Latest COP26 news as: 200 countries reach agreement after 15 days of talks; COP president “deeply sorry” as India’s request leads to watered down language on coal.
Sky correspondent Mark Stone reports from the Caribbean archipelago – often considered a paradise – where the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian shows how difficult it can be for smaller countries to recover after a severe storm, of the type scientists say will be increasingly common as the world warms.
India’s capital New Delhi has said it will have to shut schools and construction sites due to dangerous air pollution, in part caused by burning coal.
The city may also be forced to implement a two-day lockdown to protect people, as some residents of New Delhi are forced to wear masks at home.
Director of the Red Cross and Red Crescent’s climate centre Maarten van Aalst said the conference showed steps had been made since the Paris agreement in 2015, but he is worried the problem will get out of hand faster than the world’s ability to contain it.
He told Sky News: “It is disappointing that we don’t have more concrete measures to reach that 1.5. Everything that’s there now is no good enough to get us there. We’ll need another step up. Instead what we got in that final plenary was a small step down. What it signals… is the right intention, but not all the actions to get there.”
Australian senator Matthew Canavan is celebrating today after the COP26 agreement was a “green light for more coal production”.
The representative for Queensland claimed that the summit was a “huge win for coal” after India and China forced the watering down of the agreement to remove the words “phase-out” and replace them with “phase-down” the use of coal.
Mr Canavan says it was “good news for the world because… the most important thing for the world to do… is to bring more and more people out of poverty”.
He went on to explain: “Coal and cheap energy helps do that. There are still a billion people… without access to electricity, hundreds of millions of them in India, and they deserve the same things that we take for granted. Denying poor people access to cheaper… energy is a completely inhumane policy approach and I’m glad it was defeated.”
He went on to claim that Australian coal is the best in the world and he was looking forward to his nation selling more of it.
In response to the fact that Australian’s neighbours like Tuvalu are suffering the impact of climate change – caused by CO2 from burning coal as well as other greenhouse gases – he said: “In terms of Tuvalu… their island’s actually increasing in land area. It’s just not true to say that their islands are at imminent risk from the climate right now.”
Analysis by Katerina Vittozzi, Sky correspondent -based in India
India has fought hard, and successfully, for a change on the fossils fuel text.
Should we be surprised? No.
Look beyond the COP conference back-slapping, after India made its first net-zero pledge, and this really has always been India’s stance.
At COP, at the preceding G20 summit in Rome, and beyond: India’s been consistent that a change in coal use would come on its own terms and on its own timetable.
India is the world’s third-largest polluter but its per capita emissions are low and historical emissions small, compared to developed nations who have seen their economies transformed by the use of fossil fuels.
India wants, to put it simply, a fair slice of the carbon pie. It argues that all developing nations should be given the same.
On the global stage, that means calls for climate equity and climate finance.
At home, that means India will keep burning things.
According to the director of Global Justice Now, COP26 had been set up failure from the very start.
Reacting to the final agreement, Nick Dearden, said: “This hollowed-out agreement shows that, for all the lip service they paid, world leaders and big business have not listened.
“From the very start, the UK presidency set this summit up for failure. A sanitised COP, captured by corporate interests and inaccessible to the global south, was never going to adequately or equitably respond to the climate crisis.
“This agreement would have been an important document 20 years ago, but we are well past this stage now.
“We don’t have time for baby steps towards climate action. 1.5 degrees may not yet be dead, but it is on life support.
“The next COP must be a reckoning for the fossil fuel industry and the rich countries that caused the climate crisis. Anything less will consign us to devastation.”
You can watch a report on the COP26 deal by Sky’s science and technology editor, Tom Clarke, below.
The international executive director of the charity, Oxfam, has reacted to the COP26 deal, calling it a “derisory outcome”.
Gabriela Butcher said: “Clearly some world leaders think they aren’t living on the same planet as the rest of us.
“It seems no amount of fires, rising sea levels or droughts will bring them to their senses to stop increasing emissions at the expense of humanity.”
She added that the request strengthen 2030 reduction targets by next year is “an important step”.
But she said: “Developing countries, representing over 6 billion people, put forward a loss and damage finance facility to build back in the aftermath of extreme weather events linked to climate change.
“Not only did rich countries block this, all they would agree to is limited funding for technical assistance and a ‘dialogue’.
“This derisory outcome is tone-deaf to the suffering of millions of people both now and in the future.”
Analysis by Siobhan Robbins, South East Asia correspondent
In many ways, the diluted promise to “phase down” unabated coal power will be welcomed by Australia’s coal communities.
There is no date in which action is required, no pressure to immediately shut mines.
In the first week of COP26, Australia deliberately avoided adding its name to a list of more than 40 countries pledging to phase out coal power in decades.
Reacting to the final agreement, miner Stuart Bonds told me he didn’t think it would mean any real changes to the industry.
“It’s good. It’s a bit softer language so that it’s not forcing them to commit to it if they cannot possibly do it,” he said.
“You know, it’s a fine line between balancing your economy and it’s better than walking away and having no agreement… but it will be business as usual and we’ll still be taking coal out of the ground in 30 years, I can guarantee you.”
Australia is the world’s second-biggest exporter of thermal coal, the type used in power stations.
Labelled by climate campaigners as an environmental laggard, Australia hasn’t got off scot-free. There’s now enormous pressure on it to step up its 2030 emissions target.
“The Glasgow Climate Pact has made it very clear that our government must come back to the table next year with a stronger 2030 target. It’s time to slash carbon pollution this decade, as if our futures depended on it – because they do,” said Dr Simon Bradshaw, head of research at the Climate Council.
Australia hasn’t come away from the conference with glowing climate credentials but it’s avoid being labelled the villain. India has taken that crown.
If you are unsure about what has come out of the COP26 climate summit, here is a list of the major outcomes: