FleishmanHillard COP26 Daily Digest, Day 13: Friday 12th November 2021
COP26 enters its final scheduled day of negotiations – albeit with caveats that discussions about the COP26 text are likely to continue past today’s deadline. Today’s edition features a detailed look at progress and gaps as of Friday morning.
Significant work remains on key issues, including the phase-out of fossil fuel production and subsidies for fossil fuels, inadequate financial support for poor countries most vulnerable to climate change, and mandates for countries to update their national pledges in 2022 instead of 2025 (which is currently only “requested”, a soft term in UN-speak).
Meanwhile, Thursday’s focus on cities saw new commitments to reduce emissions from the built environment launched by a coalition of mayors and construction industry leaders.
In addition, it was confirmed that COP27 will be hosted by Egypt and COP28 will be hosted by the United Arab Emirates.
DROWNING IN PROMISES, BUT PROGRESS NEEDED ON COP26 TEXT DETAILS| COP26 Daily Digest, Day 13
As the summit enters its final scheduled day, he hoped to push parties to take more aggressive, urgent action and to resolve contentious issues that will block progress this decade.
His words echo those of other activists expressing frustration about a lack of action and accountability from the world’s richest countries. Ugandan youth activist Vanessa Nakate said COP26 was “drowning in promises” and that only immediate and drastic action would help.
“It’s hard to believe business and finance leaders when they haven’t delivered before,” she said. “We simply don’t believe it. But I am here right now to say: prove us wrong.”
Negotiations on the final text of the conference are expected to continue beyond the scheduled close of the summit and into the weekend.
Sticking points in the draft COP26 text as of Friday morning remain significant, including criticism over weakened language regarding the phasing out fossil fuels, no commitment to make up the 2020 shortfall in climate finance for poor countries to help them cut greenhouse gas emissions or improve it going forward, and only broad pledges to explore technical measures regarding climate adaptation in vulnerable countries.
In particular, the lack of climate finance for poor countries is drawing sharp criticism.
Said Tracy Carty, head of Oxfam’s COP26 delegation, “‘Acknowledging’ loss and damage will not bring back the submerged homes, poisoned fields and lost loved ones. Rich countries must stop blocking progress and commit to doing something about it.”
In addition, the debate is intense over how frequently countries will need to revisit their emissions reduction targets by updating their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).
Experts and advocates say that sticking with the current plan for NDC updates in 2025 is not acceptable if we are to keep a heating target of 1.5C in sight, and annual updates are required.
However, the current COP26 text has downgraded language, as the UN “requests” countries increase their pledges rather than “urges” them to do so.
In the words of Greenpeace International executive director Jennifer Morgan, “It could be better, it should be better, and we have one day left to make it a lot, lot better.”
FOSSIL FUELS CONTINUE TO FUEL DEBATE| COP26 Daily Digest, Day 13
Just a few days after landmark promises to phase out the use of coal and end subsidies for fossil fuels, cracks are appearing in the evolving text of the agreement around the renewable energy transition.
Major fossil fuel exporters, including Saudi Arabia and Australia, were reported to be pushing to redraft or remove a section of that calls for an accelerated “phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels.” The fossil fuel industry benefits from subsidies of $11 million every minute, according to an analysis by the International Monetary Fund.
Frans Timmermans, the EU’s climate policy chief, had warned that removing the phrase would be “an extremely, extremely bad signal” to the world.
The second draft text issued Friday morning included softened language referring to “the phaseout of unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels”. Climate experts recognised the importance of language on fossil fuels remaining in the text, but worry that it still gives countries too much latitude to maintain fossil fuel production and continue subsidies.
In a setback for those seeking a swift end to the predominance of fossil fuels, Poland said it would continue burning coal for more than another quarter-century, despite being one of the headline signatories of a British-organised pledge to phase out coal last week.
NEW EFFORTS TO DECARBONISE THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT| COP26 Daily Digest, Day 13
A new international coalition of cities and the construction sector will aim to reduce emissions from the global built environment by half within the next eight years.
The Clean Construction Action Coalition (CCAC) was announced on Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day by C40 Cities, a group of almost 100 mayors working together to tackle the climate crisis.
Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor, told delegates that global cities were active in fighting the climate crisis while many governments were dragging their heels. Cities cause an estimated 75% of carbon emissions.
The Clean Construction Action Coalition will target a fragmented sector that accounts for almost a quarter (23%) of global greenhouse gas emissions and consumes more than half of all extracted global resources.
A recent report from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development found that fewer than 1% of building projects currently account for lifecycle carbon impacts, with embodied carbon being a common omission.
Mark Watts, Executive Director C40 Cities, said, “We need to radically change the way we plan, design, build and maintain the buildings and infrastructure of our cities to dramatically cut emissions and therefore its impact on the climate crisis. The role of mayors and municipal governments is to create and shape markets, setting a clear direction for mission-driven firms to prosper from sustainable construction quickly becoming the norm.”
COP27 AND COP28 HOSTS CONFIRMED: EGYPT AND UNITED ARAB EMIRATES| COP26 Daily Digest, Day 13
In the midst of final negotiations at COP26, parties confirmed the hosts for the next two summits, to be held in 2022 and 2023.
Egypt announced that it will host COP27, with the country’s Environment Ministry stating that the summit will be held in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.
Meanwhile, the UAE announced that it will host COP28 the following year, with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the Prime Minister of the UAE, declaring in a tweet that “we will put all our capabilities to make the conference a success. The UAE will remain committed to global climate action to protect the planet”.
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