THE COP26 climate talks have agreed to get countries to strengthen their emissions-cutting targets for 2030 by the end of next year in a bid to limit dangerous warming.

Ministers and negotiators at the UN summit in Glasgow have also sent a signal on the shift away from the world’s dirtiest fuel, with a deal calling for efforts to escalate the “phase down” of unabated coal, as well as the phasing out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.

The Glasgow Pact was watered down at the last minute – following a push by India and China – from escalating the “phase out” of unabated coal, to “phase down”, prompting angry responses from European and vulnerable countries.

But it is the first explicit mentions of fossil fuels in a UN climate agreement.

The deal aims to keep limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels “alive” or within reach, in the face of a huge gap between the action countries are taking and what is needed to meet the goal.

In the wake of the “Glasgow Pact” being gavelled through – more than 24 hours after the official finishing time of the conference, there were warnings that the 1.5C goal was “on life support”.

UN secretary general Antonio Guterres told young people, indigenous communities and women leaders – “all those leading the climate action army” – that he knew many of them were disappointed.

Guterres said the approved texts from COP26 were a compromise that took important steps, but the “collective political will was not enough to overcome some deep contradictions”.

He said: “Success or failure is not an act of nature. It’s in our hands. The path of progress is not always a straight line. Sometimes there are detours. Sometimes there are ditches.”

And he said: “We won’t reach our destination in one day or one conference. But I know we can get there. We are in the fight of our lives.”

He urged: “Never give up. Never retreat. Keep pushing forward. I will be with you all the way."

Many island states, including the representative for Fiji, criticised the last-minute proposed change to call on parties to “phase-down” rather than “phase-out” coal.

The National:

Frans Timmermans (above), the EU Commission's first vice-president, said that despite his disappointment over the language on coal, he still believed the outcome of Glasgow would help the world shift away from the fossil fuel.

He said: “[The EU] is going to work bloody hard on getting rid out of of coal, and I believe this conclusion will help us work in that direction.

“The European Union will be strongly committed to that not just within the European Union, but also with our partners worldwide.

“And for us the model we have found together with the United Kingdom, United States, Germany and France on South Africa should be the template of how we help other coal producing countries to rid themselves of this fossil.”

Congratulating Alok Sharma (below), Timmermans described the Glasgow Pact as an “historic, historic decision under your leadership”.

The National: Cop President Alok Sharma during the opening ceremony for the Cop26 summit at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow. Monday November 1, 2021. Jeff J Mitchell/PA Wire.

Sharma said the decisions in the agreement promote “inclusive climate action”.

He continued: “[The decisions] promote inclusive climate action, recognising the important role played by civil society, indigenous peoples, local communities, youth and other stakeholders.

“They compliment the impressive commitments and actions of all those who joined us in Glasgow, driving progress on coal, cars, cash and trees.

“We met here under extraordinary circumstances and the negotiations have been far from easy. I can tell you that definitely.“

He added: “But I have been struck by the determination that you have all shown to get our work done to forge consensus on an unprecedented agenda and ultimately agree something meaningful for our people and our planet.

“Each and every one of you and the nations you represent has stepped up here in Glasgow, agreeing to do what it takes to keep 1.5 alive. For that I am infinitely grateful.”

The National: Patricia Espinosa speaks at the Cop26 opening ceremony

Head of UN climate change Patricia Espinosa (above) told the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow: “We will be leaving Glasgow with clarity on the work we need to undertake to reach the 1.5C goal.”

She said progress had been made in many areas, adding: “At Cop26, parties built a bridge between good intentions and measurable actions to lower emissions, increase resilience and provide much-needed finance.

“A bridge leading to the historic transformation we must make to achieve rapid reductions this decade and ultimately towards the 1.5C goal.

“A bridge between the admirable promises made six years ago in Paris to the concrete measures science calls for and societies around the world demand.”