COP26: Negotiators Water Down Climate Deal

The latest text was released on the last official day of a conference swarming with oil and gas lobbyists. A final text is still being negotiated. 

UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the climate meeting in Glasgow, Nov. 12. (UNclimatechange, Flickr)

By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams

Climate advocates warned Friday that “the fingerprints of the fossil fuel industry” are all over a COP26 draft decision text released in the waning hours of the summit in Glasgow, Scotland, where campaigners and scientists have implored world leaders to take ambitious steps to curb planet-warming emissions.

The new text—released on the last official day of a conference swarming with oil and gas lobbyists — dampened lingering hopes of a firm international commitment to phase out the use of fossil fuels, the primary driver of the global climate emergency.

Earlier this week, activists offered cautious praise following the release of a draft document that mentioned fossil fuels for the first time in more than two decades of United Nations climate talks.

The updated draft, however, waters down even that inadequate language, adding what one environmentalist called “weasel words” that could leave the door open for the continued funding of fossil fuel projects.

Whereas an earlier version urged nations to “accelerate the phasing-out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels,” the new text calls on countries to accelerate “the phaseout of unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels” — qualifiers that drew immediate criticism from observers.

“Our leaders need to have the courage to talk openly about what we are transitioning from: oil, gas, and coal,” Catherine Abreu, founder and executive director of Destination Zero, said in response to the draft.

Saudi Arabia, Australia, Russia, and China were reportedly attempting to remove the fossil fuel language entirely. A final version of the text, which must be agreed upon by all 197 parties to COP26, is still being negotiated.

Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International, said in a statement that while there is “wording in here worth holding on to,” the “key line on phasing out coal and fossil fuel subsidies has been critically weakened.”

“But it’s still there and needs to be strengthened again before this summit closes,” said Morgan. “That’s going to be a big tussle and one we need to win. Meanwhile, we’ve gone from ‘urging’ countries to strengthen their 2030 emissions targets in line with the 1.5°C goal to merely ‘requesting’ they do so by 2022. It wasn’t good enough before, it’s even weaker now, and that needs to change.”

Jean Su of the Center for Biological Diversity argued that the latest draft “shows the oily imprints of fossil fuel influence.”

“The credibility of these talks is in question if landmark language around fossil fuels gives them a lifeline through carbon capture technologies and continued subsidies,” Su added. “We need more than weak gestures towards ‘low-emission’ energy. To have any hope of preserving a livable planet, we need to ignite a zero-emission revolution now.”

The updated text came at the tail end of a summit that’s featured soaring rhetoric from world leaders, including U.S. President Joe Biden, on the need for coordinated global action against the “existential threat” of the climate emergency. But such words have been accompanied by pledges that advocates and researchers say are nowhere sufficient to keep warming below 1.5°C by the end of the century, the Paris Agreement’s more ambitious target.

According to researchers behind the Climate Action Tracker, global greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 will be roughly twice as high as necessary to limit warming to 1.5°C even if nations’ pledges — including those issued in Glasgow — are met.

In a powerful speech to COP26 attendees on Thursday, Vanessa Nakate — a 24-year-old climate activist from Uganda — warned that “we are drowning in promises” and said she is “actually here to beg you to prove us wrong.”

“Commitments will not reduce CO2,” said Nakate. “Promises will not stop the suffering of the people. Pledges will not stop the planet from warming. Only immediate and drastic action will pull us back from the abyss.”

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres — who is facing pressure from young activists to declare a “systemwide climate emergency” — similarly cautioned Thursday that promises emerging from COP26 will “ring hollow when the fossil fuel industry still receives trillions in subsidies.”

“We need pledges to be implemented. We need commitments to turn concrete. We need actions to be verified,” Guterres said in his address to the summit. “We need to hold each other accountable — governments, non-state actors, and the civil society. Because only together can we keep 1.5 degrees within reach.”

This article is from  Common Dreams.

8 comments for “COP26: Negotiators Water Down Climate Deal

  1. robert e williamson jr
    November 13, 2021 at 17:53

    Nothing here to see folks! Move along lets not have an ugly scene. Gimme a break!

    This what is to be expected when the players here have no pressure on them to cooperate.

    Inflation pressure the poorest among us the most, they need the essentials just to survive.

    Another year of inflation hitting so hard it cannot be calculated quickly enough to get a real number and we all will see just how the number of indigent has grown right here in the Good Ole’ U.S. of A.

    Can we really expect any progress on this issue as long as the Super Wealthy Elitist’s, those who continue to call the shots for the Deep State, continue to rule the planet.

    The proof as I am seeing it form up is we will enjoy no such progress until the economic problems of the world’s most wealthy mandate it. The way I’m seeing this is the most powerful on the planet simply see or feel any motivation for change.

    Which actually when you think about it make perfect sense to them and their, “Me first attitudes.”

    99.9 % of the population on the planet want nuclear weapons done away with. The wealthy power brokers are having none of it after 77 or so years of spending trillions to keep them at the ready. Why? No motivation to do otherwise and take the chance that they can actually save the planet for us all. These people in all actuality make no sense.

    Maybe intense pressure from the world bank you say? Forget it the power players there are the same ones at COP26. It appears to me these fools want everyone else dead. Go figure !

    Thanjs CN

    More of the same ole’ Rich mans bull shit.

  2. November 13, 2021 at 16:33

    Our species has a death wish!

  3. Vera Gottlieb
    November 13, 2021 at 05:57

    The fossil fuel industry, the large polluters should have NEVER been welcomed at COP26 – never!!!

  4. GMCasey
    November 12, 2021 at 22:44

    Perhaps the oilers and the coal people and the gas people need to be sidelined. A small island in the middle of rising water—that seems fair. WHY were those people even at COP26? Isn’t that like inviting Killer Bees to a picnic?

  5. John Stanley
    November 12, 2021 at 19:02

    Preparations for the next COP which should take place next year .
    COP 27 should be focussed primarily on naming those in the fossil fuel and derivative industries such as plastics as committing crimes against humanity. As a consequence they should appear before human rights courts in designated countries and should face the
    confiscation of all their wealth which has been achieved through human suffering as a consequence of their industrial activities. In addition jail terms should be imposed on the most flagrant violators. Unless we move down this track they will go on practising their evil with impunity .

  6. Andrew Thomas
    November 12, 2021 at 16:52

    Thank you for the, as always, well written update. The photograph of Secretary-General Guterres, which to me captures what seems to be his overwhelmed despair, was unfortunately a perfect complement to the text.

  7. firstpersoninfinite
    November 12, 2021 at 14:14

    It now appears that the “War on Terror” has moved on to its final goal: the capitulation of reason to chicanery. The need to capture “hearts and minds” in the Middle East was always about capturing the rest of world’s “hearts and minds” for the sake of an authoritarian capitalism that will likely come to pass in the near future. Otherwise, why would the US and its “oil uber allies” refuse to acknowledge a “climate crisis” with meaningful action while still acknowledging the original “War on Terror” without question? Why else would we spend 8 trillion dollars on that original “war” and pennies on transitioning away from oil? Because the powers that be don’t plan to give the thrust of world opinion back to reason and then face charges of ecocide. In this actual game of Risk, the playing board had been put back in its box and the fall of nations is not recorded. The “winners” declared victory long ago, and their generals from both sides of the aisle live in multiple millionaire mansions.

    • November 13, 2021 at 16:38

      Their generals may live in “multiple millionaire mansions,” but only for a time; then we’ll go extinct!

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