As governments scramble to strike a deal after two weeks of discussions, a draft accord at the COP26 climate conference has scaled down obligations to phase out coal and other fossil fuels.
While the language on fossil fuels has been reduced, the commitment’s inclusion in a final agreement would be a watershed event.
By the end of the summit, which is in its last hours, an agreement must be reached.
The UN summit is viewed as critical for reducing global warming’s impacts.
The draft deal, which was released early on Friday after all-night meetings, also demands that states submit their intentions to decrease greenhouse gas emissions within far shorter timeframes.
It also boosts help for developing nations tackling climate change.
Negotiations on a final agreement might last until late Friday, if not longer.
“This is the absolute minimum of text. The new dawn will be determined in the next several hours “Grenada’s climate resilience minister, Simon Stiell, believes the little island is extremely sensitive to climate change.
“We’re clinging onto 1.5C by our fingernails if the text survives the pounding,” he adds, referring to the goal of keeping global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius to prevent the worst consequences of climate change.
Before the conference finishes, negotiators from nations that rely on fossil fuels may try to change the language.
Climate organizations cautiously welcomed the draft’s signals of progress, but cautioned there was still a long way to go.
Greenpeace International’s Jennifer Morgan said, “The essential line on phasing out coal and fossil fuel subsidies has been gravely reduced, but it’s still there and has to be strengthened again before this summit finishes.”
“However, there is language in here worth retaining, and the UK presidency must fight tooth and nail to protect the deal’s most ambitious components,” she argues.
The original deal included positive parts, but it was “nowhere near bold enough,” according to Prof Jim Watson of University College London.
The proposal comes as UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned that COP26 would most likely fail to meet its objectives, and that the essential goal of reducing global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is “on life support.”
A crucial aspect of the Paris deal, which most nations signed up to, is limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels. It calls for a 45 percent reduction in world emissions by 2030 and a total reduction of zero by 2050.
According to experts, one illustration of the consequence of global temperature rises exceeding 2°C is the demise of practically all coral reefs.
Parties were urged to “accelerate the phase-out of coal and fossil fuel subsidies” in an earlier version of the agreement.
This has been updated to “quickening the phaseout of unabated coal power and wasteful fossil fuel subsidies.”
Unabated coal is coal that is produced without using technology to collect carbon emissions.
However, the draft calls for nations to submit their plans to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change before next year’s climate conference, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Previously, nations were required to report these NDCs every five years under previous accords.