THE PRESIDENT of COP26 has warned that “fault lines remain on some critical issues” between nations ahead of crunch climate talks in Glasgow later this year.
Alok Sharma hosted environment ministers from more than 50 countries in London ahead of the global climate conference taking place in Glasgow in November.
But Mr Sharma was left “disappointed” after a failure to reach an agreement on ending the sue of coal.
The two-day gathering intended to sketch out a potential agreement to be reached in Glasgow to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C.
Despite progress being made, Mr Sharma has stressed that compromise will be required if a Glasgow agreement is to be reached.
The London event resulted in Canada and Germany leading a roadmap to unlock $100 billion a year in climate finance from developed countries needed to help developing nations contributing to climate crisis action.
Countries also came closer together on key issues including actions to keep the 1.5C goal alive, adaptation finance and concluding the Paris rulebook.
Ministers from Singapore and Norway agreed to continue consulting informally with ministers on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which relates to carbon markets, while Rwanda and Switzerland’s ministers agreed to consult on common time frames for emissions reduction commitments, or nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
The importance of ending coal power, coal financing and fossil fuel subsidies was raised with Italy’s G20 leaders’ summit in October seen as a key moment for action.
But Mr Sharma said there remained “significant differences” on some issues and it was “very disappointing” not to come to an agreement on coal.
“We weren’t able to get every country in the G20 to agree to language on unabated coal phase-out,” said Mr Sharma.
“For me, it is very disappointing and it was very disappointing for those countries who are supportive of this policy.”
The conference president said he “completely accepted” that “different countries start from different positions in terms of their energy mix” but pointed to the UK’s own shift towards renewable energy.
“In the UK, 40% of our electricity was coming from coal power back in 2012 – we are now at less than 2%; it is going to be phased out completely by 2024.
“We’ve managed to grow the biggest offshore wind sector in the world and that’s because we have put in place the right market mechanisms to allow the private sector to invest as well.
“It is certainly the case that unless we are going to get all countries signed up to unabated coal phase-out, then keeping 1.5C within reach will be extremely difficult.”
With the Covid-delayed Glasgow gathering less than 100 days away, Mr Sharma stressed that “every day counts” and argued it was “incumbent on every country to give their all to this process”.
“Ultimately, there is not going to be anywhere to hide at COP26, each of us will be in the spotlight and we will only deliver this by working together,” he said.
Mr Sharma welcomed the progress at the talks but has warned significant further work is needed, particularly on finance, adaptation and other crucial issues, with less than 100 days to go before countries come together in Glasgow for formal discussions.
Mr Sharma said: “The steps we have taken over the past two days bring us closer to securing an outcome at Glasgow that people and our planet are crying out for.
“However, fault lines remain on some critical issues, and there is more work to do. We have asked ministers to lead conversations in order to bridge divides and get us in the best possible position for COP26.
“Every country must now give their all to this process; lives and livelihoods depend on it, and we have no time to waste.”
Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, added: “There can be no neutral position when it comes to climate action.
“It is necessary to come to an understanding and ensure the full implementation of the Paris Agreement, which is the most comprehensive and the only reliable strategy to address climate change.”