Boris Johnson believes climate deal still possible at Cop26

UK prime minister may return to Glasgow to help bring a deal across the line

Members of climate action protest group Scientist Rebellion hold signs during a demonstration in Glasgow on the sidelines of the Cop26 summit. AFP
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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson believes a major climate deal is still possible at Cop26 but will require an immense effort to be finalised, his spokesman has told The National.

With five days of negotiations left, Mr Johnson is hoping an agreement will tie the majority of countries into substantially cutting carbon emissions.

But the second week of the Glasgow summit will require real impetus to resolve outstanding issues, including Article 6 of the Paris Agreement to reduce individual emissions through countries collaborating with one another on carbon offsets.

Transparency and clear, honest data on each country’s emissions cuts as well as the consideration of a tax of at least $75 per tonne of carbon emissions are also key areas.

Asked whether substantial progress was being made in Glasgow, the prime minister’s spokesman told The National there was still a “great deal of challenging negotiations taking place this week” and “much more work to be done” to reach an agreement on the outstanding issues.

“Ministers and negotiators are working to build consensus to reach a collective agreement on the negotiated text by the end week,” he said.

“That's where the focus moves to this week: they need to negotiate on things like the outstanding issues from the Paris Agreement on tracking transparency, funding, as well as building consensus.”

When asked if the government was likely to reach a comprehensive agreement by the end of the week, he said it was “certainly our aim but we're not taking anything for granted”.

“It's an extremely difficult challenge that faces both the UK and indeed the 190 countries taking part,” he added.

“There has been significant progress made last week with some ambitious commitments both jointly and individually by countries, which has helped us move forward. But there’s still progress to be made.”

It is understood that at some point later this week, Mr Johnson will either travel to Scotland to potentially help bring any deal over the line or will make a statement on negotiations, successful or otherwise.

It is also hoped that former president Barack Obama’s presence might help inject some urgency into negotiations after he told the conference today that the world is “nowhere near” where it needs to be and criticised China and Russia for their “lack of urgency” on climate.

The Cop26 president’s summary of what should be included in an agreement has also been published with the “urgency of action to keep 1.5 alive” foremost in what is a “critical decade to deliver Paris goals on mitigation, adaptation and finance”.

The summary also looked to have countries that have not yet submitted National Determined Contributions (NDCs) — individual nations' efforts to reduce emissions — to do so by 2022.

The countries will also regularly revisit their 2030 NDCs “to align with temperature goals”, with an annual high-level round-table “pre-2030 ambitions” beginning from Cop27 next year.

However, the summary noted the “deep concern” that the $100 billion goal meant to help developing countries decarbonise through the creation of renewable energy technology had not yet been met.

It concluded that all nations had to “acknowledge the ongoing and increasing reality of loss and damage with rising temperatures” as well as comprehend the “urgency of action”.

Whether that urgency might impel countries such as China, Russia and Brazil to lend their signatures to a deal will become clear by Friday.

Updated: November 08, 2021, 3:58 PM