COP26 Live: 1.5℃ target kept alive in new draft

10 November 2021

There is momentum in the negotiations and 1.5 degrees is still within reach. The COP presidency is now pushing parties in the right direction and we hope that developed countries responds by improved commitments on finance instead of downplaying what is now on the table, says Mikael Karlsson, research leader at CCL.

With three official days left, three new draft texts appeared at COP26 on Wednesday morning. The 1.5℃ target is kept alive, but the draft calls parties to strengthen NDC pledges within a year, as well as for yearly analysis and reporting of all NDC:s.

The draft of the cover decision text also calls for parties to “accelerate the phasing-out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels” – in an unusual mention of the infamous f-world: fossil fuels.

I have followed many COP meetings, but I’ve never seen the word “fossil” in formal texts before. This time it should be included and the wording needs to be strengthened. After all, it is basically fossil fuels that all this is about, says Jens Ergon, PhD student at CCL.

Would it hold, it would be the first time fossils fuels are explicitly included in the official agreement. However, the language is short and vague. Only coal is specified and a phase-out of oil and gas is not mentioned.

The wordings on the 1.5℃ target and the effort to speed up the ratcheting up mechanisms of the Paris Agreement can expect pushback, however, and the texts on finance, adaptation and loss & damage are still considered very weak by developing nations and many observers, even though steps forward has been taken on loss & damage.

Reactions on the new texts are mixed. On the one hand, what is proposed opens for a speeded-up process to strengthen short term ambitions on mitigation. On the other hand, the measures are voluntary, and key issues on finance, adaptation and loss & damage remain unresolved.

The language on the 1.5℃ target and strengthened ambitions is apparently pushed by vulnerable countries and the so called High Ambition Coalition, and seemingly also being endorsed by the EU and the USA. Key questions during the coming days are the development on finance and adaptation, as well as how the giants China, India and emerging economies are reacting to any wordings on near term ratcheting up of NDC:s.

Progress, especially on finance and adaptation, seems to be vital. As for now, the feeling among many developing countries is that of an unbalanced agreement, where ambitions to ratchet up mitigation and NDC:s are not met by concrete measures to ratchet up finance and support.

“The text we have now is not enough, let’s acknowledge that”, Mohamed Adow, director of the energy and climate think tank Power Shift Africa, told the audience at a press conference today, adding that “the real dealmaking will go on from now.”

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