COP26 Live Updates: Negotiations Are Set to Continue Through the Night

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ImageAt the U.N. climate change conference on Thursday in Glasgow.
Credit…Yves Herman/Reuters

Anxious energy filled the halls of the exhibition center in Glasgow on Friday, where diplomats from nearly 200 countries blew past a deadline for striking a global climate accord, with talks set to continue through the night.

A new draft text was expected on Saturday morning, according to summit organizers, after which countries will weigh in publicly on whether they want further changes.

Going into overtime has become routine at United Nations climate change conferences, which are supposed to last for two weeks.

Diplomats were “overwhelmed at the work still ahead of us,” said Lia Nicholson, who represents small island nations in the negotiations, on Friday evening.

The previous working draft, released Friday morning, called for a doubling of money to help developing countries cope with climate impacts, and called on nations to strengthen their emissions-cutting targets by next year.

But much of the text in the draft — intended to push negotiators toward a deal that all nations can agree on — remained contentious for many countries. Disputes remain over money, the speed of emissions cuts and indeed whether an agreement should even mention “fossil fuels” — the principal cause of climate change, but a term that has never before appeared in a global climate agreement.

The differences, after nearly two weeks of negotiations, signaled that it would be difficult for negotiators to reach the sort of sweeping agreement that activists and scientists had urged before the start of the United Nations talks, known as COP26. Scientific consensus says that the world must slash greenhouse-gas emissions by nearly half by 2030 to stave off the most disastrous effects of global warming. But under countries’ current targets, emissions would continue to rise.

The latest draft text is laced with what, in a diplomatic document, could be described as rage. It “notes with deep regret” that the rich world has not yet delivered the $100 billion annual aid it promised to deliver by last year. It also calls for a doubling of funds by 2025 to help developing countries adapt to the effects of climate change, including extreme weather and rising sea levels.

One of the most divisive questions involves countries of the global north — which have prospered for over a century by burning coal, oil and gas and spewed greenhouse gases into the atmosphere — and whether they should compensate developing countries for the irreparable harms they have caused. The draft proposes a new “technical assistance facility” to help countries with losses and damages, but experts said questions remain on whether the funding should be new and additional.

Still, some experts said the latest draft showed that negotiators were making progress.

“Overall, on balance, this is definitely a stronger and more balanced text than we had two days ago,” said Helen Mountford, vice president of climate and economics at the World Resources Institute.

But with big polluter nations unwilling to phase out fossil fuels fast enough to keep global temperatures from reaching dangerous levels, another dispute is whether they should be required to return with stronger climate targets by the end of next year. The latest draft “requests” that they do so, which is tamer than “urges,” which was used in the previous draft.

Credit…Kacper Pempel/Reuters

There is another major holdup over whether an agreement should include a reference to fossil fuels, the combustion of which is principally responsible for climate change. The draft text released early Friday called on countries to eliminate “inefficient subsidies” for fossil fuels and to accelerate “the phaseout” of coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel. It’s unclear whether that language will stay in the final version, considering that countries like China, India and Poland rely heavily on coal plants.

The U.N. secretary-general, António Guterres, called on negotiators to take stronger action.

“Every country, every city, every company, every financial institution must radically, credibly and verifiably reduce their emissions and decarbonize their portfolios starting now,” he told the conference on Thursday.

Some 200 nations represented at the talks must unanimously agree on every word on the final text.

Alok Sharma, president of the negotiations, has insisted that the talks are to close at the “end” of the day on Friday, though that appeared unlikely. The last negotiations, in Madrid in 2019, were scheduled to end on a Friday, but extended into Sunday afternoon.

Credit…Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

John Kerry, the U.S. special envoy for climate change, on Friday described fossil fuel subsidies as the “definition of insanity,” denouncing measures taken by governments that artificially lower the price of coal, oil or gas.

Speaking at the United Nations climate summit, where negotiators for nearly 200 nations are trying to seek agreement on a deal that averts the worst impacts of climate change, Mr. Kerry called for rapidly phasing out the subsidies. But he defended new language in the latest draft of an agreement that appears to have watered down a push to curb fossil fuels.

The newest version, released early Friday after negotiators haggled into the predawn hours, calls on countries to accelerate “the phaseout of unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels.” The addition of the words “unabated” and “inefficient” was seen by some environmental groups as a loophole that would allow subsidies to continue.

But Mr. Kerry argued that the wording “must stay” in the final agreement because commercial technology to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions could be developed in the future. He said that “knowing what the evidence is” about how sharply global emissions needed to be cut, countries cannot rule out the use of new technologies.

But he spoke forcefully about ending fossil fuel subsidies broadly. The U.N. Development Program recently calculated that the world spends $423 billion each year to subsidize oil, gas and coal, about four times the amount needed to help poor countries address climate change.

“That’s a definition of insanity,” Mr. Kerry said, adding that underwriting oil, gas and coal allows governments “to feed the problem we’re here to cure. It doesn’t make sense.”

Officials from other countries argued that the words “unabated” and “inefficient” should be removed from the agreement.

“We need clear language on the need to eliminate all fossil fuel subsidies, not only the inefficient ones, and to accelerate the phaseout of coal power,” said Andrea Meza, Costa Rica’s environment minister. Tina Stege, the climate envoy for the Marshall Islands, a South Pacific nation threatened by rising sea levels, said, “Fossil fuel subsidies are paying for our own destruction.”

Credit…Getty Images

One of the biggest fights at the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow is whether — and how — the world’s wealthiest nations, which are disproportionately responsible for global warming to date, should compensate poorer nations for the damage caused by rising temperatures.

Rich countries, including the United States, Canada, Japan and much of Western Europe, account for just 12 percent of the global population today but are responsible for 50 percent of all the planet-warming greenhouse gases released from fossil fuels and industry over the past 170 years.

Over that time, Earth has heated up by roughly 1.1 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), fueling stronger and deadlier heat waves, floods, droughts and wildfires….

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