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A delegate at COP26 in Glasgow on Nov. 12, 2021. Photo: Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images

GLASGOW, Scotland An explicit effort to push the global economy away from coal and phase out fossil fuel subsidies has softened but remains alive in the latest draft COP26 summit agreement.

Why it matters: The careful language of the nonbinding agreement is meant as a critical global consensus on the scope of actions needed to prevent global warming's most dire harms.

Where it stands: Friday morning brought revisions to the summit text ahead of fever pitch negotiations toward the end of COP26, which is scheduled to conclude within hours but will almost certainly bleed into the weekend.

Driving the news: The new language slightly tweaks the prior draft by now calling for countries to speed up the phaseout of "unabated" coal-fired power.

  • "Unabated" is a coded nod to the idea of using coal generation with carbon capture, even though that has yet to gain much real-world traction.
  • Meanwhile, it calls for phasing out "inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels," while the earlier draft didn't have the inefficient part.

The revised text is also more balanced between an emphasis on cutting emissions and providing more financial and technical assistance to developing countries in order to help them to better withstand climate impacts and compensate them for past damage.

  • The text pushes countries to revisit their emissions commitments by the end of 2022 and revisit 2030 targets throughout the 2020s.
  • It would also establish a "facility" on technical assistance for helping developing countries address damages already incurred by global warming, and calls for holding a workshop on loss and damage as well. In addition, it calls for a doubling of adaptation funding, to help countries withstand climate impacts going forward.

Yes, but: The latest draft does not go so far as to establish a standing fund for "loss and damage," a step the U.S. opposes, according to a State Department official in a briefing with reporters on Thursday.

What they're saying: "Friends, this is our collective moment for history," said COP president, U.K. politician Alok Sharma. "We must rise to the occasion."

The big picture: Outside and within the sprawling convention center where the negotiations are taking place, there is a sense of the high stakes involved as talks come down to the wire.

  • Protestors lined the streets outside, calling for climate justice and demanding a far-reaching agreement. Inside, weary negotiators mixed with others running from room to room, trying to settle key outstanding issues. Some slept on chairs.
  • Protestors from civil society groups marched through the building, shouting: "What do we want?" "Climate justice!" When do we want it?" "Now!"

Go deeper: What to know about COP26 in Glasgow

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Nov 19, 2021 - Energy & Environment

What moves the climate communications needle

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new paper finds that words used in news stories to label climate change are less consequential than whether stories emphasize harm or solutions.

Driving the news: Researchers tested engagement with "climate crisis" and "climate emergency" — phrasing that has gained media traction — and "climate change."

California father and son accused of "reckless arson" in Calder Fire

Firefighters at the Caldor Fire along Highway 89 west of Lake Tahoe, California, in September. Photo: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California officials said they arrested a father and son Wednesday on suspicion of starting the Caldor Fire, which threatened the Lake Tahoe area as it burned for over two months earlier this year. They deny any wrongdoing.

Why it matters: The wildfire was the 15th-biggest ever recorded in California, razing more than 1,000 structures, forcing thousands to evacuate and injuring five people as it burned across nearly 222,000 acres of land in El Dorado, Amador and Alpine counties.

New Zealand aims to create smoke-free generation with tobacco ban

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at a December news conference in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand officials announced Thursday legislative plans to outlaw smoking by making it illegal to sell or supply tobacco products to the next generation as part of a lifetime ban.

Why it matters: "People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco," Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said in a statement announcing the proposed law, part of the Smokefree 2025 Action Plan.

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