COP26 climate talks run overtime in final push to strike a global deal

Negotiations on a deal to continue into Saturday afternoon as delegates from nearly 200 nations are still trying to find common ground on the phasing out of coal and financial aid for poor countries.

With widespread agreement that the most vulnerable nations will face the severest consequences of climate change, wealthy nations are expected to share the burden and provide funding. (Reuters)

COP26 climate talks have been closing in on a global deal aimed at limiting global warming, with UK organisers hoping for a final agreement to the marathon negotiations.

The conference was pushed past its scheduled end on Friday, with the summit organisers confirming that a new draft text would not be published for scrutiny until early Saturday in Glasgow.

“I envisage formal plenary meetings in the afternoon to adopt decisions and close the session on Saturday,” said COP26 President Alok Sharma.

Delegates from nearly 200 nations are tasked with keeping alive the 2015 Paris goal of limiting temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as warming-driven disasters hit home around the world.

Developing economies led by India have balked at demands to do more to curb emissions without financial support to transition away from fossil fuels and to adapt to the accelerating impacts of climate change.

This deadlock underlies the delay in achieving a concluding deal out of the climate change conference.

Falling behind

The summit began with a bang as world leaders came armed with a string of headline announcements, from a commitment to slash methane emissions to a plan to save rainforests.

Negotiations received a further boost on Wednesday when the United States and China, the two largest emitters, unveiled a joint climate action plan, although it was light on detail.

But current national emissions cutting plans, all told, would lead to 2.7C of heating, according to the UN, far in excess of the Paris target. The latest draft COP26 agreement released on Friday called for countries to accelerate “the phase-out of unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels”.

Observers said the inclusion of the fuels driving the climate crisis in this version of the text was an important step. The text requests countries to come back next year with updated climate pledges.

UN Chief: COP26 climate promises ‘ring hollow’

Climate finance

Developed nations favour a greater push on emissions reductions, something countries yet to fully electrify their grids, and largely blameless for emissions, feel is unfair.

Countries already battered by climate disasters such as record-breaking drought and flooding are demanding they be compensated separately for “loss and damage”.

Observers said that rich nations were blocking progress with an unwillingness to unlock new funding. A fault-line remains over the failure of wealthy nations to meet their decade-old promise to provide $100 billion annually to help vulnerable nations prepare for the worst.

“If we want to get out of Glasgow with a decent outcome, we need to see real movement, particularly from the US and EU on a loss and damage facility and generally on climate finance,” said Mohamed Adow, head of the Power Shift Africa think tank.

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