Countries reached a deal aimed at staving off dangerous climate change at the COP26 summit in Glasgow.
The Glasgow Climate Pact is the first ever climate deal to explicitly plan to reduce coal, the worst fossil fuel for greenhouse gases.
The pact also presses for more urgent emission cuts and promises more money for developing countries – to help them adapt to climate impacts.
However, the pledges don’t go far enough to limit temperature rise to 1.5C.
A commitment to phase out coal that was included in earlier negotiation drafts led to a dramatic finish after India led opposition to it.
India’s climate minister Bhupender Yadav asked how developing countries could promise to phase out coal and fossil fuel subsidies when they “have still to deal with their development agendas and poverty eradication”.
In the end, countries agreed to “phase down” rather than “phase out” coal, amid expressions of disappointment by some. COP26 President Alok Sharma said he was “deeply sorry” for how events had unfolded.
Alok Sharma fought back tears as he told delegates that it was vital to protect the agreement as a whole.
As part of the agreement, countries will meet next year to pledge further major carbon cuts with the aim of reaching the 1.5C goal. Current pledges, if fulfilled, will only limit global warming to about 2.4C.
If global temperatures rise by more than 1.5C, scientists say the Earth is likely to experience severe effects such as millions more people being exposed to extreme heat.
Despite the weakening of language around coal, some observers will still see the deal as a victory, underlining that it is the first time coal is explicitly mentioned in UN documents of this type.
Coal is responsible for about 40% of annual CO2 emissions, making it central in efforts to keep within the 1.5C target. To meet this goal, agreed in Paris in 2015, global emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030 and to nearly zero by mid-century.
Finance was a contentious issue during the conference. A pledge by developed nations to provide $100 billion per year to emerging economies, made in 2009, was supposed to have been delivered by 2020. However, the date was missed.
It was designed to help developing nations adapt to climate effects and make the transition to clean energy. In an effort to mollify delegates, Alok Sharma said around $500 billion would be mobilized by 2025.
Main achievements of the Glasgow Climate Pact:
Re-visiting emissions-cutting plans next year to try to keep 1.5C target reachable
The first ever inclusion of a commitment to limit coal use
World leaders have agreed a deal attempting to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than 2C after two weeks of negotiations at the climate change summit in Paris.
The global pact is the first to commit all countries to cut carbon emissions.
The agreement is partly legally binding and partly voluntary.
Earlier, key blocs, including the G77 group of developing countries, and nations such as China and India said they supported the proposals.
President of the UN climate conference of parties (COP) and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said: “I now invite the COP to adopt the decision entitled Paris Agreement outlined in the document.
“Looking out to the room I see that the reaction is positive, I see no objections. The Paris agreement is adopted.”
As Laurent Fabius struck the gavel to signal the adoption of the deal, delegates rose to their feet cheering and applauding.
Nearly 200 countries have been attempting to strike the first climate deal to commit all countries to cut emissions, which would come into being in 2020.
President Barack Obama was among the first world leaders to tweet his congratulations, describing the deal as “huge”.
The chairman of the group representing some of the world’s poorest countries called the deal historic, adding: “We are living in unprecedented times, which call for unprecedented measures.
“It is the best outcome we could have hoped for, not just for the Least Developed Countries, but for all citizens of the world.”
Paris Agreement key measures:
To peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and achieve a balance between sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century
To keep global temperature increase “well below” 2C (3.6F) and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5C
To review progress every five years
$100 billion a year in climate finance for developing countries by 2020, with a commitment to further finance in the future.
Ahead of the deal being struck, delegates were in a buoyant mood as they gathered in the hall waiting for the plenary session to resume.
Laurent Fabius was applauded as he entered the hall ahead of the announcement.
Earlier, French President Francois Hollande called the proposals unprecedented, while UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on negotiators to “finish the job”.
However, the celebratory mood has not been shared among all observers.
Nick Dearden, director of campaign group Global Justice Now, said: “It’s outrageous that the deal that’s on the table is being spun as a success when it undermines the rights of the world’s most vulnerable communities and has almost nothing binding to ensure a safe and livable climate for future generations.”
Some aspects of the agreement will be legally binding, such as submitting an emissions reduction target and the regular review of that goal.
However, the targets set by nations will not be binding under the deal struck in the French capital.
Observers say the attempt to impose emissions targets on countries was one of the main reasons why the Copenhagen talks in 2009 failed.
In 2009, nations including China, India and South Africa were unwilling to sign up to a condition that they felt could hamper economic growth and development.
The latest negotiations managed to avoid such an impasse by developing a system of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).
In these, which form the basis of the Paris agreement goal of keeping global temperature rise “well below” 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels, nations outline their plans on cutting their post-2020 emissions.
An assessment published during the two-week talks suggested that the emission reductions currently outlined in the INDCs submitted by countries would only limit global temperature rise by 2.7C.
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