COP26: Frans Timmermans calls on leaders to not 'kill moment'

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COP26 has been extended due to a deadlock between countries over fossil fuel emission targets, with the US refusing to budge to help poorer countries fight climate change. President Joe Biden has attempted to sell himself as something of a climate change champion off the back of former President Donald Trump, who famously called climate change a “hoax”. But his actions at COP26 have shown the limited scope in which the US is willing to help poorer countries meet international climate goals.

Donald Trump vs Joe Biden – key differences

One of Mr Trump’s most controversial moves in his four-year term was removing the USA from the Paris Climate Agreement, in which 195 signatories set voluntary limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

Under Mr Biden, the USA rejoined the agreement in February 2021 and the current administration has sought to distance itself from Mr Trump’s denial of climate change.

The Biden administration reversed Mr Trump’s decision to continue with the Keystone XL pipeline – something environmental activists and Native Americans have been fighting for decades – but is continuing to run the similarly controversial Dakota Access pipeline.

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Mr Biden also favours ending subsidies for fossil fuel producers, whereas Mr Trump supported unobstructed growth of the industry.

The current President has not maintained a position on fracking – a drilling technology used to extract oil and water from deep underground – but has committed to banning new offshore drilling deals.

Mr Biden has also previously said the prevalence of cheap renewable energy has eliminated the need for new coal plants, whereas Mr Trump reduced the regulations put in place by the Obama administration that limit coal production.

The Biden administration has made it clear it factors climate change into policy decisions, including strategies to achieve 100 percent clean electricity by 2035 and net-zero emissions by 2050 – the date which is now seen as the international benchmark for keeping global warming under 1.5C.

He has also factored this into the life of everyday Americans, with plans to bring about rapid new innovations and using the renewable energy market as a major job creator, a continuation of the Obama administration the current president served in – something Mr Trump did his best to undo.

Mr Biden has also pledged to bring in strict fuel-efficiency standards and to attempt to make purchases of all new cars and light trucks electric.

He has also voiced his support for phasing out single-use plastic.

The President’s climate plan claims the US will invest $400 billion over 10 years in clean energy and climate research and use tax policy and other mechanisms to incentivise rapid deployment of these innovations.

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While Mr Biden’s intentions at home might be honourable, the current deadlock between huge powers like the US and the EU and developing countries over fossil fuel emissions gives clarity to the actual aims of world’s superpowers when it comes to halting the deadly effects of global warming.

A conclusion was meant to be drawn on Friday night – but developing countries are trying their best to get the US and the EU to listen regarding the damage that has already been caused – and how much money should go toward repairing it.

US climate envoy John Kerry is staying firm on key US positions around money for developing countries, and he has been keen to defend how much cash the US will give to help worse off countries adapt to climate change.

Throughout the conference poorer countries have argued that developed nations have asked them to take on too high of a burden to tackle climate change by asking them to phase out fossil fuels too quickly without help.

The lead Africa negotiator Tanguy Gahouma-Bekale said developing countries could not be expected to rid themselves of fossil fuels without the help of developed countries aiding them to move to cleaner alternatives.

He said: “We are far from the 1.5C, and that is because many developed countries did not respect their own commitments.”

Tracy Carty, the head of Oxfam’s Cop26 delegation said: “Here in Glasgow, the world’s poorest countries are in danger of being lost from view, but the next few hours can and must change the course we are on. What’s on the table is still not good enough.

“We need the strongest possible outcome to ensure governments come back next year with strengthened emission reduction targets that will keep 1.5 degrees alive. And decisive progress on finance to help countries adapt and for the loss and damage endured.

“It is of deep concern that developing countries’ proposal for a loss and damage finance facility has not been included in this new draft.”

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