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Glasgow Climate Talks Are Down to the Wire on Money, Ambition and Fossil Fuels

GLASGOW — The international climate talks went into overtime Friday evening, as negotiators wrestled behind closed doors over several sticking points in an agreement that could determine whether nations can prevent the planet from growing dangerously hot by midcentury.

A draft agreement released Friday morning called for a doubling of money to help developing countries cope with climate impacts, and said nations should strengthen their emissions-cutting targets by next year. The document urged countries to accelerate a coal phaseout and eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels.

Negotiators from about 200 countries worked into Saturday morning, arguing over several aspects of the document, including whether countries should be asked to return next year with stronger emissions plans, if wealthy countries should give financial help to developing countries suffering the worst impacts, and how to structure a global market for carbon.

They even disputed whether the final agreement should mention the words “fossil fuels,” which have never before appeared in a global climate agreement even though their combustion is the principal cause of climate change.

One of the most divisive questions involves whether industrialized countries that have prospered by burning coal, oil and gas should pay developing countries for the irreparable harms they have caused.

The state of the negotiations reflected the intensifying pressure on polluter countries to not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions far more quickly than they have been willing, but also to address the damage that those emissions have exacted on countries least responsible for the problem.

“There’s a huge disconnect between where we are, where we will be based on current projections and where we need to be in terms of what science is telling us,” said Saber Hossain Chowdhury, a negotiator from Bangladesh.

A new draft text was expected Saturday morning, according to summit organizers. To reach a final agreement, all parties must approve. By tradition, if one country objects to language in the agreement, the talks can deadlock.

The summit host, Britain, had said its goal was to ensure that the planet would not heat more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100, compared with preindustrial times. That is the threshold beyond which scientists say devastating heat waves, fires and floods become significantly more likely.

That goal is nowhere within reach.

The world has already warmed an average of 1.1 degrees Celsius since the Industrial Revolution, although some places have already heated more than that. One analysis found that even if all the pledges made in Glasgow are kept, temperatures will still skyrocket by 2.4 degrees Celsius by 2100.

The Kenyan environment minister, Keriako Tobiko, noted that an average global temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius would translate into 3 degrees in Africa, intensifying erratic patterns of rainfall and drought that are already punishing farmers.


Read More: Glasgow Climate Talks Are Down to the Wire on Money, Ambition and Fossil Fuels

2021-11-12 17:34:33

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