Unrest over COP26 as Estonian climate summit president quits

Image copyright EPA Image caption COP26 is set to end in chaotic scenes on Thursday The president of the UN climate summit has apologised after being suspended for using threatening language and calling the…

Unrest over COP26 as Estonian climate summit president quits

Image copyright EPA Image caption COP26 is set to end in chaotic scenes on Thursday

The president of the UN climate summit has apologised after being suspended for using threatening language and calling the body “unfit for purpose”.

Per Stig Moeller said he had made a “huge mistake” and, after “regretting my words”, would resign.

The bloc meeting in Katowice, Poland, is set to end in chaotic scenes on Thursday.

The path to agreement at the 14-day COP26 has become increasingly difficult as various countries try to block each other’s positions.

After a “technical note” was circulated – without its author or co-chair present – a huge row broke out over its inclusion, amid apparent attempts to set up a parallel meeting.

On Tuesday the Agrisile Group – a national task force representing 23 developing countries – said the meeting was illegal.

“Preliminary results show the environmental stocktaking meeting [COP26] taking place on the 30th of June is null and void and of no value whatsoever,” said a statement by the grouping.

Image copyright EPA Image caption Climate agreement deadline looming

Climate Justice Now, which has formed a coalition of more than 50 civil society groups, said it expected the members of the Agrisile Group would leave Katowice when they heard of Mr Moeller’s resignation.

“We take note of the decision by the Estonian presidency to tender the presidency of COP26 to Norway, but we call on the Danish presidency to ensure that the negotiations are guided by truth and justice and the commitments made at the UN climate talks in Paris become legally binding,” it said.

This is not the first time COP26 has been bedevilled by disputes.

Image copyright EPA Image caption Belgium wants to have complete control over COP26

After talks broke down in Bonn in November, Poland’s new climate negotiator fell sick, giving an opening to countries to demand their positions be presented.

The US followed in December, demanding to be allowed to make three amendments to the agreement.

‘Unfit for purpose’

Mr Moeller had blamed countries – including those represented at the talks in Katowice – for “holding up progress” in Katowice.

“The process is by now unworthy of the COP and unfit for purpose,” he told a news conference.

The report earlier this week quoted him as saying nations had behaved like “a bunch of dirty hippies” over their approach to climate change.

“It was a huge mistake for me to use the word ‘unfit’ and I regret that,” he said in a statement.

“Under these circumstances, I will step down as COP President and I will resign as the COP co-chair.”

He added: “We are closer than ever to getting a climate deal, and I want the UN climate talks to wrap up and get back to action.”

Image copyright EPA Image caption People protesting against the failure of the talks at COP24 in Poland.

Meanwhile, European climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete said he was “beyond disappointed” by Mr Moeller’s comments.

“The fact that he considers the body unfit for purpose is not an easy situation. In any case, it would be preferable if he did not use such language,” he said.

The UN has been at pains to point out that Poland is under no obligation to accept the damage caused by global warming beyond its national borders.

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