Alok Sharma explains position on coal language
“Blah, blah, blah”, Greta Thunberg’s reaction to Cop26
India waters down coal resolution
Text is imperfect but has support, says Sharma
Success or failure? Cop26 protesters give their verdict
Cop26 agreement ‘looking likely’ today
After two weeks (and a day) of talks and two years of preparations, Cop26 has finally come to an end with the adoption of what is being called the Glasgow Climate Pact – though the reaction is only just beginning. Here’s a roundup of what’s happened so far today:
- 25 hours after the original deadline, the gavel came down on an agreement that will see some progress on keeping the world habitable
- Language on “phasing out” coal was watered down to “phasing down” coal after a dramatic late intervention by India
- Countries will come back at Cop27 in Egypt next year with improved pledges
- Poor countries are angry that their demand for a “loss and damage facility” – essentially, compensation for climate-induced damage – did not make it into the final text
- Reaction to the pact has been mixed – some have hailed progress on key issues, while others have accused leaders of kicking the can down the road.
Things are calming down at the SEC conference centre, but no doubt the reaction will continue to pour in. My colleague Samantha Lock will be taking over shortly, and you can reach her as [email protected] or find her on Twitter at @samantha__lock
A representative of environmental NGOs is given one minute to speak. He is furious: he describes the agreement as “an utter betrayal of people”.
He attacks leaders for offering “empty words”, accuses them of “prioritising profits over black and brown lives”, and says they have “utmost disdain for the science”.
Joeri Rogelj, director of research at Imperial College London, said:
“As a scientist and citizen of this planet, I see reasons to be proud, to be hopeful, and to be deeply concerned. I’m proud because never before has science featured so strongly in the Cop decisions. I’m hopeful because many decisions make critical steps forward.
“Finally, I’m deeply concerned, because climate change is raging and is worsening each year we wait. The progress at Cop26 was the best the world was willing to do at this stage, but it is not enough, not by far. Global emissions need to decline, immediately, rapidly, and extremely urgently.”
Sharma said that the appearance of loss and damage in the text indicated a newly collegiate approach. “For the very first time in any one of these processes, loss and damage has appeared in the text. And that again demonstrates both the change and the way that people are approaching this, being more collegiate.
“And yes, there is work to be done and we will contribute to that. But I think the key issue is to recognise that loss and damage is an issue that deserves a lot of consideration.”
Asked what the consequences should be for countries like Australia which suggested they might refuse the call back to the table next year, Sharma said simply that “all countries signed up to this and it’s an international agreement”.
Sharma was asked how he felt about climate vulnerable communities for whom this deal was not enough.
He said: “I’ve seen for myself that when people talk about 1.5 to keep alive, that’s precisely what it means. So I understand the sense of disappointment. But what was really important for me was to get a deal over the line.”
“Of course I wish that we had managed to preserve the language on coal that was originally agreed. But nevertheless, we do have language on coal on phase down, I don’t think anyone at the start of this process thought that would be retained but it has”.
“That is down to the flexibility and the goodwill shown by many of the parties here today.” He said he wanted to thank ” all the parties who showed such grace in agreeing to it.”
Asked about being emotional during the meeting, he said he had had about six hours’ sleep in the past three days. “You know, it is emotional in the sense that, collectively as a team we have achieved what I suspect very many people doubted probably up until the last few days. So of course, it’s emotional but the hard work starts here”.
Alok Sharma explains position on coal language
Cop26 president Alok Sharma has been asked about countries who complained they were not able to reopen to text around coal.
He explained: “Having heard about what was coming down the line, I thought it was important that we try and build some consensus. I apologise if people felt that the process that took place was was somewhat opaque.
“I did go around and test the language with a whole range of groups and parties. It is because of the trust that the UK has built up in the past few years that people were able to accept the language at the end of the day, very reluctantly of course.”
“The weakening of the text regarding coal and fossil fuels is a clear failure for humanity,” says the Panamanian delegate. “A failure to science, and a failure to future generations.”
“Shame on us.”
Patricia Espinosa, the executive secretary of the UN climate convention, under which Cop26 took place, said:
Negotiations are never easy and while we seek an outcome that is acceptable to all, few return home completely satisfied. But this is the nature of consensus and inclusive multilateralism.
We are disappointed the $100bn pledge remains outstanding and I call upon all donors to make it a reality as by next year. The road to climate action does not end in Glasgow.
Despite [Cop26] accomplishments, we are still far off the trajectory of stabilising global temperature rise at 1.5C. It’s imperative we see more climate action this decade to achieve it. There can be no doubting the urgency of this task. This is a question of the long-term survival of humanity on this planet.
India’s delegate delivers a statement on behalf of the Basic bloc of countries – Brazil, South Africa, India and China. He says they have shown “maximum flexibility” to arrive at an outcome that is acceptable to all, and that wealthy countries must now deliver on their pledges.
He says they are deeply concerned about finances for adaptation, saying not enough public money is being pledged and that the private sector cannot supply the necessary funds.
UK prime minister Boris Johnson has commented on the outcome of Cop26.
Frans Timmermans of the EU, who has given several powerful and emotive speeches over the past days, has commented on the last-minute change of language on coal:
He said: “Let’s be clear, I’d rather not have the change. I was very happy with the language we had.”
But he added it was “like going from 24 carat gold to 18 carat, it’s still gold.”
“We are now making concrete steps to eliminate coal … and that countries that are so dependent on coal are willing to be part of that agreement is astonishing.”
at 4.35pm EST
The delegate from Egypt – where Cop27 will be held next year, in Sharm-el-Sheikh – thanks the UK hosts with a statement written in the form of a UN resolution, which is very much one for the wonks.
At Cop26, EU vice president Franz Timmermans is quoting a famous Glaswegian, comedian Billy Connolly: “Connolly says Scotland has two seasons: July and winter.”
Timmermans says he has not been able to verify that. But points to the “miracle transition” of Glasgow from the depressed post-industrial 1980s to the delightful city of today as evidence that transformations can happen, then says the work to reach 1.5C begins now.
Kevin Rudd, former prime minister of Australia calls out the current government: “While Glasgow has shown the ambition mechanism at the heart of the Paris Agreement is beating, survival for those on the frontline of this climate crisis is still not certain.
“Countries like my own which refused to update their 2030 targets have not simply been granted a leave pass to do nothing for another five years — they will now need to come back to the table by COP27 next year.”
at 4.06pm EST
International activists for Extinction Rebellion have condemned the summit as a waste of time.
Winnie, 30, from Brazil say: “The problem with COP26 is that the tone is exactly the same of the other 25. It is all about the optimistic promise of a better, and yet abstract, future. As if we still have time to think and plan and don’t yet have to act. Climate change effects were present in the lives of people of Global South even before the COP1! And yet, they keep talking about this unrealistic future.”
Ornella, a representative from Argentina, said: “COP26 was a waste of time and resources. They didn’t listen to the best science available: we should act now to reduce emissions and there aren’t real commitments towards a drastic decrease of emissions caused by fossil fuels”.
John Jonathan Olwenyi, a climate and environmental activist from Uganda, said: “The indigenous people who are most affected were not fully represented, there was inequality and imbalance at COP26 to me. I feel it was COP for the rich not the poor. It was yet another registered failure because the same promises that our leaders always make were repeated again.”