Climate Talks End in a Deal Without Altering Planet's Course

Weakened wording on coal clears way for accord
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2021 4:30 PM CST
Weakened Deal on Coal Clears Way for Accord in Climate Talks
US envoy John Kerry, center, walks through the climate conference Saturday.   (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

(Newser) – Negotiators from almost 200 nations reached an accord Saturday in the fight against climate change, acknowledging that the problem isn't solved but setting up another attempt at more dramatic action next year. The Glasgow summit did not achieve the central goal of agreeing on action to limit the warming of Earth to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, the Washington Post reports. So the planet then remains on course for increasingly severe damage and weather events. The nations did pressure each other to take greater action, and summit leaders say the agreement at least "keeps 1.5 alive"—a destination possibly to be reached soon.

As the UN climate conference wound down, progress was stalled over what to say about coal, per the AP. At the last minute, India pushed through a wording change saying the nations will "phase down" rather than "phase out" coal. The weakened commitment will make it harder to reach the 1.5-degree goal, a Swedish official said. Without the change, nations were still on track on that goal; the planet already has heated up 1.1 degrees. India received much of the blame. "India has long been a blocker on climate action," an Australian climate scientist said, "but I have never seen it done so publicly." Coal is the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

John Kerry, the US envoy, was among those emphasizing the positive. "It's a good deal for the world," he said Saturday. "It's got a few problems, but it’s all in all a very good deal." There was a divide between richer and poorer nations in Glasgow, but they agreed in the end that wealthier nations should "at least double" financial assistance to nations most at risk from global warming by 2025. And there was agreement, per the New York Times, that everyone needs to do more. Nations were asked to return next year with more dramatic proposals for reducing their emissions, but there had been hope that issue would have been settled by now. (Read more UN climate summit stories.)

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