A battle is developing at the UN climate summit over the sensitive issue of how soon after the end of COP26 countries new climate targets will be presented to the UN, after promises made so far have fallen short.
The UK, US and EU, along with a few others, want all countries to come up with new targets by the end of 2022, a significant acceleration from the 2025 deadline in the Paris Climate Agreement.
However, China and other major emitters resist this commitment and insist on sticking to the original five-year time frameworks in the Paris Treaty.
The UK, as the COP host country, intends to address the issue as one of the key bottlenecks in the final texts that will summarize the conclusions of COP26 when negotiations end, according to officials.
The first version of it texts was published on Wednesday morning, and will be debated by countries in a plenary session.
The document “encourages parties to review and strengthen the 2030 targets in what are known as nationally determined contributions, as needed to meet the temperature target of the Paris Agreement by the end of 2022”.
The text will still undergo significant revision as countries fight over the language in the coming days.
As negotiations reach their final days, significant rifts arise between countries over how to approach the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C, which was set as the ideal in the Paris Agreement.
Current national promises, made by 152 countries before and during the Glasgow summit, put the world on course for between 2.5C and 2.7C of global warming by the end of the century.
To address the shortfall in existing promises, the UK and others hoped to persuade countries to return next year with updated climate targets, known as nationally set contributions.
Frans Timmermans, EU climate chief, referred to the issue when he addressed the plenary meeting at COP26 on Tuesday afternoon.
“We are moving in the right direction, but the world is still too far away from our 1.5 degree goal,” he said.
“We need to make sure we make decisions that put us on track to achieve our goal, and that needs to be done within a year, because time is running out.”
The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, approved by 197 countries, aims to limit global warming to well below 2C. However, as the climate impacts of 2C increase, an increasing number of countries believe that limiting warming to 1.5C, the much more difficult goal, is essential.
The UK’s unofficial slogan at the COP26 summit of “Keep 1.5 Alive” as the COP host means it has pushed hard for other countries to take greater steps to reduce emissions to make it possible.
Greenhouse gas emissions will have to fall by about half this decade from about 50 billion tons currently, to keep the world on track for 1.5C of warming, according to the UN Environment Program.
U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said Tuesday he was negotiating until the early hours of the morning, in a sign of tension as countries battled their positions over the past week. “It’s far too early for a 3pm night at the COP,” he said. “Maybe on Friday, but not Monday [night]. ”
The summit will end on Friday at 18:00, but may impress overtime if negotiators do not agree on items, including the timing of new targets, as well as rules for implementing the Paris Agreement.
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