Climate COP26 Summit

Youth climate activists protest that representatives of the fossil fuel industry have been allowed inside the venue during the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

GLASGOW, Scotland — Going into overtime Friday night, negotiators at UN climate talks  in Glasgow were still trying to find common ground on phasing out coal, when nations need to update their emission-cutting pledges and, especially, on money.

Talks are at a “bit of a stalemate,” and the United States, with support from the European Union, is holding back talks, said Lee White, the Gabonese minister for forests and climate change.

Mohamed Adow of Climate Action Network International, a long-time talks observer, said poorer nations are beyond disappointed with the way the United Kingdom presidency has come up with drafts and that this has become “a rich world” negotiation. He said poorer nations cannot accept what has been proposed.

US Climate Envoy John Kerry on Friday night told The Associated Press that climate talks are “working away” after a late night meeting with his Chinese counterpart and before a hallway chat with India’s negotiator.

No agreement was ready by the 6 p.m. local time scheduled end of the conference. And sometimes that helps diplomats get in a more deal-making mood. 

“The negotiating culture is not to make the hard compromises until the meeting goes into extra innings, as we now have done,” said long-time climate talks observer Alden Meyer of the European think tank E3G. “But the UK presidency is still going to have to make a lot of people somewhat unhappy to get the comprehensive agreement we need out of Glasgow.”

Three sticking points were making people unhappy on Friday: coal, cash and timing.

Friday morning’s draft proposals from the meeting’s chair called on countries to accelerate “the phaseout of unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels.”

A previous draft Wednesday had been stronger, calling on countries to “accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuel.”

Kerry said Washington backed the current wording. “We’re not talking about eliminating” coal, he told fellow climate diplomats. But, he said: “Those subsidies have to go.”

Kerry said it was “a definition of insanity” that trillions were being spent to subsidize fossil fuels worldwide. “We’re allowing to feed the very problem we’re here to try to cure. It doesn’t make sense.”

But there was a mixed response from activists and observers on how significant the addition of the words “unabated” and “inefficient” was.

Richie Merzian, a former Australian climate negotiator who directs the climate and energy program at the Australia Institute think tank, said the additional caveats were “enough that you can run a coal train through it.”

(1) comment

Jimzan 2.0

All the ""climate change supporters"" should sell their cars (prices are up for used autos), and start riding bikes or start walking everywhere. That alone would address a huge amount of climate issues....Talk is cheap Greenies...time to STFU and walk the walk...you polluting POS. Until I see Greenies walking (or riding bikes) on the side of the road (not just for a day or a month, but forever) I will see Climate Change as a Hoax played on cowardly morons...that are wearing masks, and kneeling.

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