Updated COP26 draft plan waters down key language on fossil fuels and NDCs

With negotiations scheduled to finish later today (12 November) at COP26, a new draft plan has been unveiled with subtle yet important changes, such as "requesting" that nations submit updated climate plans by the end of 2022, but has watered down facets on fossil fuels.

Updated COP26 draft plan waters down key language on fossil fuels and NDCs

Regardless of language

The “final draft” document was scheduled to arrive last night following a day of exhaustive negotiations at COP26 in Glasgow. As with every promised document this week, the updated “cover decision” did not emerge on time, but was published just after 7:00 am this morning.

In what is largely a game of spot the difference between this document and previous daft, which was published on Wednesday, negotiators have made a few important tweaks to the language issued in the document.

Nationally Determined Contributions

The first version of the draft encouraged nations who are yet to do so to update their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by November 2022. The specific language used in the document was that it “urges” nations to “revisit and strengthen” their 2030 targets by the end of next year, in line with net-zero and the Paris Agreement.

In the updated version of the draft, the document the language on submitting these new NDCs was changed from “urges” to “requests”. It remains to be seen if this will lead to some sort of mandate on national climate plans for Paris Agreement parties. According to the UN, ‘requests’ is actually a weaker choice of words than ‘urges’.

Fossil fuels

The first version also marked a historic moment for COP26 negotiation texts. It called upon nations “to accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels”.

In the updated version, the language has been watered down slightly. It now only calls for the phase-out of “unabated” coal power and “inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels”. It comes after nations such as Saudi Arabia lobbied for the reference of fossil fuels to be removed from the documents altogether.

Climate finance

The first version “notes with serious concern that the current provision of climate finance for adaptation is insufficient” and calls for greater support via grants (rather than commonly used loans” to mobilise climate finance for developing nations. The document “notes with regret” about missing the $100bn financing target.

In the updated version, the language changes to “notes with deep regret” that the $100bn target was not met, and now “urges” that the target is reached “urgently & through 2025”

Adaptation and loss

The first version “expresses alarm and concern that human activities have caused around 1.1C of global warming to date” and stresses the “urgency of increased ambition and action” across key themes such as mitigation, adaptation and finance.

The updated version adds an extra line on adaptation. The latest documents notes that a “technical assistance facility” will be introduced to support loss and damage in relation to climate change in developing countries. This will fall under the Santiago Network from the UNFCCC.

A final and official decision is scheduled to be published later today. However, the last five COPs have failed to finish on the scheduled day and have overrun into the weekend. Expect the same to happen this week in Glasgow.

edie will continue to provide updates on the negotiations as they come in. Stay up-to-date with the latest news from COP26 with edie’s Live Blog. 

Matt Mace

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