COP26 Draft Calls for More Action to Tighten Climate Goals

By BLOOMBERG

Countries will be asked to strengthen their national climate blueprints by the end of next year to bring them in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement, according to an early draft document emerging from COP26 negotiations.

It also calls on the United Nations to report every year on what the overall impact of countries’ climate plans is on global warming. At the moment, they put the planet on course for 2.7 degrees Celsius of warming.

The draft — which was released before dawn after late-night wrangling — goes some way to step up action this decade, which is considered a crucial moment to stem global warming. Still, some of the worst polluters, for example India, still haven’t submitted an official plan since 2016, and it’s not clear if these conclusions will be enough to spur more action.

Greenpeace said it wasn’t good enough.

“It’s a polite request that countries maybe possibly do more next year,” the group said in a statement.

The U.K. and U.S. have been calling for more action to measure climate blueprints more regularly  — climate envoy John Kerry said on Tuesday it would be “insanity” not to measure them yearly. The latest draft reflects that push. Ministers will meet each year to assess plans for the years to 2030.

The draft also calls on countries to accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels.

The U.K. presidency of COP26 has made it a mantra of the Glasgow summit to “keep 1.5 alive.” The Paris Accord, clinched after much diplomatic gymnastics in 2015, set a goal of curbing temperature increases to well below 2 degrees, with efforts to approach 1.5 degrees. 

That has allowed countries to interpret the temperature range as they wished. Now the U.K. has set itself a goal to get countries to focus more on 1.5 degrees — which scientists say would have a much more manageable fallout — and on what they need to do to achieve that.

The new draft barely goes beyond the Paris language, though it notes that “limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees by 2100 requires rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions.” There’s been pushback from at least two countries against any attempts to enshrine a goal of 1.5 degrees in the statements.

The real test of the document will be how countries react. Over the coming hours, different blocs will set out their positions, ratcheting up the negotiations.