A tearful Alok Sharma, President of COP26, apologised to the world after an “imperfect” agreement was struck in Glasgow on Saturday.
In a day of high drama, China and India demanded at the last minute that a commitment to “phase out” coal - the most polluting of all fossil fuels - be downgraded to “phase down”.
Amid anger from countries who support taking stronger measures to reduce emissions, an emotional Mr Sharma told the conference:
“I apologise for the way this process has unfolded. I am deeply sorry.”
Later in a press conference, Mr Sharma said that the new Glasgow Climate Pact, while not everything some people hoped for, meant the aim of limiting global warming to 1.5C was still dimly possible:
“I would say, however, that this is a fragile win. We have kept 1.5 alive.
"That was our overarching objective when we set off on this journey two years ago, taking on the role of the COP presidency-designate.
“But I would still say that the pulse of 1.5 is weak.”
I am incredibly grateful to everyone who has helped get us here today in Glasgow
But this is a fragile win
We have to continue to work together to kept 1.5 alive
Read my full statement here on the outcomes of #COP26: https://t.co/SHP22t3bDc pic.twitter.com/8xSCZA7I10
— Alok Sharma (@AlokSharma_RDG) November 13, 2021
Glasgow Climate Pact
The Glasgow Climate Pact saw nations pledge to cut carbon emissions and end “inefficient” subsidies of fossil fuels.
However, it failed to reach the target of providing $100bn annually in funding to help the developing world decarbonise and further pledges will be needed for humanity to cap a global rise in temperature at 1.5C.
US climate envoy John Kerry said that no one gets everything they want in negotiations and that, “You can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
However, environmentalists panned the pact as falling well short of ‘good’. Greta Thunberg summarised the talks once again as “Blah, blah, blah.” While Dr Marguerite Nyhan, a senior lecturer in future sustainability at University College Cork, told Newstalk:
“I think that this issue around climate justice and the equitable climate action really could not be emphasised enough.
"And the really important part of the talks, on financing of climate action as well, that hasn’t been realised at COP this time unfortunately.”
Mary Robinson lambasted the talks as “nowhere near enough to avoid climate disaster” and a “shameful dereliction of duty” from negotiators.
Climate Minister Eamon Ryan was less downbeat; he admitted that the compromise on coal was “deeply disappointing” but added:
“The substance of the agreement is good and it will give real momentum at home.”
Fossil fuel advocates
However, some politicians from high-polluting countries celebrated the agreement as positive.
Senator Matthew Canavan, from the mine-rich state of Queensland in Australia, described the pact as a “huge win” for the fossil fuel industry and a "green light for more coal production".
Well, Glasgow ended up being a big nothingburger
— Matthew Canavan (@mattjcan) November 13, 2021
While India’s Environment Minister, Bhupender Yadav, said the agreement recognised that many poorer countries need fossil fuels to catch up with the west:
“Developing countries have a right to their fair share of the global carbon budget and are entitled to the responsible use of fossil fuels,” Mr Yadav said.
Main image: A protestor in Glasgow demands world leaders take action. Picture by: PA.