U.K. Wants Nations to Improve COP Plans, But Offers a Way Out
(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. is set to propose that countries tighten their climate plans ahead of schedule, but after fraught talks in Glasgow, it would still allow the worst polluters to opt out.
The U.K. presidency, which had set high ambitions to ramp up global efforts to curb rising temperatures, is starting to draft the final text that will emerge from COP26 climate talks in Scotland.
So far, the proposals look set to disappoint nations most vulnerable to climate change, which are pushing for more radical steps. Those countries have been calling for governments to keep improving their emissions-reductions plans as often as every year until the the world is on track to stem temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius. They want urgent action that will have an impact in the crucial next decade.
According to a person familiar with the situation, the draft will use an existing article in the Paris Agreement to remind signatories that they resubmit their plans at any time. It may also propose a date for countries to come back with new outlines, for example in time for a scheduled stocktaking exercise in 2023.
Some countries -- including India, one of the biggest emitters -- still haven’t submitted the plans that were due ahead of this round of COP talks. Negotiators are separately discussing mechanisms to review and oversee those blueprints, known as nationally determined contributions.
Negotiators are also haggling over what the draft will say about targets for temperature increases. The Paris deal, signed after much diplomatic gymnastics in 2015, leaves room for ambiguity as it calls for temperature increases to be kept “well below 2 degrees” and preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The U.K.’s mantra going into COP has been to “keep 1.5 alive.” But there’s pushback on hardening the language to highlight 1.5 degrees, several people familiar with the situation said. Two officials said they expect the language to be in line with the conclusions of Group of 20 leaders in Rome last month, which barely went beyond the Paris accord.
As things stand, the planet is on course to warm 2.7 degrees, according to estimates from the United Nations. And scientists say curbing warming to 1.5 degrees rather than 2 degrees makes a massive difference to the fallout.
COP President Alok Sharma declined to comment on the content of the draft text at a news conference, saying only that it would be released on Tuesday night, and that negotiators would then have to consult their capitals and return with feedback.
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