COP26 climate conference approves revised deal

"Hearing no objections it is so decided."

After two weeks of tortuous negotiations, a deal in Glasgow that many at the talks are calling imperfect progress.

The U.N. climate summit in Scotland ended with a global agreement that aimed at least to keep alive hopes of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius, and so maintain some chance of saving the world from catastrophic climate change.

But a last-minute objection from India, whose energy needs are hugely dependent on the coal it has in abundance - ended up watering down the first-of-its-kind call for a reduction in fossil fuels.

The clause was hurriedly amended to accelerating "efforts to phase down" instead of "phase out unabated coal power...."

The change was met with dismay by the rich economies of the European Union and Switzerland as well as the Marshall Islands, one of the small Pacific island states whose existence is under threat from rising sea levels.

But all said they would let it stand for the sake of an overall agreement.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) MARSHALL ISLANDS CLIMATE ENVOY, TINA STEGE, SAYING:

"We accept this change with the greatest reluctance but only - and I really want to stress only - because there are critical elements of this package that people in my country need as a lifeline for their future."

Alok Sharma, the conference chairman, apologized after he heard vulnerable nations express their anger over the last-minute changes.

"I also understand the deep disappointment. But I think as you have noted, it's also vital that we protect this package."

The agreement in effect acknowledged that commitments made so far to cut emissions of planet-heating greenhouse gases are nowhere near enough, and asked nations to set tougher climate pledges next year, rather than every five years, as they are currently required to do.

Scientists say that to go beyond a rise of 1.5C would unleash extreme sea level rise and catastrophes including crippling droughts, monstrous storms and wildfires far worse than those the world is already suffering.

"I expect better from leaders around the world."

Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace, expressed some disappointment in the result, but saw the glass as half-full.

"I think no matter what the word change was at the end, it's very clear that coal is on its way out around the world."

The deal gave the poorest nations more promises, but no guarantees, that they would finally get more of the financial help they have long been told they will get.

Activists at the summit, including Greta Thunberg, had urged world leaders to do more to avert the catastrophic effects of climate change, and repeatedly labeled the talks a failure.

On Saturday she tweeted: "The #COP26 is over. Here’s a brief summary: Blah, blah, blah. But the real work continues outside these halls. And we will never give up, ever."

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