GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — Government negotiators from nearly 200 countries have adopted a new deal on climate action after a last-minute intervention by India to water down the language on cutting emissions from coal.
Several countries including small island states said they were deeply disappointed by the move to “phase down,” rather than “phase out” coal power, the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions.
Others described the revision in odious terms and as against the rules but accepted it to close the U.N. Climate talks held in Glasgow, Scotland for two weeks.
Nation after nation complained about India’s final provisions being too slow or far reaching before India was able to make the changes. However, compromise was better than none and allowed for progress.
According to the negotiations, the deal is designed to keep alive the goal of keeping global warming below 1.5° Celsius (2.7° Fahrenheit), since preindustrial times. Already, the world has warmed by 1.1 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit).
This is a BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.
Saturday saw almost 200 nations poised to come together and reach an agreement on how the world should be run. to curb climate change After 15 days of heated climate negotiations, a crucial global warming goal must be maintained.
Nearly three hours later, nations said that the agreement was not sufficient. Only India and Iran seemed to be inclined to disagree. As a sign of some success, negotiators began the tradition of taking photos.
It calls for the end to some fossil fuel subsidies and coal power. The deal also provides enough financial incentives for poorer countries to be able to accept the consequences of climate change, regardless of their role in its creation.
Negotiators stated that the agreement preserves, though only slightly, the goal to limit warming to 1.5° Celsius (2.7° Fahrenheit), since preindustrial times. Already the earth has warmed to 1.1° Celsius (2° Fahrenheit).
Three criteria had been set by the United Nations for success in the negotiations at Glasgow. They were not met. The U.N.’s criteria included pledges to cut carbon dioxide emissions in half by 2030, $100 billion in financial aid from rich nations to poor, and ensuring that half of that money went to helping the developing world adapt to the worst effects of climate change.
According to the draft, big polluting countries must return and make stronger pledges of emission reductions before 2022.
The U.N. summit saw a widening of the rich-poor gap, and developing countries complained about being ignored. The negotiators cheered when the Guinea representative, representing 77 of the poorer countries and China, stated that his group was able to accept the overall results.
Also, the Chinese delegation said that it would be fine with positions that were to emerge from a Glasgow conference. But Indian Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav potentially threw a wrench when he argued against a provision on phasing out coal, saying that developing countries were “entitled to the responsible use of fossil fuels.”
Yadav blamed “unsustainable lifestyles and wasteful consumption patterns” in rich countries for causing global warming. The possibility that India might try to stop any potential deals was not clear. “Consensus remains elusive,” the minister said.
Iran supported India in not being too tough about fossil fuels, it said.
A frustrated European Union Vice President Frans Timmermans, the 27-nation EU’s climate envoy, begged negotiators to be united for future generations.
“For heaven’s sake, don’t kill this moment,” Timmermans pleaded. “Please embrace this text so that we bring hope to the hearts of our children and grandchildren.”
U.S. climate envoy John Kerry expressed support for the most recent provisions, calling the draft a “powerful statement.” Kerry and several other negotiators noted that good compromises leave everyone slightly unsatisfied.
“Not everyone in public life … gets to make choices about life and death. It is not possible for everyone to make the right choices that have a real impact on the whole planet. We here are privileged today to do exactly that,” he said.
Gabon’s delegation indicated it couldn’t leave Glasgow without “scaled up” and predictable assurances for more money to help poorer nations adapt to the worst effects of global warming. Kerry tried to assure Gabon’s representatives that the United States would redouble its efforts on adaptation finance.
Small islands nations, which are at risk from the devastating effects of climate changes, had been pushing for greater action in Glasfow. They were pleased with the spirit of compromise and the outcome of talks.
“Maldives accepts the incremental progress made in Glasgow,” Aminath Shauna, the island nation’s minister for environment, climate change and technology said. “I’d like to note that this progress is not in line with the urgency and scale with the problem at hand.’’
Shauna pointed out that current provisions do not provide enough protection to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degree Fahrenheit). This is the temperature at which nations had agreed six years ago.
“The difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees is a death sentence for us,” Shauna said, noting that to stay within that range the world must cut carbon dioxide emissions essentially in half in 98 months.
On Saturday, negotiators in Glasgow came up with new ideas to close a deal. They hoped that it would help to accelerate global warming efforts.
Last-minute meetings were focused on the possibility of a loss-and damage fund for countries that are affected by climate change, and forest credits within a carbon trading market.
“I hope we can have some resolutions before formally starting this plenary,” conference president Alok Sharma, an official from host nation Britain, told negotiators. “Collectively this is a package that really moves things forward for everyone.”
Up until Saturday afternoon, there were still divisions over the question of financial assistance for poor countries to deal with the devastating effects of climate change. The United States and the European Union, two of the world’s biggest historic emitters of greenhouse gases, continued to have deep reservations about the so-called “loss and damage” provisions.
Mohammed Quamrul Chowdhury from Bangladesh was a leading negotiator in the field of less-developed nations. He pointed out how vague language used in the Saturday morning draft did not commit richer countries to providing new funding for those countries suffering from climate change.
One other issue that had been frustrating negotiators since 2006 was the creation of carbon trading markets. Trade credits can be traded to reduce carbon as with other commodities. This will unleash the power and potential of the market, with the poorer nations receiving money often from the private sector for carbon-reduction measures.
Rich countries wanted to make sure that poor nations that sell their carbon-reduction credits don’t claim those actions in their national tallies of emission cuts, a process called double counting.
Saturday’s draft provided “strong” provisions to prevent double counting of offsets, but new issues involving forests reemerged later in the day, according to Environmental Defense Fund Vice President Kelly Kizzier, a former European Union negotiator and expert on carbon market negotiations.
Coal was more widely considered than the issues of conflict between poor and rich nations.
A proposal for the overarching decision retains contentious language calling on countries to accelerate “efforts towards the phase-out of unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.”
But in a new addition, the text says nations will recognize “the need for support towards a just transition” — a reference to calls from those working in the fossil fuel industry for financial support as they wind down jobs and businesses.
Some advocates claimed early Saturday proposals were too weak.
“Here in Glasgow, the world’s poorest countries are in danger of being lost from view, but the next few hours can and must change the course we are on,” Oxfam senior policy adviser Tracy Carty said. “What’s on the table is still not good enough.”
But the possibility of having fossil fuels explicitly mentioned for the first time in a decision coming out of the U.N.’s annual Conference of the Parties meeting, or COP, was well-received by some environmentalists.
In another proposal, countries are “encouraged” to submit new targets for emissions reduction for 2035 by 2025, and for 2040 by 2030, establishing a five-year cycle. Prior to this, the development countries had been expected to update their targets every 10 years. The developed countries will also be asked for a brief-term update in the next year.
The proposed agreement states that to achieve the 2015 Paris accord’s ambitious goal of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit), countries will need to make “rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, including reducing global carbon dioxide emissions by 45% by 2030 relative to the 2010 level and to net zero around mid-century, as well as deep reductions in other greenhouse gases.”
Although scientists say that the world has not yet reached this goal, they believe several promises made during the two week talks have helped them get closer.
The latest draft agreement expresses “alarm and utmost concern that human activities have caused around 1.1C (2F) of global warming to date and that impacts are already being felt in every region.”
Next year’s talks are scheduled to take place in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Dubai will host the 2023 meeting.
Aniruddha Ghosal (Kar Ritter) and Ellen Knickmeyer were also part of this report.