COP26: Draft agreement urges revised emissions targets by end of next year

Published by Scott Challinor on November 11th 2021, 12:12am

A draft agreement published at the COP26 climate summit has said that nations must show greater ambition to reduce emissions by the end of 2022 in their carbon-cutting plans.

It calls for long-term strategies toward net zero to be submitted by the same deadline and warns that countries vulnerable to the symptoms of climate change - such as droughts, floods and wildfires - need greater levels of support, including finance from richer countries to scale-up mitigating action.

The draft agreement put forward by the UK COP26 presidency will need to be negotiated between other nations that have attended the summit before being implemented.

Among its proposals is for an annual ministerial round table discussion to take place, where world leaders will convene to discuss their carbon cutting plans and progress in the lead-up to 2030.

While many have welcomed the draft document’s urgency toward keeping global temperature increases below 1.5 Celsius, some argue that the proposals are still not radical enough. For example, the document encourages world leaders to hasten efforts to phase out coal usage and fossil fuel subsidies, but does not set any clear dates or targets for this goal.

More staggeringly still, research published at the summit earlier in the week suggested that global temperatures could rise by 2.4 Celsius based on the short-term plans already put forward.

Roughly 140 countries have pledged themselves toward the net zero by 2050 goal, but their 2030 targets remain insufficient to remain on course for 1.5 Celsius according to experts.

To keep 1.5 Celsius within reach and avoid further devastating climate change effects, scientists have said that global emissions will need to be reduced by as much as 45 per cent by 2030, and then net zero should be achieved by 2050 as planned.

The document has suggested that world leaders meet with UN secretary general Antonio Guterres as early as 2023 to review progress toward 2030 targets.

But the World Resources Institute’s David Waskow has warned that there remains some opposition from major economies toward a rapid move away from fossil fuels and implementing more robust climate targets.

Waskow said: “On the question of the revisiting and strengthening of targets, there are certainly parties who have been pushing back, the Saudis and Russians have been quite clear on that, others have been less blunt.

“The other countries who are pushing back are many of the vulnerable countries, who don't comprise that large percentage of global emissions often or have very limited resources to develop nationally-determined contributions and then to implement them.”

Meanwhile, UK prime minister Boris Johnson has called upon all nations to rally together and “pull out all the stops” to cut carbon emissions and ensure 1.5 Celsius remains achievable.

He said: “This is bigger than any one country and it is time for nations to put aside differences and come together for our planet and our people.”

Elsewhere, the Environment Bill was passed in the UK Parliament earlier this week, after being first brought to the Commons in January 2020.

The Bill sparked a lengthy dispute over the levels of raw sewage allowed to be discharged into rivers, with water companies now required to make a "progressive reduction" in the amounts of sewage dumped in British waterways.

However, with the absence of clear timetables or targets for reduction, critics again argue that the new law does not go far enough in cracking down on the problem.

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

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Authored By

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
November 11th 2021, 12:12am

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