COP26 deadline extended but whats really going on? 4 issues causing conflict

COP26: Barack Obama addresses lack of climate change action

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The United Nations Climate Change summit in Glasgow (COP26) has stalled after world leaders failed to publish a joint agreement by the proposed November 12 deadline. An extension has now been introduced in a last-minute attempt to secure an agreement to tackle climate change before the conference ends, but four key issues stand in their way.

Representatives from 200 nations have been involved in negotiations at the COP26 conference.

The aim of the conference was to emerge with a climate deal designed to keep the Earth’s temperature from exceeding a rise of 1.5C this century.

The initial deadline for publishing this deal was 6pm on November 12, but delegates from around the world have run into conflict.

A new draft deal was published early on November 13, which calls for countries to increase “efforts towards the phase-out of unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.”

However, a concrete deal has yet to emerge, the final decisions of COP26 are expected to be announced later today.

The UK as hosts of the talks are desperately trying to forge a final deal the almost 200 nations involved will agree on, but certain countries are against four essential steps necessary to tackle climate change.

Fossil fuels

A key issue is the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels.

The first agreement draft called on countries to stop their fossil fuel dependency, to “accelerate the phase-out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels.”

This point faced tough opposition from countries such as Saudi Arabia and Russia, whose economies are heavily reliant on fossil fuels.

As a result, tough action on the phasing out of fossil fuels was watered down in a second draft published on November 12, which called on countries to phase out “the phase-out of unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels”.

Saudi Arabia seems to be trying to remove any references to fossil fuels in the text of the final agreement, as they argue the previous climate deal, the 2015 Paris Agreement, did not reference fossil fuels.

Financial aid to help poor countries adapt to climate change

Low-lying poor countries are most at risk from the impacts of climate change, but they say enough isn’t being done to support them financially.

At the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009, rich countries pledged to channel £75 billion a year to poorer nations by 2020.

This financial aid was designed to help them adapt to climate change and mitigate further temperature rises, but such funds were never received leading to mistrust by poorer nations at the COP26 talks.

Climate action plans

Under the Paris Agreement countries agreed to their own climate action plans, known as National Climate Action (NDCs).

These plans run until 2030, but China and Saudi Arabia have so far resisted plans to put pressure on countries to accelerate their NDCs.

Transparency on releasing emission data

Another factor leading to a delay in publishing the final deal has been Saudi Arabia and China’s resistance to new policies around the sharing of emission data.

This policy would require countries to be more transparent with their emissions data, which would reveal the scale of emissions and the measures being taken to curb them.

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