Organisers of COP26 say the deal struck at the summit keeps hopes of a 1.5 degree limit on temperature rises alive, but commentators warn much more ambitious climate pledges by world leaders are now urgently needed.
Two weeks of intense talks ended with The Glasgow Climate Pact, the first ever deal to explicitly agree to reduce coal use although a last-minute change lobbied for by India and China watered down the wording from “phase out” to “phase down”.
The deal also presses for more urgent emission cuts and promises more money for developing countries to help them adapt to climate impacts, but critics say it fell far short of what was needed.
COP26 President Alok Sharma said the deal has kept 1.5 degrees alive but “its pulse is weak and it will only survive if we keep our promises and translate commitments into rapid action”.
Prime minister Boris Johnson said the UK will now work “tirelessly” with other countries to achieve a breakthrough over the next 12 months while it still holds the COP presidency
"We will push for more ambitious goals, stronger plans and better implementation so we further narrow that gap to 1.5 degrees.”
RenewableUK’s CEO Dan McGrail said there still a “mountain to climb” to limit global warming to 1.5C but said there had been significant progress on commitments to cut emissions.
“The agreement specifically calls for a rapid scaling up of clean power generation and, for the first time, it urges countries to act faster on phasing down coal and fossil fuel subsidies – commitments which were long overdue,” he said.
Lord Nicholas Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change, said the summit had been a major step along the way to tackling climate change, but added it “still left us far short of the target of limiting warming to 1.5C”.
“That it is why it is so important that countries agree to put forward by the end of next year more ambitious pledges for emissions cuts by 2030.”