How China could BLOCK climate deal at COP26 – deal is on ‘life support’

US climate pact with China criticised by commentator

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China could block a key pledge in the COP26 agreement as the final day of the climate conference gets underway. The move could thwart a deal between the 197 countries in attendance, with China and other big polluters attempting to block a section on reducing emissions.

Why is China attempting to block the deal?

China is one of several countries that want to remove an entire section of the COP26 deal.

The section in question deals with carbon emissions within the next decade, and China has objected to a call to speed up the removal of fossil fuel subsidies and coal.

This deal would be the first time coal and fossil fuel subsidies have been mentioned in the final text at the annual summit.

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China is the world’s biggest user of coal, alongside other countries like India, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Alarm has been expressed by others over the attempt to remove the section – particularly at this late stage in negotiations.

UK lead negotiator Archie Young said: “That gives you a sense that there is not yet a consensus that we do need to collectively ramp up our ambition.”

EU climate envoy Frans Timmermans expressed similar sentiment.

He said: “If you remove it from the text, what is the message you’re sending there?

“It has to be part of the conclusion. Removing it would be an extremely, extremely bad signal.”

However, some developing countries have backed or expressed solidarity with China’s move.

Chief negotiator for Bolivia Diego Pacheco said: “There is a historical responsibility of developed countries with the climate crisis, and in context they should take the lead in combatting climate change.

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“We are very concerned with the narrative in the section of mitigation ambition.

“That’s why we requested to the presidency to remove completely the section on mitigation, because they are trying in that context to shift their responsibilities from the developed world to the developing world.”

The lead Africa negotiator Tanguy Gahouma-Bekale said developing countries could not be expected to rid themselves of fossil fuels without the help of developed countries aiding them to move to cleaner alternatives.

He said: “We are far from the 1.5C, and that is because many developed countries did not respect their own commitments.”

Climate finance has been one of the stickiest issues of the conference, with the US and EU refusing to give anymore money to help developing countries move on from non-climate friendly energy production.

Alok Sharma, the UK COP26 president, said there was “a monumental challenge ahead of us” to achieve success in the summit before it is due to end on Friday.

But on Friday the UN chief Antonio Guterres said COP26 would probably not achieve its aims and the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C is on “life support”.

Despite the promises made at COP26 so far, the planet is still heading for 2.4C of warming above pre-industrial levels, according to a report by Climate Action Tracker.

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