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

10 November 2021, 09:17

COP26 President Alok Sharma pictured on day one of the summit
COP26 President Alok Sharma pictured on day one of the summit. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

A draft "cover decision" setting out the potential outcome of COP26 urges countries to do more to ensure the targets agreed to in the Paris Agreement are met.

The document, published by the UK presidency of the talks on Wednesday morning, says meaningful action is needed in "this critical decade" and urges countries to "revisit and strengthen" their targets for cutting emissions in their national action plans by the end of 2022.

It is to ensure the world is on track to limit global warming to 1.5C – which, so far, it is not even close to.

Read more: Climate change: Why is 1.5C the magic number for controlling global warming?

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The seven-page document urges countries to set out plans and policies to hit net-zero emissions by, or around, the middle of the century, by the end of next year.

It calls also for countries to accelerate the phasing-out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels, and for developed countries to at least double their collective provision of climate finance to help developing countries adapt to climate change, as part of scaling money for poorer nations to tackle the crisis.

The decision will now need to be negotiated and agreed by countries attending the talks - with the reaction of countries like China and Saudi Arabia pivotal to its success.

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Both Saudi Arabia and China have long been slight spanners in the works in the global effort to combat global warming.

Yesterday it was reported they were thwarting progress towards a deal at COP26 by refusing to be fully transparent about their greenhouse gas emissions, with both countries opposing planned reporting requirements.

The delay hampered progress on other parts of the deal, and was believed to be due to concerns about revealing data about economic growth in China and the performance of oil giant Saudi Aramco in Saudi Arabia.

Whilst Saudi Arabia has committed to net zero emissions, its target is 2060, 10 years after that of other countries.

It also pledged to achieve its targets through a "carbon circular economy" approach, focussing on carbon capture and storage technologies which are notoriously unreliable.

It also did not address the country's continued investment in oil and exporting fossil fuels to Asia and other regions.

Read more: COP26: China pressures Scottish delegates not to attend Taiwan event

China's Xi Jinping snubbed COP26 entirely, refusing to attend even virtually.

China currently mines and burns more coal than the rest of the world combined - and has recently announced it will expand coal production by 220m metric tons a year.

As a result, getting China - and Saudi Arabia - on board with the cover decision will be crucial to its success.

Other countries to watch include Russia and Brazil.

Both countries are two of the world's biggest polluters - and neither leader, Vladimir Putin nor Jair Bolsonaro, attended COP26.