in the evening.

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