Key COP26 goal ‘on life support’ as new agreement ‘waters down’ pledge on fossil fuels

The COP26 climate summit in Glasgow is not expected to end on time tonight as frantic talks go into extra time – and a new draft agreement appears to compromise fossil fuel pledges

Boris Johnson and David Attenborough at the COP26 summit
Boris Johnson and David Attenborough at the COP26 summit

The head of the United Nations has warned COP26’s main goal is on “life support” as frantic talks in Glasgow head into extra time.

Negotiators from almost 200 countries are expected to debate late into tonight and even tomorrow – as they bid to keep the goal of limiting global warming below 1.5C “within reach”.

A new draft agreement this morning kept a bid to bring back world leaders in 2023 and “strengthen” national targets next year.

But it appears to have watered down a push to curb fossil fuels.

The first draft called for nations to “accelerate the phasing-out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels”. Yet the new version has inserted the word “inefficient” next to the word “subsidies”.

It now calls on countries to accelerate the shift to clean energy systems, “including by rapidly scaling up clean power generation and accelerating the phaseout of unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels”.

The inclusion of a reference to fossil fuels was a first for a UN decision document of this type, but was expected to get fierce pushback from some countries.

It comes after UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres warned the goal of keeping 1.5C within reach was “on life support”.

In an interview with AP, Mr Guterres said: “The worst thing would be to reach an agreement at all costs by a minimum common denominator that would not respond to the huge challenges we face.

“It is the moment to reach agreement by increasing ambition in all areas: mitigation, adaptation and finance, in a balanced way,” he said.

This breaking news story is being updated.

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