To reach a UN climate agreement, nations must reach a coal compromise.


Nations reach an agreement on coal in order to reach a UN climate agreement.

Associated Press writers SETH BORENSTEIN and FRANK JORDANS contributed to this report.

GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — Nearly 200 countries agreed to a compromise deal on Saturday to keep a key global warming target alive, but it included a last-minute change that softened crucial coal language.

Several countries, including small island states, expressed dissatisfaction with India’s decision to “phase down,” rather than “phase out,” coal power, which is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement that “our fragile planet is hanging by a thread.”

“We’re still on the verge of a climate disaster.”

On the final day of two weeks of UN climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, nation after nation complained that the deal did not go far or fast enough, but they said it was better than nothing and provided incremental progress, if not success.

Finally, the summit made history by singling out coal, albeit in a weak way, by establishing rules for international carbon credit trading, and by telling big polluters to return next year with stronger emissions reduction pledges.

However, domestic political and economic priorities prevented countries from making the rapid, large cuts that scientists say are required to keep global warming below dangerous levels that would result in extreme weather and rising seas that could wipe out some island nations.

The United Nations had set three success criteria for the Glasgow talks ahead of time, but none of them were met.

Pledges to cut carbon dioxide emissions in half by 2030, (dollar)100 billion in financial aid from rich to poor countries, and ensuring that half of that money went to helping developing countries adapt to the worst effects of climate change were among the UN’s criteria.

“At this conference, we did not achieve these goals,” Guterres said.

“However, we do have some stepping stones toward progress.”

Because the coal language change came so late, negotiators from Switzerland and Mexico said it was against the rules.

They claimed, however, that they had no choice but to swallow their pride and go along with it.

The change, according to Swiss environment minister Simonetta Sommaruga, will make it more difficult to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius…

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