Barack Obama backs push for firm 1.5C limit at Cop26 summit

Developing countries pushing for a climate deal that limits global heating to 1.5C have been given a boost after Barack Obama signalled his support.

The former US president said: “Science has made it clear. The dangers of a warming climate are greater than we thought.” In a private gathering of High Ambition Coalition ministers, Obama said: “What you are doing – what the HAC is attempting to accomplish – is vital.”

Noting the coalition’s role at the 2015 Cop summit in ensuring the target of 1.5C was written into the Paris agreement, hy het bygevoeg: “The brutal tempests of the warming climate are making even clearer that we cross that line at our peril. Once again … it falls on the High Ambition Coalition to make that case.

“You’ve come together once again to speak to not only the need to get to 1.5C, but also to provide the adaptation funding that’s necessary for those who may end up paying the steepest price for actions that they themselves did not take.”

A draft statement from the HAC noted on Monday the “deep concern” over the gap between existing commitments on greenhouse gas emissions made at Cop26, and the far deeper cuts needed to limit global heating to within 1.5C of pre-industrial levels.

The countries are demanding that the parties to the Paris agreement keep returning annually to the negotiating table until pledges are in line with the 1.5C, and they want all countries to come with nationally determined contributions in line with that target by next year.

The statements reads: '[Ons] stress the urgent need to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in this decisive decade, and recognise the importance of ambitious action by the G20, whose members, if they align their policies with a 1.5C pathway, could limit global warming by 2100 to 1.7C.”

Current pledges on emissions under the Paris agreement would lead to a rise of 2.7C, according to the UN. Some estimates last week based on pledges made outside the UN process put the likely rise at 1.8C or 1.9C, but those estimates are based on untested assumptions and sometimes vague commitments.

The HAC, which includes the US, EU member states and dozens of developing countries, was a leading force at the 2015 summit, pushing for a 1.5C limit to be included in the Paris agreement.

Not all countries in the coalition have signed the statement, maar die 40 current signatories include major groups of developing countries: the Alliance of Small Island States, the Least Developed Countries and the African Group.

The group said the statement and support for it signalled “growing momentum behind a Cop26 outcome that reduces emissions drastically and limits temperature rise to 1.5C. It elevates the importance of climate adaptation as a critical element of global climate action, and addresses the resources needed for the world to adapt, keep a target of 1.5C alive, and respond to loss and damage.

In an interview with the Guardian, Bolivia’s chief negotiator, Diego Pacheco Balanza, criticised rich countries’ refusal to discuss loss and damage or compensation at Cop26 as evidence of “diplomatic bullying”.

Hy het gesê: “There’s been a systematic attempt by developed countries to remove all discussion about responsibility, compensation and direct climate finance from the negotiations, it’s shameful. In plaas daarvan, they want us to focus on carbon markets and their 2050 net zero narrative, which is completely meaningless. The net zero narrative is a big lie. We need to eliminate greenhouse gases now, not in 30 jaar. ”

In response to the first draft of the Glasgow decision text published on Monday, which contains no mention of phasing out fossil fuels, Pacheco said: “It shows how developed countries are trying to impose the net zero and carbon markets narrative, it’s a form of diplomatic bullying. They are always trying to destroy what’s been achieved at previous climate negotiations and start again, so we never move forward.”

HAC has called on other countries to address the issue of adaptation, to ramp up climate finance, and to reduce emissions through action on coal, fossil fuel subsidies and methane, and ambitious policies in transport, including shipping.

The coalition is trying to refocus the talks on the key goal of Cop26 – keeping 1.5C alive – amid fears that it is slipping out of reach, as some countries have shown unwillingness to agree to an acceleration of the Paris ratchet mechanism, by which countries bring back improved commitments, currently every five years. Draft proposals for the “Cop decision” – likely to be the main outcome from the Glasgow conference – were also criticised by Greenpeace and others as too weak.

The campaigning group was particularly concerned that references to phasing out fossil fuels, which some countries want to be included in a final outcome, were being objected to by countries including Saudi Arabia.

Jennifer Morgan, the executive director of Greenpeace International, has been to every Cop meeting and said the mention of fossil fuels had been blocked by the same countries each time.

“What’s very concerning here in Glasgow is that the first draft of the climate pact text is already exceptionally weak. Usually the text starts with some ambition, which then gets watered down," sy het gese. “To keep 1.5 lewendig, four words must be added: ‘fossil fuels phase out’, and countries must come back next year to close the gap.”

Insiders in the negotiations reported a constructive atmosphere as no country wanted to be seen as the one to prevent a successful outcome. But they warned that some countries could try to use procedural mechanisms to stymie the talks this week.




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