The United Nations climate agency on Wednesday released a draft of an accord that diplomats from some 200 nations will use as a template to strike a deal as the two-week long global climate summit in Glasgow nears its end.
The draft released on Wednesday urges countries to strengthen their plans to tackle climate change by 2022, and outlines the steps they can take to further slash carbon dioxide emissions, one of the key goals of the summit known as COP26.
The document urges countries to strengthen their ambitions to keep the average global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), compared to preindustrial levels. That’s the threshold beyond which scientists say the likelihood significantly increases of deadly heat waves, droughts, wildfires and floods.
Still, David Waskow, director of the international climate initiative at the World Resources Institute, a Washington think tank, said the language regarding the 1.5-degree goal is muddy.
United Nations researchers released a report Tuesday found that under the current pledges by countries to reduce emissions, the Earth is on track to warm about 2.5 degrees Celsius (4.5 degrees Fahrenheit), a full degree beyond the goal outlined in the draft.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, whose nation is hosting the summit, was expected to appear in Glasgow on Thursday to urge ministers and negotiators to come together for a final push toward an agreement that could help slow the warming of the planet.
“Negotiating teams are doing the hard yards in these final days of COP26 to turn promises into action on climate change,” Mr. Johnson said before he arrived. “This is bigger than any one country and it is time for nations to put aside differences and come together for our planet and our people.”
He will be joined by the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, whose speech at the opening of the conference laid out the stakes of the gathering in stark detail.
“Even if the recent pledges were clear and credible — and there are serious questions about some of them — we are still careening towards climate catastrophe,” he said.
The primary goal of the conference is to build on the accord struck in Paris in 2015, which was the first time nearly every country on the planet committed to lowering planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions to help stave off the severest effects of climate change.
It urges nations to “revisit and strengthen the 2030 targets in their nationally-determined contributions, as necessary to align with the Paris Agreement temperature goal by the end of 2022.”
While it calls for countries to phase out coal and fossil fuels, it does not offer any firm timelines on those issues.
The lack of firm deadlines and enforcement mechanisms are just two of the huge hurdles that remain.
Tensions have flared over what sorts of financial aid richer countries should give poorer ones to deal with the rising damage from heat waves, floods, droughts and storms. And, while there’s broad agreement that most nations aren’t cutting their greenhouse gas emissions quickly enough to avoid dire levels of warming, there’s far less consensus about how to get deeper reductions.
By tradition, a final agreement requires every party to sign on. If any one country objects, talks can deadlock. And each country brings its own set of often competing interests. Small island states like the Maldives, facing an imminent threat from rising seas, want all countries to slash emissions as fast as possible. Oil producers like Saudi Arabia and Russia note eager to rapidly phase out fossil fuels. And big developing countries like India are holding out for more help to shift to cleaner energy.
Wealthy nations have promised to “pursue efforts” to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to preindustrial times. But meeting that goal means that all countries must commit to cutting emissions faster and deeper than they are already doing.
For every fraction of a degree of warming, scientists say, the world will experience more intense heat waves and drought, and more deadly floods and wildfires. Humans have already heated the planet by roughly 1.1 degrees Celsius, or 2 degrees Fahrenheit, since the 19th century.
Countries have less than 10 years to reduce emissions enough to keep the planet below 1.5 degrees of warming. So if leaders don’t commit to bold steps now, when so much global attention is focused on the Glasgow climate talks, many fear that the world will barrel toward dangerous levels of warming.
Read the article below to see how far the world has, and hasn’t, come.
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