OPINION: The final draft agreement that came out of the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow was — unsurprisingly — a messy compromise.

For many in the oil and gas industry it will be met with relief, as the speed of change towards energy transition remains steady rather than sudden.

The words “fossil fuels” appeared as a reason for global heating for the first time in the sign-off statement and “inefficient” subsidies are to be wound down.

Agreement was reached on rules surrounding the operation of carbon markets, which can be expected to grow significantly in future.

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Methane emissions came under tough scrutiny and were covered by new pledges. There were moves to strengthen the role that green hydrogen plays in future energy, and climate finance is to be ramped up. But hydrocarbons, as a business, remain viable for now.

So this was a relatively positive result for industry, but the wider outlook for meeting the goals agreed at the 2015 Paris climate agreement on halting global heating remains highly uncertain.

In all, 197 countries have agreed new rules to limit overall carbon emissions, but there is no ban in sight on the use of coal — the heaviest polluting fossil fuel — due to opposition by India, China, the US and Australia.

India and China also helped remove a clause from what eventually became the final declaration from the summit meeting that referred to all fossil fuel subsidies being halted, replacing it with a reference to "inefficient" ones.

The International Energy Agency warned in August that 40% of the world’s existing coal-fired power stations need to close by 2030, and no new ones built, to stay within the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit.

The host nation UK admitted frustration at the last-minute changes on coal but this and the wider reference to inefficient fossil fuel subsidies ensure public financial support for carbon capture schemes can continue.

Developing countries were disappointed by the outcome, complaining not nearly enough was being done to repair the damage done by industrialised countries, or to help the poorer or most vulnerable nations adapt to climate change.

A previous commitment by developed nations to provide $100 billion a year of financial help to the global south is still not expected to be fulfilled till 2023, and demands went considerably further.

The overall compromise agreement at COP26 comes alongside a commitment to meet next year in Egypt, where the pressure for tougher action on carbon dioxide will undoubtedly build.

Environmental groups already have dismissed the Glasgow summit as a failure and oil companies can expect more protests.

There will certainly need to be concerted effort by fossil fuel companies and consumer countries to cut emissions, and there were signs of progress.

More than 100 countries — including the US, UK and European Union members — have signed a Global Methane Pledge to cut pollution at least 30% by the end of the decade.

This was a good start, as methane can be up to 80 times more damaging to the planet than carbon, but the one consensus that came out of COP26 is that more shorter-term measures of this kind are needed.

China, India but also Russia and Australia were notable absentees from the pledge. Let's hope they think again.

(This is an Upstream opinion article.)