Cop26: Negotiators face ‘monumental challenge’ as summit running out of time, says Sharma

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Negotiators at the climate change summit in Glasgow face a “monumental challenge” to deliver a credible deal in the few days left to them, Cop26 president Alok Sharma has warned.

Officials are still hopeful that an agreed text will be produced by the scheduled end of the summit on Friday afternoon, though many delegates think that the summit will spill over into the weekend as wrangling intensifies on crucial details.

There are fears that the crucial reference in Wednesday’s draft agreement - unprecedented in a UN climate document - to phasing out coal and ending subsidies for fossil fuels is unlikely to survive horse-trading as the deadline approaches.

UN secretary general Antonio Guterres today said that the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C is “on life support”, as the talks have come nowhere near meeting the United Nations priority of securing pledges to cut carbon emissions by half by 2030.

In a press conference in Glasgow, Mr Sharma rejected suggestions that the gathering had failed, insisting that the aim of the UK presidency had always been the less ambitious target of being able to say credibly that “we have kept 1.5C within reach”.

But he acknowledged that he was still not able to make that claim.

“Whilst we have made progress, we are not there yet on the most crucial issues,” he said.

“There is still a lot more work to be done and Cop26 is scheduled to close at the end of tomorrow.

“Time is running out.”

Mr Sharma urged all countries to “strain every sinew to achieve a timely outcome that we can all be proud of”, warning: “We still have a monumental challenge ahead of us.”

The last phase of the talks is focusing on finding “ways forward” on finance and carbon markets, he said, adding: “Negotiations on finance really need to accelerate and they need to accelerate now.

“Having engaged extensively with parties of the past year and at Cop, I know that everyone understands what is at stake for the future of our planet here in Glasgow.

“We still have a monumental challenge ahead of us, but collectively we have no choice but to rise to that challenge and strain every sinew to achieve a timely outcome that we can all be proud of.

“Because ultimately, this outcome, whatever it is, will belong to all of us.”

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