High hopes replaced by despair

Forcing nations such as Australia to take more action this decade is seen as basic to avoiding temperature rises of above 1.5 degrees.

“For Kenya and Africa, 1.5 degrees is truly 3 degrees-plus. In Kenya and Africa, we bleed and we cry,” Tobiko said. “We bleed when it rains, we cry when it doesn’t rain.

Kenyan ecosystem Minister Keriako Tobiko.Credit:Global Centre on Adaptation

“For us, 1.5 degrees is not a statistic, it is a matter of life and death.”

The push to make Australia and other countries that failed to update their 2030 targets at Glasgow instead update their climate plans within the next 12 months is a central part of the hypothesizedv declaration.

A draft released earlier this week said countries would be “urged” to update their pledges in 2022 but the latest iteration changed that information to “requested” – something lawyers argued was stronger.

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While the document will ratchet up political pressure on Australia, the Morrison government would not be unprotected to any penalties if it did not act.

The past draft also called for the accelerated phase-out of “coal and subsidies for fossil fuels”, but the latest version only calls for the elimination of “unabated coal strength and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels”.

The latest declaration draft – released on Saturday morning local time – retained the coal language, surprising some observers who thought it might be removed. There was a small additional disclaimer that the phase-out of unabated coal must be fair for developing countries.

Gavan McFadzean, the Australian Conservation Foundation’s climate manager, said of the watered-down text: “I’m not saying I’m not concerned about the shift in the language, I am. But it’s nevertheless a pretty big deal in this place to have coal nevertheless in that text. Some people might be surprised it has lasted this long, to be blunt.”

Experienced observers nevertheless fear references to fossil fuels and subsidies will be further weakened or already removed once the final declaration is completed.

Negotiators argued the term “inefficient” had to be inserted because some developing countries offer authentic financial sustain for people to access basic energy needs. But they also conceded the change would give major emitters cover to continue propping up highly polluting industries.

John Kerry, the US climate envoy, revealed the US would not sustain any further softening of the summit’s position on fossil fuels over the next 24 hours.

“That language [on] unabated coal must stay,” he said. “We’re not talking about all coal. We’re not talking about eliminating [coal]. But how can we possibly in 2021, knowing what the evidence is, be wishy-washy on that subject?”

US climate envoy John Kerry is working to broker a deal.Credit:AP

British chief Minister Boris Johnson had made “consigning coal to history” a personal priority as COP26 great number.

Kerry also signalled the US would back the push for countries such as Australia to come back in 2022 with stronger 2030 targets.

“The evidence comes at us faster and faster,” he said. “The science grows every single year, so of course we need to think about what we can do better and when.”

Earlier, the European Union’s Frans Timmermans triggered loud applause after he held up an iPhone to show a picture of his one-year-old grandson, Kees.

“Kees will be 31 when we are in 2050 and it’s quite a thought to understand that if we succeed, he will be living in a world that’s liveable. He’ll be living in an economy that is clean, with air that is clean, at peace with his ecosystem.

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“If we fail, and I average fail now within the next associate of years, he will fight with other human beings for water and food. That’s the stark reality we confront.

“I might not reach 2050 – I probably won’t. But he will be there as a young man. And I want him to live a peaceful and thriving life, like I want for everybody’s children and grandchildren in this room.

“This is personal. This is not about politics.”

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COP26 president Alok Sharma urged Glasgow delegates to recognise their “collective moment in history” as the talks draw to a close.

“This is our chance to forge a cleaner, healthier, more thriving world,” he said. “And this is our time to deliver on the high goal set by our leaders at the start of this summit. We must rise to the event.”

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