COP26 reaches deal! Key differences to Paris – but will it change anything?

COP26: Frans Timmermans calls on leaders to not 'kill moment'

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The historic Glasgow Climate Pact has now been agreed – but not without deep resentment from a number of countries, particularly those who are likely to feel the deepest effects of deathly climate change. The last hours of the conference saw countries argue over the wording of pledges to reduce coal emissions, leaving some countries outraged by the concession being made to get a deal over the line.

COP26 president Alok Sharma said as the deal was struck: “I understand the deep disappointment. It’s also vital we protect this package.”

He also admitted the text is “imperfect” but said the conference had achieved a deal that will keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C “alive”.

It seems like we’ve been here before – and we certainly have, with the landmark Paris Climate Agreement taking place not long ago in 2015.

Only six years later, world leaders have met again to discuss how to tackle the single most important issue of our time – to stop the world from heating by more than 1.5C and put an end to the disastrous effects of climate change.

What is the difference between Paris and COP26?

The Paris Agreement united almost all the countries in the world for the first time ever in a single agreement on cutting the greenhouse gas emissions which are causing global warming.

The first deal of its kind ordered countries to “pursue efforts” to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C, and to reach net-zero emissions between 2050 and 2100.

Key discussions in Glasgow were held about whether countries had actually acted on the pledges made during Paris.

When the Paris deal was signed, governments around the world admitted the targets set would not limit global warming to 1.5C.

Because of this, they agreed to update them by 2020 – the original date for COP26, which was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic

All countries should have submitted new targets for reducing emissions ahead of Glasgow, but still many have failed to produce improved commitments and some major economies still have no net zero target in place.

The Glasgow Climate Pact goes further than the Paris Agreement in a number of ways – but just like the Paris agreement, it all depends on countries sticking to their promises.

The key achievements in the agreement are: the inclusion of the commitment to “phase down” coal, re-visiting emissions-cutting plans on a more regular basis, and increased financial help for developing countries – but more will become clear when the full agreement is published.

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Will COP26 change anything?

The last minute wrangling to agree a deal all 197 countries could get behind has left multiple countries dissatisfied with the outcome of the conference.

The wording of the agreement’s section on coal emissions was changed last minute to “phase down” rather than “phase out” – a rewording that has disappointed and angered many countries who still agreed to sign the pact.

EU countries and several island nations have been the biggest critics so far of this change – with southern island nations expected to be among the worst affected by disasters such as major weather events and rising sea levels.

Greenpeach have slammed the deal, saying “it’s meek, it’s weak, and the 1.5C goal is only just alive”.

Executive Director Jennifer Morgan told Express.co.uk: “Glasgow was meant to deliver on firmly closing the gap to 1.5C and that didn’t happen.

“The offsets scam got a boost in Glasgow with the creation of new loopholes that are too big to tolerate, endangering nature, Indigenous Peoples and the 1.5C goal itself.

“The UN Secretary General announced that a group of experts will bring vital scrutiny to offset markets, but much work still needs to be done to stop the greenwashing, cheating and loopholes giving big emitters and corporations a pass.”

Express.co.uk will update this article as more reaction to the deal comes in.

But what do you think? Have your say in the comments below.

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