Climate talks draft agreement expresses ‘alarm and concern’

Negotiators at the United Nations climate talks are considering a draft decision that highlights “alarm and concern” about global warming the planet already is experiencing and continues to call on the world to cut about half of its emissions of heat-trapping gases by 2030.

The early version of the cover decision released Wednesday at the climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, doesn’t provide specific agreements on the three major goals that the U.N. set going into the negotiations.

The draft mentions the need to cut emissions by 45% by 2030 from 2010 levels and achieve “net-zero” by mid-century. Doing so requires countries to pump only as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as can be absorbed again through natural or artificial means.

It urges countries to “accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels,” but makes no explicit reference to ending the use of oil and gas.

The draft also acknowledges “with regret” that rich nations have failed to live up to their pledge of providing $100 billion a year in financial help by 2020 to help poor nations dead with global warming.

The draft reaffirms the goals set in Paris in 2015 of limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times, with a more stringent target of trying to keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) preferred.

Highlighting the challenge of meeting those goals, the document “expresses alarm and concern that human activities have caused around 1.1 C (2 F) of global warming to date and that impacts are already being felt in every region.”

Separate draft proposals were also released on other issues being debated at the talks, including rules for international carbon markets and the frequency by which countries have to report on their efforts.

The draft calls on nations that don’t have national goals that would fit with the 1.5 or 2 degree temperature rise limits to come back with stronger targets next year. Depending on the language is interpreted, the provision could apply to most countries. Analysts at the World Resources Institute counted this element of the draft as a win for vulnerable countries.

“This is crucial language,’’ WRI International Climate Initiative Director David Waskow said Wednesday. “Countries really are expected and are on the hook to do something in that timeframe to adjust.’’

In a nod to one of the big issues for poorer countries, the draft vaguely “urges” developed nations to compensate developing countries for “loss and damage,” a phrase that some rich nations don’t like.

Whatever comes out of the meeting in Glasgow has to be unanimously approved by nearly 200 nations attending the negotiations.

A lot of negotiating and decision-making is to come in the next three or possibly four days. The deadline for the talks is Friday, but climate talks often go past planned end dates. The cover decisions provide more than anything the parameters for the issues that need to be resolved in the last few days of the annual U.N. conference, Waskow said.

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