After two weeks of negotiations, the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow concluded with a pact that its UN backers insist keeps alive the goal of limiting temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
More than 190 countries pledged to reduce coal use and agreed to strengthen emissions-cutting targets for 2030 by the end of next year as part of the bid to limit dangerous warming.
However, the watered-down wording of the final Cop paper attracted criticism for not going far enough on reducing reliance on the world's dirtiest fuel, with China and India among the nations to have blocked a tougher stance on emissions.
What are the main pledges included in the Glasgow pact?
The agreement reached in Glasgow expresses “alarm and utmost concern” at the fact human activities have caused around 1.1C of warming, and that the Earth’s remaining “carbon budget” consistent with 1.5C is being “rapidly depleted”.
It stresses the “urgency of enhancing ambition and action” in the 2020s to have any hope of meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement and calls on parties to “phase down” unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.
The text also invites parties “to consider” further action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, at a greater rate by 2030, and urges developed countries to fully deliver on the $100bn climate financing goal urgently.
Alongside the main pact, countries and businesses have committed to a range of initiatives from cutting methane emissions to curbing oil and gas exploration, protecting forests and shifting from coal to clean power.
Does it go far enough to limit warming to 1.5C?
Whether the pact goes far enough to meet the crucial target of limiting warming to no more than 1.5C compared with pre-industrial levels is far from certain.
Glasgow had been billed as a key moment in the process of keeping 1.5C within reach - coming after the Paris Agreement, which committed the world to curbing global warming to “well below” 2C.
At the start of the conference, the world was well off track to meet the goal and was facing warming of at least 2.4C.
Campaigners and climate experts have said that the Glasgow Pact and the decisions surrounding it only just keep the 1.5C goal alive – and that could unravel if countries don’t stick to their commitments, as well as coming forward with more ambitious plans in the months and years ahead.
Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said that target was “definitely alive” after the conference.
She told the BBC: “We are very far from that goal but we did manage to get together this big package of different decisions that will allow us and gives us very, very specific direction on what we need to work on in order to get there.”
But critics say it has merely kicked the can down the road, with countries now expected to come back by the end of next year with new 2030 targets and long term plans for cutting emissions to net zero.
Does the agreement signal the end of coal?
Late interventions from China and India saw a commitment to “phase out” the use of coal reduced to a promise to “phase down” the fuel.
But the wording of the document, while softened, is still being hailed as a breakthrough, since it is said to be the first time that a UN climate text includes specific coal commitments.
Again, it will be the pledges made in 2022 and beyond – referred to as nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – which spell out exactly how quickly coal use will end.
What was not delivered?
Developing countries were pushing for a clear plan for a loss and damage funding facility. This did not happen and focus will shift to Egypt – which is hosting the next Cop summit – next year to deliver this.
What are the experts’ verdicts on Cop26?
Alok Sharma, the Cop26 president, has acknowledged that the agreement is weaker than many had hoped for, but insisted the pact was not a failure, describing it instead as a “historic achievement”.
However reaction from climate groups was more nuanced. Greenpeace said the finalised text was “meek, it’s weak and the 1.5C goal is only just alive”.
The group’s executive director, Jennifer Morgan, said: “A signal has been sent that the era of coal is ending. And that matters. While the deal recognises the need for deep emissions cuts this decade, those commitments have been punted to next year.”
Ines Camilloni, an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) author, said “Although the 1.5C target is still alive, the longer they delay, the more difficult it is to reach it. We are facing promises and commitments, but they have to be acted upon now. There is no time to spare.”
Richard Black, a research fellow at Imperial College, said: “This summit has definitely moved the dial on several aspects of climate change – governments have taken steps to improve the lot of the most vulnerable nations, the missing pages of the Paris Agreement rulebook have been filled in, and governments that are marking time on emissions reduction are requested to come back next year with a more serious offer.
“Above all, for the first time all governments formally agreed that phasing out coal is essential to combatting climate change and that fossil fuel subsidies should go as well.
“Some will have been looking to Cop26 to solve climate change, but no summit could ever do that. It has done enough, however, to keep the 1.5°C target in play – but individual governments have a lot of work to do quickly to turn pledges into action.”
Shadow business and energy secretary Ed Miliband warned that “keeping 1.5 degrees alive is frankly in intensive care”, with a “chasm” between what was agreed in Scotland and what still needs to be done to slash emissions.
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