SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — Negotiators say they have reached a potentially game-changing deal on the thorniest issue of the United Nations climate talks, the creation of a fund to compensate poor countries hit by extreme weather exacerbated by carbon pollution from rich countries.
“There is a loss and damage agreement,” is what the negotiators are calling the concept, Maldives Environment Minister Aminath Shauna told The Associated Press on Saturday. It still needs to be unanimously approved in a vote later today. “It means that for countries like ours, we will have the patchwork of solutions that we advocate.”
Saturday afternoon’s draft proposal came from the Egyptian presidency. A second global climate talks leadership paper ignores India’s call to phase out oil and natural gas, on top of last year’s deal to wean the world off coal ‘relentlessly’ “.
Under the draft compensation proposal – the issue is called “loss and damage” in the language of the negotiations – developed countries would be “urged” to contribute to the fund, which would also tap into other sources of private and public funding such than international funding. financial institutions. At the talks, the world’s poorest countries, which have contributed little to historic emissions of heat-trapping gases, united in insisting on such a fund.
“We managed to make progress on an important result,” said Wael Aboulmagd, who leads the Egyptian delegation. “I think we’re getting there.”
However, the proposal does not suggest that large emerging economies such as China should contribute to the fund, which was a key request from the European Union and the United States.
It also does not tie the creation of the new fund to an increase in emissions reduction efforts, or limit the recipients of the funding to the most vulnerable countries, which had been an earlier proposal by the Europeans.
Two drafts released by the Egyptian presidency, on efforts to step up emissions cuts and the overall decision for this year’s talks, barely build on what was agreed in Glasgow last year.
The texts leave in place a reference to the Paris agreements’ less ambitious goal of limiting global warming to “well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit)”, which scientists say is far too risky .
Nor do they suggest any new short-term goals for developing or developed countries, which experts say are needed to meet the more ambitious 1.5°C (2.7°F) target that would prevent some of the most extreme effects of climate change.
Losses and damages were the central issue of the two weeks of talks.
The EU made a surprise offer a few days earlier tying a climate disaster fund to emissions reductions that go beyond what the 2015 Paris climate accord calls for. This landmark agreement aims to limit global temperature rise to an ambitious 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), and no change this year could be construed as stepping up efforts.
The meeting known as COP27 opened two weeks ago and was due to end on Friday, but is expected to run through the weekend.
Earlier Saturday, government delegations and the Egyptian meeting hosts pointed fingers at each other.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the responsibility for the fate of the talks “now lies with the Egyptian COP presidency”.
She said the European Union had made it clear overnight that “we will not sign a document here that diverges significantly from the 1.5 degree Celsius trajectory, which would bury the 1.5 degree target”.
“If these climate conferences set us back, we wouldn’t have needed to travel here,” she said.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, speaking as chairman of the summit, deflected blame.
“The question now rests on the will of the parties,” Shoukry told a press conference. “These are the parties that need to rise to the occasion and take responsibility for finding areas of convergence and moving forward.”
He added that “everyone must show the necessary flexibility” to reach a consensus, and that Egypt was only “facilitating this process”.
In another setback, top US climate envoy John Kerry tested positive for COVID-19 although he has only mild symptoms and is working by phone with his negotiating team and overseas counterparts, his spokesman said Friday evening.
Throughout the climate summit, delegations from the United States, China, India and Saudi Arabia kept a low public profile, while European, African, Pakistani and small island nations were more vocal.
A key sticking point remains on the issue of loss and damage. The world’s poorest countries are insisting that carbon-polluting Western countries set up a fund to compensate countries hit by climate extremes, like Pakistan and its devastating floods, because developing countries release few heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere.
“These negotiations will not work if they pit one country against another, one bloc against another,” said Irish Environment Minister Eamon Ryan, one of the main loss and damage negotiators. “The only way it will work is if we sit down collaboratively and recognize that we have a common cause because we are in common peril and the only solution can be a good solution.”
Mohamed Adow of the climate advocacy group Power Shift Africa blamed the United States and the European Union, saying “these are the two party groups that are currently blocking and delaying the delivery of our solidarity outcome in Sharm el -Sheikh”.
“We are now, I have to say, very close to getting a loss and damage fund,” Adow said. “And because of that, we see one of the biggest polluters in history threatening to leave.”
The United States may have changed its position a bit and seems more willing to accept the creation of a fund for loss and damage, but the division is now over where and how this fund is administered and who puts money into it. money, Waskow said.
Many of the more than 40,000 attendees left town and workers began packing up the sprawling pavilions of the sprawling conference area.
COP meetings have evolved over the years to resemble trade fairs, with many countries and industry groups setting up booths and displays for meetings and roundtables.
In many booths, chairs were neatly stacked ready to be removed, and monitors had been swept away, leaving cables hanging from the walls. Pamphlets and pamphlets were strewn all over the tables and floors. Snack bars, which Egyptian organizers said would remain open all weekend, were emptied.
At the Youth Pavilion, a gathering place for young activists, a pile of handwritten postcards from children to negotiators were left on a table, in what was perhaps an apt metaphor for the state of play as talks stalled.
“Dear COP27 negotiators,” reads one card. “Keep fighting for a good planet.”
An occasional gust of wind from nearby open doors blew some of the cards to the ground.
Kelvin Chan and Theodora Tongas contributed to this report.
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