COP26: Finance, fossil fuels and speeding up action - the key issues remaining

ITV News Correspondent Rachel Younger reports on the mounting concerns that current commitments made at COP26 are too weak to prevent disastrous levels of global heating

Some of what is known as the likeminded group of developing countries (including China, India and Saudi Arabia among others) are said to be trying to remove this bit of text that is deemed absolutely critical to the success of this conference:

"Urges parties to revisit and strengthen the 2030 targets in their nationally determined contributions, as necessary to align with the Paris Agreement temperature goal by the end of 2022".

That paragraph is critical because it speeds up the timetable - which is needed because scientists think there is no hope of staying below 1.5 degrees if things don’t ramp up now and up to 2030.

The COP26 climate conference - what you need to know

What is COP26? When and where will it be?

Each year, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meets at what is called the Conference of the Parties (abbreviated as COP) to discuss the world's progress on climate change and how to tackle it.

COP26 is the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties summit which will be held in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November.

Who is going?

Leaders of the 197 countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – a treaty that came into force in 1994 - are invited to the summit.

These are some of the world leaders that will be attending COP26:

  • US President Joe Biden, climate envoy John Kerry, climate adviser and former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, and 10 other US cabinet officials.

  • Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison. In the days leading up to COP26, Mr Morrison committed Australia to a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Prince Charles, Prince William, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge are also attending. The Queen has withdrawn from visiting after being advised by her doctors to rest - she will address the conference virtually instead.

China's President Xi Jinping, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, and President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil are among the leaders that have decided not to travel to Glasgow.

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What is it hoping to achieve?

1. Achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels - Countries are being encouraged to set ambitious 2030 emissions targets. They are also encouraged to accelerate the phase-out of coal, clamp down on deforestation, speed up the switch to electric vehicles and encourage investment in renewables.

2. Protect natural habitats and communities from climate change disasters

3. Finances for a greener future - In 2009, developed countries were asked to keep to their promises to contribute at least $100 billion (£72.5 billion) per year by 2020 to protect the planet. In 2015, it was agreed that the goal would be extended to 2025.

However, new analysis shows the goal is unlikely to have been met last year and is on track to fall short in 2021 and 2022.

4. Getting all countries and organisations to work together to tackle the climate crisis

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The hope to water down this language was posed by Bolivia on behalf of the group so one question is how much other key countries within the alliance are pressing for the same. 

And there's another issue with fossil fuels.

A first draft of the cover decision includes a commitment to phase out subsidies for fossil fuels, the first time this has ever appeared in a document drawn up at one of these conferences but there are worries Saudi Arabia and perhaps Australia want the reference out.

What are the chances of reaching key global warming pledges at COP26 by the end of this week? Robert Peston reports

But perhaps most tense is the question of finance in particular for poorer countries to adapt and cope with loss and damage caused by climate change.

Here there are worries the IS is the block. 

On the way into last minute ministerial negotiations on finance the ministers for Kenya and Ecuador argued this was a matter of justice and without it the talks could be in serious damage. 

Delegates walk past the neon light installation 'Hurry Up Please It's Time' by artist Cornelia Parker during the Cop26 summit in Glasgow. Credit: PA

There is a feeling that the US and China joint declaration on Wednesday was basically a cover that didn’t really go beyond the Paris agreement wording - but allowed both of the countries to then, behind the scenes. pull back from hoped for delivery.

There is also a sense that without enough money to support poorer nations they will scupper richer countries hopes for action on cutting emissions. 

The UK needs these talks to succeed if Cop26 is to be a success.