GLASGOW, Scotland – Nearly 200 nations agreed to a deal Saturday that had some delegates saying the compromise didn’t go far enough to clamp down on the drivers of climate change.
The evident disappointments stemmed from a last-minute change in language surrounding the future of coal.
A handful of countries led by India and China fought for coal power to be "phased down" versus "phased out" as part of the Glasgow Climate Pact.
"We did not achieve these goals at this conference. But we have some building blocks for progress," said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.
Guterres was one of many leaders who spoke out after the two-week conference in Scotland.
COP26 president Alok Sharma publicly apologized for the deal-making process but said despite the disappointments, an agreement needed to be reached.
"I would say, however, that this is a fragile win. We have kept 1.5 alive. That was our overarching objective when we set off on this journey two years ago, taking on the role of the COP presidency-designate. But I would still say that the pulse of 1.5 is weak," Sharma said.
Several world-renowned groups, including the International Energy Agency, have labeled coal as one of the largest contributors to greenhouse-gas emissions.
Experts believe that without a reduction in its use, keeping the goal of the planet’s warming to less than 1.5 °C would be difficult.
Despite the last-minute changes in the pact, U.S. special climate envoy John Kerry remained optimistic about the conference’s progress.
"I’ll take ‘phase it down’ and fight next year to go on to where we need to go," Kerry said.
A review of the progress on climate action will take place at the COP27 meeting in Egypt in 2022.