Nearly 200 countries at the United Nations COP26 summit in Scotland have agreed a deal to contain the world’s climate crisis – but observers said it did not go far enough to tackle dangerous warming.
The final text of the Glasgow summit was finally adopted on Saturday, a day after the talks had initially been scheduled to end and following a last-minute proposed change by India that called on parties to “phase-down” rather than “phase-out” coal, the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions.
The agreement is the first ever UN climate deal to explicitly plan to reduce coal, but several countries – including small, low-lying island states – said they were deeply disappointed by the watering down of the crucial language.
Others slammed the revision as odious and against the rules, but said it was something they had to accept to bring the two weeks of talks in Glasgow to a close.
“There was a real sense of ambush in the air,” Al Jazeera’s Nick Clark, reporting from the talks, said.
COP26 President Alok Sharma said he was “deeply sorry” for how the summit ended.
“May I just say to all delegates I apologise for the way this process has unfolded and I am deeply sorry,” he said, his voice breaking with emotion after hearing from vulnerable nations which expressed their anger over the changes to the text.
“I also understand the deep disappointment but I think as you have noted, it’s also vital that we protect this package.”
Before India succeeded in getting the change made, nation after nation talked about the final provisions not going far or fast enough but a compromise was better than nothing and provided progress, if not success.
Negotiators say the agreement is aimed at keeping alive the overarching 2015 Paris Agreement goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times.
The delegates were also tasked with finding the funding for nations most at risk of climate-related droughts, floods and storms supercharged by rising seas.
Observers said the agreement fell far short of what is needed to avert dangerous warming and help countries adapt or recoup damages from the disasters already unfurling globally.
Laurence Tubiana, the architect of the Paris deal, told AFP that “COP has failed to provide immediate assistance for people suffering now”. – Al Jazeera/Agencies
COP26 President Alok Sharma makes his concluding remarks during the conference in Glasgow [Paul Ellis/AFP]