'Time is running out': Alok Sharma issues stark warning as COP26 end date looms

12 November 2021, 01:20 | Updated: 12 November 2021, 01:35

The COP president gave a speech at the summit.
The COP president gave a speech at the summit. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Alok Sharma has warned world leaders that "time is running out" to agree on a deal before the COP26 summit comes to an end.

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The president of the conference said that "a monumental challenge" was ahead as the event entered its official final day of talks, set to finish at 6pm on Friday.

However, it has been suggested that discussions will overrun into the weekend, in efforts to reach an agreement for over 200 countries.

It comes as the event has been hailed by several politicians as a success while protesters have slammed the event for "greenwashing".

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In just the first few days of COP26, over 100 countries signed a landmark agreement to halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030, as well as committing to phase out coal power in economies in coming decades.

The US and China also announced a surprise agreement to tackle climate crisis on Wednesday, working together to limit methane - a greenhouse gas up to 80 times more destructive, more potent, than CO2.

However, negotiators are under added pressure to resolve issues around finance for poor countries, calls for accelerating the phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies and coal, and the efforts of countries to cut emissions in the 2020s.

Read more: Draft COP26 pact urges more action after China 'thwarts' talks

At a press conference on Thursday, Mr Sharma said: "Whilst we have made progress, we are not there yet on the most critical issues. There is still a lot more work to be done – time is running out.

"As I speak my ministerial facilitators and negotiators are rolling up their sleeves and working hard to find solutions to some of the most intractable issues

He went on to say: "Negotiations on finance really need to accelerate and they need to accelerate now.

"Having engaged extensively with parties of the past year and at COP, I know that everyone understands what is at stake for the future of our planet here in Glasgow."

He continued: "We still have a monumental challenge ahead of us, but collectively we have no choice but to rise to that challenge and strain every sinew to achieve a timely outcome that we can all be proud of.

"Because ultimately, this outcome, whatever it is, will belong to all of us."

It comes after a first draft of agreements was shared on Wednesday, raising concerns from some of the most vulnerable nations.

It is thought the commitment to phase out fossil fuels, the first time this has appeared in such a text, is unlikely to make it into the final document.