Draft UN COP26 Climate Forum Text ‘Weaker’ on Fossil Fuels Than Expected

Draft UN COP26 Climate Forum Text 'Weaker' on Fossil Fuels Than Expected folks attend a session inside the venue of the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland (Alberto Pezzali/AP)

By Charles Kim | Saturday, 13 November 2021 01:44 PM

As talks continue at the United Nations COP26 climate forum in Glasgow, Scotland, the third draft of the meeting's consensus appears to be "weaker" than expected when it comes to phasing out fossil fuels.

"Regarding the phaseout of coal and fossil fuels, it is sad to see that the current text — it's weaker than the previous one," The Hill reported a member of the Panama delegation said Friday. "We must keep them in the ground."

According to The Hill, the draft released Saturday is the first to mention fossil fuels, which the group sees as a main driver of manmade climate change.

The initial draft document Thursday called for phasing out coal and fossil fuel subsides entirely, while that language was cut down to "inefficient" subsidies, and "unabated" coal mining in a second iteration Friday.

Saturday's draft release mentions the need to move away from fossil fuels without impacting jobs or fuel costs to poorer people.

The watered-down language in the document led to criticism by environmental groups like Greenpeace.

"The key line about fossil fuels is still in the text," Executive Director Jennifer Morgan said in a statement to The Hill. "It's weak and compromised, but it's a breakthrough. It's a bridgehead and we have to fight like hell to keep it in there and have it strengthened. Today's plenary could witness a defining moment with a clutch of countries seeking to strike that line from the deal and dilute plans to force nations to come back next year with better emissions plans."

The 26th annual COP26 summit is the 2021 United Nations climate change conference and includes leaders from 190 countries around the world to discuss ways to comply with the 2015 Paris Agreement reached during the COP21 conference.

The agreement, signed by 196 countries, seeks to keep a 2-degree Celsius temperature change during this century, and try to reduce that to 1.5-degrees if possible.

The accords are to be renewed by signatory countries every five years and help provide financing to poorer countries to mitigate the impact of climate change and to adapt to climate change, according to the UN.

Former President Donald Trump announced it would withdraw from the Paris agreement in 2017, taking effect last year, but President Joe Biden returned to it since taking office in January, speaking at this year's conference.

Special envoy to the president on climate John Kerry said during the conference the United States "won't have coal" by 2030.