The key issues that remain unresolved at COP26

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William Brangham:

That’s right, Judy.

On some level, this is to be expected. This happens at a lot of these U.N. conferences. There are just so many details to get through. You mentioned some of them. The first and foremost is this what’s called the emissions gap. And that is the chasm — and it is a chasm — between what nations pledged to cut with their emissions and what is needed to cut with emissions to get down to stopping the planet from warming an additional 1.5 degrees.

That has been the whole goal. One minister today said that the target of 1.5 degrees is hanging on by its fingernails. Another issue, of course, is the issue of subsidies. And this is somewhere around half-a-billion dollars that governments all around the world give every year to oil and gas companies to subsidize their work and to keep gas prices low.

John Kerry today referred to those subsidies as the definition of insanity. But the language in the draft report that was issued this morning is a little fuzzy on what we ought to be doing about those subsidies.

And then, of course, as we have been talking all week long, there is this issue of aid to the developing world. Wealthier nations promised $100 billion, but they have failed to deliver on that. According to their own recording — reporting, they have failed by, say, $20 billion. Oxfam estimates that that’s almost $80 billion that they’re short.

So, lots of issues to work out.