COP 26


What is COP26 and why is it so important?


2020’s COP will look to build on the work done at COP21 where the Paris Agreement was signed.   –   Copyright  Chris J Ratcliffe/AP Photo

By Marthe de Ferrer  & Rosie Frost  •  Updated: 30/10/2021

Everyone is talking about COP26 – but what actually is it, and why does it matter so much?

The UN Climate Change Conference (the official name for climate Conferences of the Parties) has happened every year since 1995. The two-week summits are an important space for stakeholders to discuss the climate crisis on a global level.

These annual conferences bring together those that have signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an international environmental treaty addressing climate change.

Every UN member state is a signatory for the UNFCCC, as well Palestine, the Cook Islands and Niue, while the Holy See is an observer to the treaty.

Effectively every nation, country, or state in the world is involved, giving a total of 197 signatory parties.

Each year representatives from every party come together to discuss action on climate change in what is known as a COP. The 26th COP was meant to take place in Glasgow, UK last November, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the disruption, COP26 has been keenly anticipated – with many leaders, activists and scientists having high expectations for this year’s conference.

We’ll be at the summit bringing you all the latest news, interviews and coverage of expected protests.

We’ll also be sending out a daily newsletter – you can sign up here.

When is COP26?

The UN Climate Change Conference 2021 (or COP26) was meant to take place from the 9th to the 19th of November 2020 but is now scheduled for the 1st to the 12th of November 2021.

Government officials are expected to discuss technical issues including carbon credits, funding for countries vulnerable to climate change and nature-based solutions in the first week of the summit.

The second week will cover topics including gender, transport and the practical solutions needed to adapt to climate impacts.

A full rundown of the presidency programme can be found here with public webcasts available for key meeting and high-level events.

Where is COP26 being held?

For the first time in history, the UN Climate Change Conference is being held in the UK. Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, serves as host.

There are two main sites for the event: the Blue Zone and the Green Zone. The former is where the official negotiations take place, bringing together the delegates and observers through discussions, exhibits and cultural activities.

This UN-managed space is based at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in the west part of the city.


The Green Zone is run by the UK government and is designed to be a platform for the public, artists, academics, and more to encourage grassroots participation and promote conversations around climate change.

This is set to be held at the Glasgow Science Centre, which also includes a 370-seat IMAX cinema auditorium. A full schedule of events happening in the Green Zone and information on how to book tickets can be found here.

Will COP26 be virtual?

Though there may be some virtual elements, the bulk of the convention will be held in person in Glasgow.

There have been concerns that the summit will not be safe, equitable and inclusive. Environmental groups have said that due to red list restrictions and quarantine requirements, countries from the Global South could be left out.

In response, the UK government has said that it will give vaccinations to any delegate who needs one so that as many people as possible can attend in person.

Who is going to be at COP26?

Representatives from more than 190 countries including world leaders and tens of thousands of negotiators are expected to attend, along with members of the press and observer organisations.

British politician Alok Sharma was named President of COP26 in January of this year, and other members of the cabinet such as Michael Gove and Prime Minister Boris Johnson will attend too.

Britain’s Business Secretary and Minister for COP26 Alok Sharma.BEN STANSALL/AFP or licensors

The US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry is set to be a major part of discussions, and President Joe Biden will be at the event too.

This is in part because of this COP’s significance (Barack Obama gave a speech at the last major COP in Paris in 2015), but also to mark his country’s return to the Paris Agreement.

More than 100 world leaders have already confirmed their attendance as the conference approaches including Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison who previously said he might not come.

Due to the importance of this year’s summit, many high profile guests are also planning to go to the Glasgow summit. Greta Thunberg is one of the latest names to join the list of attendees alongside David Attenborough and Pope Francis.

Greta Thunberg gestures as she speaks during a Fridays for Future students’ strike on October 1, 2021 on the sidelines of the Youth4Climate and Pre-COP 26 events in Milan.MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP or licensors

Following medical advice to rest, the Queen has said that she will not be going. Instead she will deliver her address to delegates via a pre-recorded message. Other royals including the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are still set to attend the summit.

The Kremlin has confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin will not be travelling to COP26. Boris Johnson has also been told that Chinese President Xi Jinping will not be in attendance.

Can I go to COP26?

COP events are split across two different sites – the Green Zone and the Blue Zone.

In the Blue Zone, 30,000 experts and decision-makers will take part in panels, discussions and events.

The Green Zone is the area for the public to learn more about COP-related projects. Throughout the two weeks, workshops, exhibitions and discussion groups will help promote social action and education around environmental issues.


These include an electric and hydrogen showcase from the likes of Extreme E as well as experiences from companies such as Microsoft, Unilever and Sky.

Many of the events happening in the Green Zone will also be available online. If you aren’t able to make it to Glasgow, you can join them virtually via the COP26 YouTube channel.

But the official conference isn’t the only way to get involved. The City of Glasgow alongside NGOs and other environmental groups will be holding their own events around COP26.

Protests and mass mobilization are also likely to take place with groups including Extinction Rebellion saying they have disruption planned during the summit.

Why is COP26 so important?

There are two main reasons why the 2021 summit is so important.

Firstly, COVID-19 has refocused priorities and caused individuals and governments alike to pay closer attention to the environment. As many countries look to rebuild their economies in the wake of the pandemic, there has been a major emphasis on ‘building back better’ through a green recovery.

Secondly, COP26 is being viewed as the successor to COP21 where the Paris Accord was signed, arguably the greatest success from the UNFCCC in recent years. COP26 is seen as the summit to both address what has and hasn’t been achieved since 2015, while also setting concrete plans to reach the Paris Agreement targets.

The UN Environment Programme has warned that climate commitments are already falling far short of what is needed to meet these goals – but there is hope from net-zero pledges. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said this should be a “thundering wakeup call” for leaders ahead of the summit.

It’s also the first COP to be held since the US left and rejoined the Paris Agreement, so it’s likely that there will be extra eyes on US contributions to the summit.

What does COP stand for?

Conference of the Parties.

The UNFCCC isn’t the only convention to have a COP either, other treaties like the UN Convention against Corruption also have a COP.

However, the UNFCCC is one of the only COPs to meet annually or have all 197 signatories in attendance.

What other COPs are happening in 2021?

The UNFCCC is particularly special, as it’s one of three conventions to have come out of the 1992 Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

This conference, at the time known as the UN Conference on Environment and Development, saw the birth of three environmental conventions:

  • The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
  • The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
  • The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

These three conventions together are collectively known as the Rio Conventions and have a set of combined aims to protect the planet and its delicately balanced ecosystems.

By chance all three of the Rio Conventions are meeting in 2021. The first part of the CBD COP15 was held in October, followed by COP26 in November, and then UNCCD COP15 at the end of the year.

Some people have dubbed 2021 a ‘super year for nature’ because of the potential for positive environmental change at these three, key events. For the first time ever, nature and how it interacts with other aspects of tackling the climate crisis is a central theme for COP26.

It is hoped that this will bring the aims of these environmental COPs together rather than treating them as separate.

ANALYSIS: COP26: Nigeria’s plan to cut carbon emission to net-zero by 2060 is short on details

“Desertification in the north, drought in the centre, pollution in the coast is enough evidence for all to see, Nigeria is committed to net-zero by 2060.”

On the second day of the world leaders summit of the ongoing United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, in Glasgow, UK, President Muhammad Buhari made a commitment that Nigeria will cut its carbon emission to net-zero by 2060.

While acknowledging the importance of COP26 in the midst of obvious changes in the climate, Mr Buhari said that climate change is not about the problem of the future but about what is already happening.

“Desertification in the north, drought in the centre, pollution in the coast are enough evidence for all to see, Nigeria is committed to net-zero by 2060,” he said on Tuesday.

Nigeria’s commitment

While addressing world leaders, Mr Buhari said Nigeria has developed a detailed energy transition plan and roadmap based on data and evidence and that with Nigeria’s transition plan, gas will play a key role in transitioning the country’s economy across sectors and the data and evidence show Nigeria can continue to use gas until 2040 without detracting from the goals of the Paris agreement.

Earlier on Monday, Mr Buhari joined French President Emmanuel Macron, Prince Charles, and the Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani at a COP 26 side event entitled “Accelerating land restoration in Africa, the case of the Great Green Wall (GGW) initiative.”

The Nigerian leader used the occasion of his address to appeal to fellow leaders to continue to make concerted efforts at land restoration.

‘‘I am optimistic that Africa’s ambition of restoring over 100 million hectares of degraded landscape for productive agriculture is achievable,’’ he said.

President Buhari also pledged Nigeria’s unalloyed commitment to expanding the achievements of the GGW programme in Africa from the enviable status attained under the leadership of President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani of Mauritania.


‘‘Together we commit to the transformative process of restoring the African degraded landscape and ultimately the continent’s environment,’’ he said.

But while the president’s statement and commitments at COP26 have attracted commendation from different quarters including American billionaire Jeff Bezos, who heaped praises on the president for his leadership role in restoring degraded lands in the country and commitment to restore 4 million hectares, climate experts and activists have raised questions on how realistic Nigeria’s commitment is.

In an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, the Director of Centre for Climate Change and Development at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ebonyi State, Chuks Okereke, said it is good news that the president pledged a plan to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2060 but the question is where the numbers came from. He said the details are not in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) submitted by the Nigerian government.

“I think on the positive side we could appreciate the bold announcement and the president’s intent to ensure that Nigeria joins the global green transition. However on the other hand we should question the intention to implement and the source of the data given that this ambition is not in the NDC and the long term vision document recently prepared by the government.”

The president had informed the audience that Nigeria’s revised nationally determined contribution has additional priority sectors, water and waste, nature-based solution, adaptation and resilience, vulnerability assessment, clean cooking, gender and green job assessment, as well as a bottom-up renewable energy transition pathway to 2030.

Buhari’s statement not in sync with the submitted NDC

According to the NDC submitted in July 2021, Nigeria committed to an unconditional contribution of reducing carbon emissions by 20 per cent below business-as-usual by 2030, while it increased its conditional target to 47 per cent as against the 45 per cent captured in the 2015 NDC.

The updated NDC also includes an enhanced contribution by the waste sector, which was not included in the 2015 NDC due to a lack of reliable data.

Mr Okereke said that the president’s announcement is in contrast to what is in NDC, which raises many questions. The professor said he will be looking forward to the detailed plans available to achieve the goal.

We need a shift from the current model

Reacting further to the president’s speech, Edwin Ikhuoria, ONE Campaign’s Africa Executive Director said the Nigerian government’s commitment contained the needed language but was loaded with ambition that requires strategic shifts from the current development model.

“Substantial emphasis on the need for international cooperation, support, and technology transfer almost portends a hazardous reliance on partners to achieve results. If the world ever needed solidarity, now is the time to make it happen. Otherwise, these words are just mere statements that were loaded with potential excuses,” he said.

Apart from experts’ opinions, an article by climate scorecard in August 2021 concluded that if Nigeria were to achieve a goal like becoming carbon neutral, what would be an obstacle, apart from government incompetence, is the nature of the developing economy and the country’s overdependence on fossil fuels.

“The country’s economy is closely tied to oil and gas exports. Profits from petroleum exports currently account for 86% of Nigeria’s total export revenue” (Carbon Brief) Additionally, Oil and Gas collectively provide 70% of Nigeria’s revenue. Thus, as a developing economy, Nigeria relies heavily on the production of non-renewable resources. The economy needs all the support it can get so it is very unlikely that Nigeria will slow down any of its oil production. This will make it very hard for the country to become carbon neutral by 2050.” the article concluded.

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COP26 As It Happened:

Glasgow Climate Pact Signed Into History With Last-Minute Pushback On Coal..


Glasgow Climate Pact signed into history with last-minute pushback on coal

Camilla Hodgson in Glasgow

Global negotiators signed a historic Glasgow Climate Pact on Saturday night but only after China and India watered down a commitment to axe coal and end fossil fuel subsidies.

After tense last-minute bargaining, global leaders sealed a last-minute deal that included for the first time a pledge to reduce the use of fossil fuels.

The final text commits the 197 parties to the Paris agreement to “phase down” unabated coal power and “phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.”

Despite its survival in the final agreement, the contentious clause was substantially weakened over the course of the week. In a last-minute change on Saturday night proposed by India and China, the coal commitment was changed from “phase out” to “phase down”.

The deal also commits countries to strengthen their 2030 emissions reductions targets by the end of 2022 and asks rich nations to “at least double” the amount of money they give developing countries for adapting to climate change.

Coal and fossil fuel pledge weakened further after push back from India and China

But Timmermans said the conclusions drawn on Saturday would mean the world would “work bloody hard at getting rid of coal” and that the draft would help countries move towards that conclusion.

“For us the model we have found, together with the UK, US, Germany and France on South Africa should be the template of how we help other coal-producing countries rid themselves of this fossil.”


India and China introduced a significantly weaker proposal on fossil fuels at the closing stages of COP26 that caused a sharp response from Switzerland and a series of small island states.

Following frantic negotiations over the last half-hour of the final session, India suggested that the draft agreement commit parties to phasing down rather than phase out unabated coal power and suggested the inclusion of an additional clause reading “while providing targeted support to the poorest and the most vulnerable.”

Parties would commit to “escalating efforts to phase down unabated coal power and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies while providing targeted support to the poorest and the most vulnerable in line with national circumstances and recognising the need for support towards a just transition.”

The previous text read: “including accelerating efforts towards the phaseout of unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, recognising the need for support towards a just transition.”

India said it would “call upon parties to escalate development and deployment” of technologies and a transition towards lower energy.

China supported the call “according to what India, China, South Africa and Bolivia delegates, and like-minded countries and other developing countries, expressed [as] concerns.”

In response, Switzerland expressed its “profound disappointment as a result of in transparent process”.

“We do not need to phase down coal but to phase out coal,” the Swiss representative said.

The last-minute change to the wording on phasing out fossil fuel use would make it harder to reach the COP26 goal, she added.

“This will not bring us closer to 1.5C [limit to temperature rise] but make it more difficult to reach it.”

Frans Timmermans, the EU envoy, said he was disappointed with the new phrasing: “The longer you take to phase out coal, the more burden you put on the natural environment and the more burden you put on your economy.”

But Timmermans said the conclusions drawn on Saturday would mean the world would “work bloody hard at getting rid of coal” and that the draft would help countries move towards that conclusion.

“For us the model we have found, together with the UK, US, Germany and France on South Africa should be the template of how we help other coal-producing countries rid themselves of this fossil.”


COP26 President Alok Sharma offered his apologies for the last-minute wording changes on the critical sections on coal and fossil fuels in the Glasgow Agreement, saying he was “deeply sorry” for how the event had concluded.

He became emotional as he said: “May I just say to all delegates I apologise for the way this process has unfolded and I am deeply sorry.”

“I also understand the deep disappointment, but I think as you have noted, it’s also vital that we protect this package.”

Flurry of hall activity as closing plenary heaves into view

COP26 President Alok Sharma went into several huddles after announcing the closing session would take place Saturday evening © AFP via Getty Images

COP26 President Alok Sharma had no sooner said he would begin the formal concluding process this evening for the UN climate summit, than delegates begun hugging and taking pictures for posterity.

If serious objections are raised by countries, then the process could continue through the night. However, several sources close to the process said that the documents were expected to be approved.

As the demob mood began to spread through the hall, not all were looking relaxed.

Saudi Arabia’s head of delegation, Ayman Shasly, a senior negotiator for Saudi Arabia and chair of the powerful Arab Group at the conference was seen in the hallway, talking on two cell phones at once.

Saudi Arabia did not speak in the stocktaking plenary on Saturday afternoon. From the Middle East, it was the Iranian representative who objected to the inclusion of fossil fuels in the final draft text.

On Friday, the negotiator, who previously worked in China for Saudi Aramco, said he believed the draft text was “workable”.

COP26 goes into closing plenary with India and China push back on coal

Emiliya Mychasuk in Glasgow


COP26 President Alok Sharma talks with members of the Chinese delegation in the break before the closing plenary.

In an atmosphere of rising drama as countries, including India, Iran, China and South Africa, objected to the inclusion or wording about the end of fossil fuels in the COP26 draft decision text, the UN proceedings are moving on to the closing session.

COP26 president Alok Sharma ended the earlier so-called “stocktaking plenary” by saying he would move swiftly on — or as swiftly as the UN process can move with almost 200 countries involved.

Sharma said he believed the draft texts drew a “fine and fragile green thread and if any of us tug at that it will unravel all too easily.”

“What we have seen it great deal of consensus and support for these texts, imperfect though they may be.

“Now is the time to confront our responsibility to our people. our world, and our planet, propose to adjourn and then convene formal meeting to consider and adopt the outcome of our work,” he said, announcing the closing plenary would take place after a short break, which sent some teams straight into their huddles.


Australia backs end of coal power with carbon capture

Pilita Clark in Glasgow


Australia’s Ambassador for the Environment Jamie Isbister © REUTERS

Australia was credited for saying it backed the latest draft of the COP26 decision text, which calls for coal-fired power stations to be phased out unless they are fitted with equipment to capture carbon emissions.

The coal-producing country also said it was committed to doubling its climate funding to ensure it contributed to a pledge by rich countries to deliver $100bn a year to help poorer countries address climate change.

“We can accept the text and we look forward to working with people and delivering action as we go forward,” said Canberra’s Environment Ambassador, Jamie Isbister.

He told the Glasgow conference that Australia had also “heard the call for loss and damage” suffered by nations that have often contributed the least to global warming but are now most exposed to its impacts.

Australia has come under sustained criticism from climate campaigners for being slow to adopt a net zero emissions target until the eve of COP26, and even then, failing to offer detailed plans on how it would cut its emissions in line with that 2050 goal.

John Kerry: ‘You can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good’

Jim Pickard in Glasgow


US veteran climate lawyer Sue Biniaz (left) with climate envoy John Kerry meeting with EU representatives at the plenary © Getty Images

John Kerry, the US climate envoy, sought to persuade delegates to accept the draft agreement at COP26, telling them “It’s time to come together for future generations” and sign the deal.

“Not everyone gets the chance to make choices that affect an entire planet. We here today are privileged to do exactly that,” he said. “I hope before dawn we will ratify this text.  so that we can in fact guarantee to our children and grandchildren, next generations, that we did our job.”

Kerry referred to the continuing arguments over specific issues in the agreement, saying that different countries had different priorities.

“If it’s a good negotiation, all the parties are uncomfortable. This I think has been a good negotiation,” he said. “Obviously we know the old adage: you can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

Kerry insisted that the document was offering meaningful changes with promises on mitigation, resilience, and finance.

He said the US was sincere in its offer to consider the issue of “loss and damage”, which developing countries want richer countries to pay for historic costs caused by climate change.

“We look forward to participating constructively in the dialogue on loss and damage and contributing to its success,” he said.

Kerry sought to reassure Gabon, as the leader of the Africa group of countries, that it was wrong to worry that promises of increasing adaptation finance would not be met.

“We are poised to make a remarkable step here, to reflect the best outcome possible of the Paris agreement itself,” he said. “This potential agreement we are poised to accept is a very important step in the right direction.”

Africa group seeks rich countries’ reassurance before ‘boarding the electric train’

Camilla Hodgson in Glasgow

The minister of Gabon, which chairs the Africa group, has demanded “more reassurance” from rich countries that they will make good on their promises of financial aid for climate adaptation “before boarding the electric train leaving the Glasgow COP.”

Minister Lee White expressed disappointment that rich nations, including the US and EU, had refused to sign up to a mandatory levy on carbon credits that will be traded between countries, which would go towards funding adaptation.

Instead, the proposed rules on carbon markets include a commitment for countries to provide voluntary assistance.

“Africa’s red line on the ‘share of proceeds’ has been rubbed out with no compromise,” he said, referring to the clause in the Paris rule book that talks about the levy. “We have a text that is weaker than the compromise that we had in Madrid [the previous COP].”

“We cannot go home to Africa without a reliable package for adaptation,” White said. “Before I leave I need some more reassurance from our developed country partners . . . before boarding the electric train leaving the Glasgow COP.”

Not waving, drowning: Small Island states disappointed

Jim Pickard in Glasgow


Tina Stege from the low-lying Marshall Islands: ‘I am not prepared to leave here with nothing.’ © AFP via Getty Images

The small island states were disappointed by the proposals on loss and damage payments, even if they supported the overarching attempts to get global consensus on tackling climate change.

The Fijian delegation said that they supported the text, even though they were unhappy with the outcome on loss and damage.

“Mr President, we believe that these negotiations represent our best and only chance,” said the Fijian representative. “We need to support the outcome of this conference overall.”

Speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis), a group of nations on the front lines of climate change, Antigua and Barbuda said the group had made a “tremendous effort” to be at COP26 but were now “reflecting on whether it was all worthwhile.”

Key requests from vulnerable nations for support for loss and damage were still not in the draft texts, said Aosis, which had left members “extremely disappointed.”

Tina Stege from the Marshall Islands in the Pacific said the Glasgow package was a “step” for helping the most vulnerable countries facing the “onslaught” of climate change.

“Can we go back to our home islands, to our communities, with nothing? And from my country the answer to that is no. I’m not willing to leave here with nothing,” she said.

“We have a text in front of us. It does not have everything that everyone wants but it has extremely important elements that do serve the planet, it’s not perfect, it is not without fault, we have much work to do. But it does represent real progress . . . we cannot afford to give up on the promise this package offers us.”

EU climate chief warns UN delegates of ‘killing this moment’


Frans Timmermans: ‘For heavens sake, don’t kill this moment by asking for more texts, different texts.’ © REUTERS

The EU’s climate chief Frans Timmermans received a big round of applause after he countered the Indian speaker immediately before him by warning that countries risked “killing this moment” by asking for more changes to the text at the last moment.

“I wonder if we are not at risk of stumbling in this marathon, a couple of meters before reaching the finish line,” he said.

“For heavens sake, don’t kill this moment by asking for more texts, different texts. Everyone has been heard by the presidency for the last couple months,” said Timmermans.

“It is my firm belief that the text that is on the table now, reflects perfectly well, the respect shown by the presidency, and the actions needed for our survival,” he added. “I please implore you.”

Norway’s representative fell in behind Timmermans to add its voice for nations to “coalesce” and said the draft text was “very solid”.

As the plenary enters its final hours, the UK presidency is preparing to issue final legal documents this evening, which will then later be agreed on, or rejected.

India sows discord at summit with fossil fuels protest

Jim Pickard in Glasgow


Bhupender Yadav, India’s environment minister, appeared to dampen hopes of an immediate agreement as he made clear that his country wants the removal of the reference to “fossil fuels” in the shared text.

He said it was reasonable for developing countries to use fossil fuel subsidies — for example for cooking gas for poor households — and maintain a “responsible use of fossil fuels within the system”.

“Consensus remains elusive,” he said. “Developing countries have a right to their fair share of the carbon budget. . . there is still a lack of balance in the text.”

Bhupender Yadav, India’s environment minister, appeared to dampen hopes of an immediate agreement as he made clear that his country wants the removal of the reference to “fossil fuels” in the shared text.

He said it was reasonable for developing countries to use fossil fuel subsidies — for example for cooking gas for poor households — and maintain a “responsible use of fossil fuels within the system”.

“Consensus remains elusive,” he said. “Developing countries have a right to their fair share of the carbon budget. . . there is still a lack of balance in the text.”

China suggests ‘edits’ to proposal to end fossil fuels

Camilla Hodgson in Glasgow


Chinese spokesman observed by the country’s climate envoy Xie Zhenhua (pictured back left) © AFP via Getty Images

China told delegates the country had “no intention” of overhauling the draft COP26 text, but suggested “edits” to the commitment to phasing out fossil fuels.

Noting that the current draft “is by no means perfect,” China’s representative suggested “additional edits” to the paragraph about phasing out coal and fossil fuel subsidies — to make it more closely resemble last week’s China-US joint statement last week and the G20 declaration a few weeks ago.

The joint commitment outlined a plan to eliminate the “support for unabated international thermal coal power generation” but did not mention other fossil fuel subsidies.

In October, the G20 group of nations agreed to end international financing of coal power but stopped short of agreeing to end the use of the fuel in their own countries.

“China hopes that all parties will show maximum flexibility and constructiveness at this final stage,” it said. “The final outcome should be acceptable to all parties.”

South Africa’s representative said the country supported China’s view, noting that “we don’t believe that one size fits all is a good approach when it comes to this particular issue.”

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Powerful G77+ China bloc takes up position on carbon markets

Leslie Hook in Glasgow

One of the most powerful blocs in any COP is known as the “G77+China”, a coalition of developing countries that often act as a unit.

Speaking for the group, the envoy from Guinea laid out what the group would like to see changed.

They appear to have boiled it down to just one red line: the rules on global carbon markets.

As part of the rules, known as Article 6, the countries want a mandatory “share of proceeds”.

The group also said they were “extremely concerned” with the draft texts on loss and damage. “But in the spirit of compromise, we can live with this”.

Tanzania and Mali also both intervened to call for COP26 to include a reference to “systematic observation”, which means the strengthening of systems that monitor and predict weather patterns.

Sharma rallies for final agreement before nightfall

Jim Pickard in Glasgow

Alok Sharma, president of COP26, has now opened the plenary session of politicians from around the world, trying to rally them towards a final agreement before nightfall.

He told delegates that the time has come to “reach a conclusion” and said he hoped that the draft text took into account the views of nearly 200 countries.

“You all know the nature of these negotiations,” he said. “As presidency we have effectively had to take into account and balanced the views of nearly 200 parties.”

For the agreement to go through it needs the signatures of all the countries involved in the COP process, a point noted by Sharma.

“I hope however you share my view that taken together these latest iterations represent the comprehensive, ambitious and balanced set of outcomes that you collectively called for,” he said.

“They will . . . elevate the importance of averting, minimising loss and damage including through strengthened institutional arrangements.”

He attempted to adjourn for further talks but not before several parties put their hands up to speak, led by Guinea, followed closely by China and Tanzania, and India, before the dam broke over its controversial statement, and dozens of other nations decided to take the chance to speak.

Sharma said representatives could make statements this afternoon, but he urged them to avoid “general statements” and only give speeches in relation to the final text.

He said everyone in the room knew that collectively their climate action had so far “fallen short on promises made in Paris” at that summit six years ago.

“These texts recognise this and set out a clear response. Many will call for that response to go even further but these decisions I believe set out . . . clear milestones to reach the goals of the Paris agreement,” he said.

“They are guided by equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities of different national circumstances.”

The issues being debated in Glasgow had “evaded us for far too long”, said Sharma.

Kerry and Xie huddle in demonstration of US-China dialogue


Observers in the plenary room awaiting the so-called “stocktaking” session to begin were gripped by the display of seeming collaboration between US envoy John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua.

Accompanied only by Xie’s diminutive translator, next to a towering Kerry, they were somewhat animated and engaged for more than 15 minutes.

This followed an earlier less exclusive huddle which included other team members, as they collectively examined a document in Kerry’s hands.

The duo was eventually joined by EU envoy Frans Timmermans for a very brief exchange, before Xie then took his seat.

Timmermans and Kerry continued an informal discussion with UK COP President Alok Sharma and lead negotiator Archie Young to one side.

The rescheduled 2.30pm restart for the plenary — originally set for midday — is again overtime. However, COP soothsayers say this may be a good sign that consensus is being achieved.

COP26: Plenary delayed while ministers put heads together

Leslie Hook in Glasgow


Alok Sharma with members of his COP26 team and Patricia Espinosa, the head of the  United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change © AFP via Getty Images

The plenary session has been formally delayed to give parties more time for discussion, said Alok Sharma, the President of COP26.

Sharma insisted that the COP would still finish on Saturday night, despite several observes suggesting it might stretch into Sunday morning.

“It is my intention that we will close this COP this afternoon. We will close,” said Sharma, in a refrain that failed to see the talks close on schedule on Friday. No COP has ever closed on time, however.

“We believe we have put forward a balanced package,” he added. “While not every aspect will be welcomed by everyone, collectively we believe this is a package that really moves things forward for everyone. ”

Ministers huddle on floor of plenary room with climate damage payments under discussion

Leslie Hook in Glasgow


Ministers are huddling on the floor of the plenary room at COP26, with one key issue under discussion: loss and damage.

A group of small island nations held informal deliberations in various parts of the cavernous room — with empty spaces for social distancing — as many are concerned the existing provisions to compensate poor countries for the damage caused by climate change are not acceptable to them in the latest draft text published this morning.

The plenary scheduled start time at midday has been overrun as a result. Many delegates expect that tense negotiations could run through into late Saturday night.

US climate envoy John Kerry was in one large huddle, flanked by Sue Biniaz, a COP veteran and state department lawyer who is a key member of his team and played a central role for the US in major climate talks.

EU green envoy Frans Timmermans was elsewhere on the floor with another group.

Stéphane Crouzat, French climate envoy, says that he isn’t exactly “happy” with the new texts that were published in the morning, but adds: “We can live with it.”

Bangladesh: more or less satisfied

Leslie Hook in Glasgow

While there has been a lot of pushbacks from developing countries on the latest COP draft texts, Bangladesh says they are more or less satisfied.

“We are not unhappy, actually,” said Mohammed Mostafa Kamal, secretary of the environment ministry for Bangladesh. He said the outcome of COP26 should be a starting point.

“Because this is not the end of COP — COP is continuing. This is not the end of finance. Financing will continue. So, we need to come to a good conclusion, for a good start in the next COP,” he said.

While there has been a lot of pushbacks from developing countries on the latest COP draft texts, Bangladesh says they are more or less satisfied.

“We are not unhappy, actually,” said Mohammed Mostafa Kamal, secretary of the environment ministry for Bangladesh. He said the outcome of COP26 should be a starting point.

“Because this is not the end of COP — COP is continuing. This is not the end of finance. Financing will continue. So, we need to come to a good conclusion, for a good start in the next COP,” he said.

Can the world ‘keep 1.5C alive’


A reminder of what is at stake at COP26: the need to limit global warming after a rise in temperatures of 1.1C already due to human activity since pre-industrial times.

To avoid the worst effects of climate change — from extreme heat, fires and drought to storms and floods — global greenhouse gas emissions will need to drop by half by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.

Under the Paris accord in 2015, almost 200 countries agreed to limit global warming to 2C or ideally 1.5C, to avert catastrophic weather events.

This requires them to individually pledge significant cuts in their emissions. The current most optimistic pledges and net zero targets that have been set by the countries at the COP26 climate summit exhaust the carbon budget for holding global warming to 1.5C with a 50 per cent probability in the early 2030s.

UN member country differences to be aired

Emiliya Mychasuk


The dividing lines that have been behind the scenes in negotiations at the UN climate talks get a chance to be aired on Saturday at an afternoon plenary session.

This will see ministers from dozens of countries speak on behalf of their nations about the shortcomings and support they have for various parts of the agreement.

The last session on Friday drew varying rounds of applause and silence for ministers from a host of nations.

A rousing and personal speech about the future for his grandson earned EU green envoy Frans Timmermans a cheered response, while sincere pledges from Canada and Norway were also warmly greeted.

The impassioned speeches from small island states and vulnerable nations, such as Kenya, Papua New Guinea, the Marshall Island and Tuvalu, drew sustained loud applause.

The reaction to Saudi Arabia and Russian remarks was more muted, as the fossil-fuel reliant states were seen to be a block on various subjects, including transparency into counting of their emissions.

Delegates are waiting to see how much longer they may be kept as negotiations drag on through the weekend, as their ministers state their position in the open at the plenary today.

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