COP26: World Leaders And Activists Express Disappointment With Climate Deal

Story Highlights
  • World leaders and activists express displeasure over climate deal.
  • Key officials in United States and Europe vowed to work harder.
  • China and India’s last-minute edit angered other countries.

Glasgow: Many world leaders and activists were disappointed this weekend with the climate deal that emerged from two weeks of tense negotiations in Glasgow, Scotland, warning that countries must strengthen their commitments if they want to avoid disastrous consequences and help at-risk countries cope with the damage already caused by climate change.

After delegates from China and India offered a last-minute modification weakening a provision in the text to phase out fossil fuels, key leaders in the United States and Europe committed to work harder to help poorer countries transition to greener energy sources. The original language called for a “phase out” of unabated coal and wasteful fossil fuel subsidies, while the final accord simply mentions a “phase-down.”

On Nov. 13, delegates from China and India sought a last-minute change to a controversial item concerning coal transition, angering other countries.

In a phone interview on Sunday, a senior Biden administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss private talks, said that the modification in the language on fossil fuels surprised most delegates and enraged the US delegation. The COP26 conference’s president, Alok Sharma, said on Sunday that China and India will have to explain to poor countries why they sought to weaken language on measures to phase out coal.

“Phasing down is on the way to phasing out,” the senior official said. “You don’t turn it off the next day.” He credited “in no little part” the efforts of [US envoy John F.] Kerry with Xie Zhenhua, the Chinese climate envoy, for the Chinese willingness to accept any statement on coal’s future.

On November 14, a day after the United Nations climate summit ended, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Alok Sharma addressed. Countries are under pressure to reevaluate their ambitions for reducing emissions by the end of next year as part of the Glasgow accord, and to offer more help to countries who are facing the brunt of climate change. However, these voluntary actions do not put the world on pace to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as set forth in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

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