COP26: Fossil fuel phase out not included in draft text of climate talks

The first draft has been published of a text for the COP26 talks in Glasgow.

IGas Singleton oil site in West Sussex. Photo: IGas

The document was quickly criticised by some campaigners and commentators for lacking ambition and failing to refer to the phase out of fossil fuels.

The 800-word text, which is described by the UK COP26 presidency as a “non-paper”, was a list of bullet points of key topics and principles which had emerged from discussions with the country delegations.

It recognised the urgency to limit temperature rise to 1.5C and referred to a “critical decade to deliver Paris goals on mitigation, adaptation and finance” and called for gaps to be addressed.

There are now just four days left before the scheduled end of the summit to agree detailed language and detail.

At his daily news conference today, COP26 president Alok Sharma said:

“My priority now is pace. There needs to be a sense of urgency in all our negotiations. The science is clear, we have no time to lose.”

“We need to accelerate the process going forward. We are hoping for a stronger commitment and to close this gap”.

Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, 8 November 2021. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the COP26 organisers, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said the text was at “very early stages” and said: “I definitely hope that we will have more ambition.”

But Greenpeace described the draft text as “exceptionally weak”. It said:

“The text of the agreement must commit to the phaseout of fossil fuels, or it will not achieve the 1.5C goal.

“Getting there means: no cheating, no loopholes, no offset scams, and no greenwash.”

Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International, said she had been to every COP and every time the mention of fossil fuels has been blocked by the same countries.

“What’s very concerning here in Glasgow is that the first draft of the climate pact text is already exceptionally weak.

“Usually, the text starts with some ambition, which then gets watered down. To keep 1.5 alive, four words must be added: ‘fossil fuels phase out’, and countries must come back next year to close the gap.”

Edwin Namakanga, a 27-year-old Ugandan climate activist from Fridays for Future, Most Affected People and Areas, said:

“The result from Glasgow must be the end of new fossil fuels, and there must be proper financial support for countries in the global south.

“We need solidarity and just transition to renewable energy, because anything less is a death sentence for whole peoples, countries and areas.”

Kate Blagojevic, head of climate at Greenpeace UK, said:

“The UK Presidency has let the most vulnerable nations down by supporting such a weak first draft text. Alok Sharma can still fix this and insist world leaders up their game through stronger commitments on phasing out fossil fuels and significantly increasing pledges on adaptation finance in the next draft.”

Today, the former US president, Barack Obama, predicted in a speech to COP26 that finding consensus would not be easy.

Some of the key areas where progress is still needed include missing nationally determined contributions (NDCs) on emissions and ensuring targets and emissions rules are transparent and fair.

Minister Milagros De Camps, of the Dominican Republic. Photo: Livestream

The Alliance of Small Island States said not enough progress had been made at the talks on adaptation or mitigation. Its representative, Milagros De Camps, a deputy minister from the Dominican Republic, said:

“We’re hearing all the right words outside the negotiating room by the world leaders. However, inside, the tactics still seems to be to delay and denial that this is an emergency. So, onlookers are ready to write this off as an exercise in public relations and greenwashing.”

The foreign minister of Tuvalu, Simon Kofe, pre-recorded his speech to COP26 while knee-deep in seawater. He hoped this would highlight how his low-lying Pacific island was at the frontline of climate change.

Amnesty said climate change loss and damage must not be empty words. There must be “concrete action on mobilizing and channelling additional finance to support climate vulnerable communities. Time to pay up for loss and damage”.

Lisa Plattner, of WWF International, said economic losses from climate change could reach $290bn-$580bn a year between now and 2030. The issue of loss and damage must be included in the final agreement and be a permanent item on the COP agenda, she said.

The organisation also called for a ban on double counting of emissions and the carry over of a system of emissions credits that operated under the Kyoto Protocol.

Panel discussion at the People’s Summit, 8 November 2021. Photo: Livestream

The issue of climate adaptation was also discussed today at the Peoples’ Summit, a parallel conference designed to give voices to people most affected by climate change. Link to recording

Kevin Anderson, professor of energy and climate change at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research, said there had to be climate equity both within and between nations.

Climate change decisions were made by the top 1% of global emitters, he said, “so we never, ever talk about equity”.

“The top 1% of global emitters are responsible for twice as much as the bottom 50% of the world’s population.

“We’re not all in this together. We are split up by socio-economics. So that’s the elephant in the room.”

DrillOrDrop reporting from the COP26 climate talks has been made possible by donations from individual readers

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