Maldives Minister: Negotiators reach agreement on climate fund

SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) – Negotiators said they have reached a potential breakthrough deal on the thorny issue of United Nations climate talks, creating a fund to compensate poor countries suffering from extreme weather conditions exacerbated by rich countries’ carbon pollution. .

“There is an agreement on loss and damage,” Maldivian environment minister Aminath Shona told The Associated Press on Saturday, which negotiators call a concept. It still has to be approved unanimously later today. “This means for countries like ours that we will have a mosaic of solutions that we have been advocating for.”

The draft proposal came Saturday afternoon from the Egyptian presidency. The second comprehensive document from the leadership of climate talks ignores India’s call to cut back on oil and natural gas, as well as last year’s agreement to “relentlessly” wean the world off coal.

According to the draft compensation proposal – the issue is called “loss and damage” in negotiation parlance – developed countries will be “induced” to contribute to the fund, which may also draw on other private and public sources of funds such as international funds. financial institutions. In the talks, the world’s poorest countries, which have contributed little to historical emissions of heat-trapping gases, have united in insisting on such a fund.

“We were able to make progress on an important result,” said Wael Abul-Magd, head of the Egyptian delegation. “I think we’re getting there.”

However, the proposal does not indicate that major emerging economies such as China should contribute to the fund, which has been a major request of the European Union and the United States.

Nor does it tie the creation of the new fund to any increase in efforts to cut emissions, or to restrict recipients of financing to countries most at risk, which was an earlier proposal by the Europeans.

The two drafts issued by the Egyptian presidency on efforts to step up emissions cuts and the comprehensive resolution for this year’s talks hardly build on what was agreed upon in Glasgow last year.

The texts leave in place a reference to the Paris Agreement for a less ambitious target of limiting global warming to “well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit)” which scientists say is too risky.

Nor do they propose any new short-term targets for developing or developed countries, which experts say are needed to achieve the more ambitious 1.5°C (2.7°F) target that would prevent some of the more extreme impacts of climate change.

Loss and damage was the all-consuming issue in the two weeks of talks.

The European Union made a surprise proposal a few days ago Linking a climate catastrophe fund to emissions cuts beyond what the 2015 Paris climate agreement calls for. This landmark deal aims to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit), and no change this year can be interpreted as not reinforcing efforts.

Known as COP27, the meeting opened two weeks ago and was scheduled to conclude on Friday but appears to continue through the weekend.

Earlier on Saturday, government delegations and the meeting’s hosts pointed fingers at each other.

German Foreign Minister, Analina Berbock, said that responsibility for the fate of the talks “now rests with the Egyptian presidency of the COP.”

She said the EU made it clear overnight that “we are not going to sign a paper here that deviates significantly from the 1.5°C trajectory, and that would bury the 1.5° target”.

“If climate conferences set us back, we wouldn’t have to travel here in the first place,” she said.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, speaking in his capacity as summit chair, brushed off the blame.

“The issue now is in the will of the parties,” Shoukry told a news conference. “It is the parties that must rise to the occasion and shoulder the responsibility of finding areas of convergence and moving forward.”

He added that “everyone should show the necessary flexibility” to reach a consensus, and that Egypt was merely “facilitating this process”.

In another setback, John Kerry, the US climate envoy, has tested positive for COVID-19 Although he has only mild symptoms and is working on the phone with his negotiating team and foreign counterparts, his spokesperson said late Friday.

Throughout the climate summit, the US, Chinese, Indian and Saudi delegations kept a low profile, while European, African, Pakistani and small island states were more vocal.

The main point of contention remains over the problem called loss and damage. The world’s poorest countries are insisting that Western carbon polluters create a fund to compensate countries affected by extreme weather events, such as Pakistan and its devastating floods, Because the developing world puts fewer heat-causing gases into the atmosphere.

“These negotiations are not going to work if they are pitting one country against another, one bloc against another,” said Irish Environment Minister Eamon Ryan, one of the lead negotiators on the losses and damages. “The only way it will work is if we sit down together and realize we have a common cause that we are in common danger and one solution can be a good solution.”

Mohamed Addo of climate advocacy group Power Shift Africa blamed the US and the EU, saying: “They are two groups of parties that are currently obstructing and delaying the delivery of our solidarity results from Sharm El-Sheikh.”

“I have to say we are now very close to getting our loss and damage money,” Addo said. “And because of that, we see one of the biggest historical polluters threatening to pull out.”

Wasko said the United States may have moved its position a little bit and seems more willing to accept the creation of a loss and damage fund, but the division now revolves around where and how that fund is managed and who puts the money in it.

Many of the 40,000-plus attendees left town, and workers began packing vast booths in the sprawling convention 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 panel discussions.

In many suites, chairs were stacked neatly and ready for removal, and screens were taken away, leaving cables dangling from the walls. Pamphlets and pamphlets were strewn across the tables and floors. Snack bars, which Egyptian regulators said would remain open over the weekend, were emptied.

In the Youth Pavilion, a gathering place for young activists, a stack of handwritten postcards from children to negotiators has been left on a table, in what was perhaps an apt metaphor for a game situation as conversations stumble.

“Dear COP27 negotiators,” one card read. “Keep fighting for a good planet.”

A gust of wind occasionally blew from the nearby open doors causing some cards to fall to the floor.

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Kelvin Chan and Theodora Tongas contributed to this report.

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