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COP26 update: final days of negotiations

With just two more days left at COP26, negotiators are facing pressure to agree and finalise a range of outstanding matters that have been the subject of various meetings and negotiations over the last two weeks. As usually happens during the second week of a COP, negotiating rooms are no longer open to observers, with most of the action going on behind closed doors, so we will be waiting eagerly to find out if eleventh hour compromises can be reached on the areas of current disagreement or impasse. The pressure is certainly on the parties to do just that – the success of the COP will be measured by what happens over the next day.

This week has seen a number of new draft texts released, on issues such as loss and damage, transparency, and climate finance. General consensus is that, while the drafts published so far provide a basis for moving forward, they need to be strengthened in key areas, especially in relation to climate finance. Aubrey Webson, the chair of the Alliance of Small Island States, which represents 37 of the most at-risk countries, states “We won’t get the ambition on emissions we need for 1.5 °C if we don’t scale up the provision of finance, and this includes the long overdue recognition of a separate and additional component for loss and damage.” He added that the language included in the drafts such as “urging” and “encouraging” is too weak, and not the decisive language needed to increase climate finance and help poor countries cut their carbon emissions. Climate finance is likely to continue to be a major topic of negotiation over the next few days, with COP26 President Alok Sharma underlining the need to finalise a “number of issues” outstanding on funding for poor nations, before we are “literally out of time”.

Alongside the on-going negotiations, today’s COP events have been focused on ‘Cities, Regions and the Built Environment’ and are set to bring national, regional and city level leaders, and the private sector, together to advance climate action in communities and regions over the next decade. To achieve this, there is a clear need for national and subnational governments to collaborate with the private sector in meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. A number of world leaders today echoed the importance of doing so, with the Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda, Gaston Browne, highlighting that especially for small island states, “1.5 °C is important to stay alive”.

"We have limited time left in the COP to get this right and send a clear message to our children, and the most vulnerable communities, that we hear you and we are taking this crisis seriously."

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cop26, esg

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