Draft of the final declaration watered down the goal of the coal phase-out

Cop26 in Glasgow

The climate conference is likely to be extended, but a first draft for the final declaration is already in circulation.

(Photo: AP)

Berlin, Glasgow It is a setback for climate protection. Under pressure from China, India and Saudi Arabia, the commitment to phase out coal was weakened in a new draft of the final declaration of the World Climate Conference. Instead of the call to accelerate the coal phase-out and the end of subsidies for fossil fuels, the current draft only talks about ending “inefficient subsidies” and old coal-fired power plants whose carbon dioxide emissions are not bound. The addition “inefficient” could leave a back door open for countries to hold onto fossil fuels longer.

From the point of view of observers, however, it would be a success if a commitment to phasing out coal were included in the final declaration for the first time. Even the passage in the draft that is now at hand is tantamount to an outlawing of coal, said Christoph Bals, political director of the environmental and development organization Germanwatch, the Handelsblatt.

Other elements in the second draft, published by the UK Presidency on Friday morning, also give cause for hope.

The industrialized countries are urged to “urgently and significantly” increase their financial aid for poorer countries. For the first time, a specific deadline is given: The financial aid is to be doubled by 2025. The industrialized countries are urged to provide “better and additional” support to take action against climate damage.

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Greenpeace calls for more ambitious formulations

The declaration confirms the goal of the Paris Climate Agreement to limit global warming to below two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times. At the same time, the states want to “try” to slow down the rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees.

It is recognized that a limit to 1.5 degrees requires “rapid, deep and sustainable reductions” in global greenhouse gas emissions, it continues. It is explicitly mentioned that carbon dioxide emissions will have to fall by 45 percent by 2030 compared to 2010 levels if the target is to be achieved.

The German Greenpeace leader Martin Kaiser called on the federal government to advocate more ambitious formulations. “If there is no clear statement about fossil fuels, the whole thing threatens to become an air issue,” Kaiser told the German press agency. Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) must now “hang in there” and send a strong signal together with the EU delegation.

According to the acting Federal Environment Minister, the COP has already made progress. “While in Paris everyone was still talking about reaching two degrees, or even better 1.5 degrees. Now everyone is talking about 1.5 degrees as a matter of course, that is a further development that one imagines more ”, Schulze said on Friday morning to the radioeins broadcaster from the rbb. It is also important that there is now a discussion about how implementations can be designed, “no longer just discussions about goals”.

Not just “blah, blah and blah”

Schulze’s State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth rejected criticism that words would not be followed by deeds in Glasgow. The assessment that the conference would only consist of “bla, bla and bla” is not correct, said Flasbarth on Deutschlandfunk. “There are also implementations to follow.” The European Union’s climate protection projects were followed by a legislative package that was very specific. There is also an agreement between western states to help South Africa exit coal.

Flasbarth described the climate pact between the USA and China as the greatest success of Glasgow. It is true that agreement on a number of important points still has to be achieved at the conference. But the event is not over yet.

Observers expect an extension to at least Saturday. At the end of the conference, the 200 or so countries have to officially decide together on the final text of the declaration. The last climate conference in Madrid two years ago only ended on Sunday – with a tired compromise.

More: China and the USA are putting climate above what is actually a “toxic bilateral relationship” – what this can mean for the future

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