Climate talks resume, cautious coal phaseout still on table
Glasgow: Negotiators at the this year’s UN climate talks were poring over fresh proposals aimed at sealing a deal that could credibly be said to boost the world’s efforts to tackle global warming.
British officials chairing the talks in Glasgow, Scotland, released new draft agreements early Saturday after shuttle diplomacy continued past the official Friday evening deadline. US climate envoy John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua both indicated cautious optimism late Friday that talks were moving forward.
A proposal for the overarching decision retains contentious language calling on countries to accelerate “efforts towards the phase-out of unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.”
But in a new addition, the text says nations will recognize “the need for support towards a just transition” — a reference to calls from those working in the fossil fuel industry for financial support as they wind down jobs and businesses.
Alok Sharma, the British official chairing the talks, said he hoped countries would clinch an ambitious agreement in Glasgow.
“I hope the colleagues will rise to the occasion,” Sharma told The Associated Press as he walked into the conference venue.
Some campaign groups said the current proposals were not strong enough.
“Here in Glasgow, the world’s poorest countries are in danger of being lost from view, but the next few hours can and must change the course we are on,” said Tracy Carty of Oxfam. “What’s on the table is still not good enough.”
In another proposal, countries are “encouraged” to submit new targets for emissions reduction for 2035 by 2025, and for 2040 by 2030, establishing a five-year cycle. Previously, developing countries were expected to do so only every 10 years.
The proposed agreement states that in order to achieve the 2015 Paris accord’s ambitious goal of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) by the end of the century compared with pre-industrial times, countries will need to make “rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, including reducing global carbon dioxide emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 relative to the 2010 level and to net zero around mid-century, as well as deep reductions in other greenhouse gases.”
Scientists say the world is not on track to meet that goal yet, but various pledges made before and during the two-week talks, which are now in overtime, have brought them closer.
The latest draft agreement expresses “alarm and utmost concern that human activities have caused around 1.1C (2F) of global warming to date and that impacts are already being felt in every region.”
Divisions remained on the issue of financial support sought by poor countries for the disastrous impacts of climate change they will increasingly suffer in future — the United States continued to have deep reservations.
Progress was being made on the sticky issue of carbon markets, known as “Article 6,” rules for which have eluded previous talks going back to 2015. The idea is to unleash the power of trading carbon reduction measures, with poorer nations getting money, often from private companies, for measures that reduce carbon in the air.
It provides “strong” provisions to prevent double counting of offsets — a longtime point of contention — and allows about 100 million tons of carbon credits to be carried over from previous years and agreements, a “good result,” said Environmental Defense Fund Vice President Kelly Kizzier, a former European Union negotiator and expert on carbon market negotiations.