ENVIRONMENTAL campaign groups have slammed the second draft Glasgow agreement as going “backwards” after watering down crucial commitments on fossil fuels.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) have both criticised the reissued COP26 deal for not going far enough and said that rich countries are “preparing their escape hatch”.

It comes as negotiations at the climate summit are heading into the final hours, with negotiations reportedly expected to last long into the weekend.

A key part of the text initially read that countries would commit to the “phasing out of coal and fossil fuel subsidies” in the first draft released on Wednesday.

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But on Friday, the revised draft calls upon Parties to “accelerate the development, deployment and dissemination of technologies,and the adoption of policies, to transition towards low-emission energy systems, including by rapidly scaling up clean power generation and accelerating the phasing-out of unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels”.

Campaign groups have criticised the change and said they expect world leaders to go further as the summit reaches its final hours.

Rachel Kennerley, international climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said:“As the minutes tick down, accepting responsibility and how to ramp up climate finance should be the theme of negotiations.

“But instead, it looks like rich countries are preparing their escape hatch. This new draft released this morning speaks about removing inefficient fossil fuels subsidies, as if efficient ones are acceptable.”

Kennerley added that this was discussed in 2009 at the G8, and said the UK has “clearly failed in delivering it”.

The National:

Campaigners outside the gates of COP26 on Friday

She added: “This summit has recycled announcements to much fanfare that weren’t done the first time so there is still a worrying gap between existing commitments and the deeper cuts needed to get to the key COP goal of 1.5 °C.

“We need to leave oil and gas where it is, accelerate emissions reductions, and increase financial support from richer countries responsible for climate chaos.

“It’s that simple and leaders should now be incredibly focused on showing how they will do this, the time to talk has gone, we need to see plans now."

Meanwhile, WWF said that the draft has gone “backwards in key areas” and said they expected the second draft to be “stronger and more concrete” in crucial areas.

Vanessa Perez-Cirera, WWF Global Deputy Lead, said: “The accelerated phase-out of unabated coal power and inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels is considerably weaker than the previous text, but nevertheless it’s an important signal.

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“We must see the phase-out of all coal and all subsidies for fossil fuels, with deadlines for delivering on that, if we are to ensure that we keep 1.5℃ within reach.

“The short-term ratcheting-up of climate pledges by 2022 that continues to be in the text is welcomed, but still not aligned to 1.5℃. This must be matched with short-term action, for example, by agreeing to phase-out the trillions being spent on subsidizing fossil fuels annually which could well serve to meet the US$100 bn which Parties failed to meet at this COP.”

However, Perez-Cirera added that there were some signs of hope and moves in the right direction in the second draft.

She said: “It is, however, encouraging that the new text emphasizes nature’s critical role in achieving the Paris Agreement temperature goal.

The National:

Activists are calling on delegates to go further in negotiations

“The science is clear, there is no viable route to limiting global warming to 1.5C without nature. It is vital that parties ensure this language remains in the final text.

“We also welcome the recommendation to governments to incorporate nature in their national climate action plans.”

Greenpeace also said that the “fingerprints of fossil fuel interests” are still on the text and that it isn’t the “breakthrough deal” campaigners have been calling for.

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Jennifer Morgan, Greenpeace International Executive Director, said: “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. Meanwhile we’ve gone from ‘urging’ countries to strengthen their 2030 emissions targets in line with the 1.5C goal to merely ‘requesting’ they do so by 2022.

“It wasn’t good enough before, it’s even weaker now and that needs to change.”

As COP26 heads into the final hours, check our live blog here for the latest updates.