Climate summit chief sets up fight over Paris Agreement’s goal

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PARIS – The UK minister, who currently has custody of the climate deal, returns to the place where the Paris Agreement was born and on Tuesday fought a battle over its headline target, which will be held during next month’s COP26 climate talks will.

In his last major speech before the Glasgow meeting, Alok Sharma made it clear that he would urge all countries in Scotland to reduce their emissions enough this decade to give the world a chance of warming to 1.5 degrees to stop. However, some major emitters and even the French politician who negotiated the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement say the original deal is primarily aimed at a 2-degree target.

There is a deep disagreement about what was agreed in Paris six years ago. The text of the hand out Says governments promise to “keep the global mean temperature rise well below 2 ° C above pre-industrial levels and” [pursue] Efforts to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels. “

Sharma, which is supported by the EU as well as endangered countries, has named the main goal of COP26 to “keep 1.5 alive”. But many countries – including the major emitters China, India, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Australia – have ignored a call for new climate plans this year. Without it, Sharma warned, “the 1.5-degree limit will be out of reach.”

For endangered countries, “1.5 to stay alive” is not an empty slogan. It’s a question of survival, ”he said. Scientists say the lower mark will be exceeded if global greenhouse gas emissions are not radically cut in this decade. Current government commitments would bring the world to a warming of around 2.7 degrees by the end of the century.

Sharma said world leaders “must keep the promises made here in Paris six years ago … success or failure of COP26 is in their hands. And so is the fate of the Paris Agreement. ”

Definition dispute

China has said the attempt to center the Paris Agreement on 1.5 degrees is an attempt to “rewrite” the agreement. But that’s not how Sharma sees it.

Immediately after his speech, he told POLITICO that the pressure on 1.5 degrees was the letter of the deal and said: “The Paris Agreement is really quite clear.”

Unless it’s not.

Laurent Fabius, the former French Prime Minister who was President of the 2015 conference that launched the Paris Deal, was in the audience at Sharma’s speech. As he left the building, he told POLITICO that the 1.5 degree target was a target and that the Paris Agreement would survive if not achieved.

“The Paris Agreement said this very explicitly: 2 [degrees] and if possible 1.5, ”he said. Since that moment, he added, scientists had made it clear that 1.5 “was the optimum, OK. In fact, it is now a matter of acting and delivering and that the states remain true to their statements. “

The different interpretations of what countries agreed to in Paris will determine the talks in Glasgow. The poorest and most vulnerable countries want major polluters to commit to 1.5 degrees. Italy will urge the leaders of the G20’s largest economies to do the same when they meet in Rome on the last weekend of October, the day before COP26 begins.

Sharma told POLITICO that the climate talks must be able to explain with “credibility” how to get countries to do more. That means they are making some sort of agreement that obliges them to increase their goals for this decade in the years to come. Sharma has asked ministers from Denmark and Grenada to take the lead in this effort.

It forms a violent finale for the COP26. While Sharma claimed to work as a “neutral broker” in his speech, his support for the 1.5 target and pressure to get countries to publicly comment on their understanding of the Paris Agreement may bring him into conflict with some of the world’s biggest polluters.

Fabius and Laurence Tubiana, the former diplomat who was France’s leading negotiator in Paris, warned Sharma at breakfast Tuesday not to turn his COP26 presidency into a fight.

“Her advice was to keep building trust and taking people with you. And … finally, remember that this is a consensus-based system. And so it is very important that people continue to have confidence in the presidency, ”Sharma said.

This article is part of POLITICS‘s Premium Policy Service: Pro Energy and Climate. From climate change, emission targets, alternative fuels and more, our specialist journalists will keep you up to date on the topics of the energy and climate policy agenda. E-mail [email protected] for a free trial.

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