AN UPDATED draft deal that could be agreed at COP26 appears to have "critically weakened” a push to phase out the burning of fossil fuels - amid calls for more work to strengthen pledges as talks enter the final phase.

Greenpeace said that despite wording being watered down on ending fossil fuels, “it’s still there and needs to be strengthened again before the summit closes”.

The first draft of the “cover decision” for the overarching agreement at the summit called for countries “to accelerate the phasing-out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels”.

But in a new draft published on Friday morning, that statement has been changed to calling on countries to accelerate the shift to clean energy systems, “including by rapidly scaling up clean power generation and accelerating the phaseout of unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels”.

With much of the focus on ending the use of coal, very little has been discussed broadly about ending the use of fossil fuels for energy systems.

The inclusion of a reference to fossil fuels was a first for a UN decision document of this type but was expected to get fierce pushback from some countries – and still may not survive to the final text.

Greenpeace International executive director, Jennifer Morgan, said: “It could be better, it should be better, and we have one day left to make it a lot, lot better.

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“Right now the fingerprints of fossil fuel interests are still on the text and this is not the breakthrough deal that people hoped for in Glasgow.

“The key line on phasing out coal and fossil fuel subsidies has been critically weakened, but it’s still there and needs to be strengthened again before this summit closes. That’s going to be a big tussle and one we need to win.”

She added: “But there’s wording in here worth holding on to and the UK presidency needs to fight tooth and nail to keep the most ambitious elements in the deal.

"We’ve moved from richer nations largely ignoring the pleas of developing countries for promised finance to tackle climate change, to the beginnings of a recognition that their calls should be met. Now we need developed countries to scale up their offer of support and finance.

“Negotiators in Glasgow simply have to seize the moment and agree something historic, but they need to isolate the governments who’ve come here to wreck progress and instead listen to the calls of youth and vulnerable nations.”

Talks went on through the night and look set to overrun from their finish time of Friday evening as negotiators come under pressure to resolve issues around finance for poor countries, fossil fuels, the efforts of countries to cut emissions in the 2020s and rules on carbon markets and transparency.

The latest draft appears to have strengthened language on getting countries to “revisit and strengthen the 2030 targets” in their national action plans by the end of 2022 to align with global goals to limit temperature rises to “well below” 2C and try to limit them to 1.5C.

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The new version “requests” countries do so, compared to the previous version which “urges” them to do so.

Michael Jacobs, former climate adviser to Gordon Brown and veteran of Cop talks, said UK, EU and UNFCCC lawyers were saying that “requests” was stronger language than “urges”.

He said: “I see this as a strengthening of the language which effectively means countries are being told to come back next year with nationally determined contributions aligned to the 1.5C temperature goal.”

Scientists have warned that keeping temperature rises to 1.5C – beyond which the worst impacts of climate change will be felt – requires global emissions to be cut by 45% by 2030, and to zero overall by mid-century.

But current action plans known as nationally determined contributions for emissions cuts up to 2030 leave the world well off track to meet the goal, and could see warming of 2.4C over the long term.

So countries are under pressure to rapidly increase their ambition for emission cuts in the 2020s to stop the 1.5C goal slipping out of reach.

There is now a date – missing from the first draft – for when developed countries should double the provision of finance to help developing countries adapt to climate change – by 2025.

Providing finance for developing countries to develop cleanly, adapt to the impacts of climate change and address the loss and damage to people, livelihoods, land and infrastructure already being hit by increasing weather extremes and rising seas is also key to securing a deal in Glasgow.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Nicola Sturgeon said the updated draft agreement is “slightly better” but it “still has a way to go” to be sufficient.

The First Minister added: “So, it is in many respects slightly better than the draft that was published earlier in the week, but it still has a way to go.

“So, on the upside, you know, there’s a clear recognition that 1.5 degrees is the goal in terms of limiting global warming. There seems to be movement on adaptation finance, there is wording on loss and damage.”

Ms Sturgeon said: “On the downside, still not a delivery of the 100 billion dollars financial commitment (from developed nations to vulnerable countries), the expression of regret and disappointment – but the people who are expressing regret are the people who can deliver it. So hopefully we’ll see that change.

The Herald: First Minister Nicola SturgeonFirst Minister Nicola Sturgeon

“And still the fact that, although there is a recognition that 1.5 degrees is the goal, we are way off track to actually meet that, we’re still on a track for a world of 2.4 degrees global warming. For many parts of the world that is a death sentence.”

Labour’s shadow energy secretary, Ed Miliband, said he welcomes the draft text strengthening in some areas, but warned the 1.5C target is in “mortal peril”.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Miliband said, when it comes to halving global emissions this decade and limiting global warming to 1.5C, “the unfortunate reality is that we are miles off where we need to be”.

“I’m afraid we’re very much in the territory of living to fight another day. And that’s what this text is about,” he said.

“It’s about what happens when we come back next year and in future years. It’s about delivering on some of the things that haven’t been delivered, like the $100 billion of finance. So in that context there has been some strengthening that I welcome.

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He added: “The problem that remains for me in the text is there is ambiguity… the Paris goals were to keep global warming to well below 2C and make efforts to keep it to 1.5C, and there is ambiguity in the text about whether we are coming back for the former goal or the latter goal. So that needs strengthening if at all possible.”

He said the 1.5C target is “in mortal peril, and we’re going to have to do some things very differently in the next 12 months from the previous two years if we’re going to change things”.

He added: “We’ve got to do better on delivering this $100 billion. Rich countries have got to step up in these last 24-48 hours, however long it takes.”