Egypt’s climate change negotiators say they are still a long way from a deal

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — With just one day left in Egypt’s scheduled climate talks, diplomats say they’re a long way from getting anything everyone can agreeparticularly in the confrontation between developed and developing countries

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — With just one day left in Egypt’s scheduled climate talks, diplomats say they’re a long way from getting anything everyone can agreeparticularly in the confrontation between developed and developing countries around compensation for climatic disasters.

poorest countries who bear the brunt of climate change, from rising sea levels to extreme flooding, have stepped up the emergency, accusing the wealthiest polluters of stagnation and saying they can’t wait another year for the creation of a fund to pay for damages. Some said they were ready to kill a final deal if it didn’t include funds, while a few wealthier nations are threatening to block the road on some of the financial proposals from poor countries.

The Egyptian leadership of the summit, called COP27, also faced criticism after presenting a 20-page draft for an overall cover document on Thursday morning that delegates said was too long, vague and confusing.

“It is obvious that at this advanced stage of the COP27 process, there are still a number of issues on which progress remains insufficient,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, chairman of the summit, said Thursday evening, listing four of the biggest problems. of the conference.

Seconds later, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned of a “break in trust between North and South, and between developed and emerging economies”.

“The world is watching and has a simple message: stand up and deliver,” he told leaders after returning to Egypt from a conference of world leaders in Bali.

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António Guterres urged countries to “offer the kind of meaningful climate action people and the planet desperately need,” adding that there was “no time for finger pointing.”

The situation in the negotiations was so fragile that the Shoukry kept senior country officials in hour-long sessions on Thursday afternoon and evening to try to get things moving.

So far, it hasn’t quite worked out.

During a break from these sessions, Norwegian chief negotiator Henrik Hallgrim Eriksen summed up the situation as follows: “We have a lot of work to do. It’s not in good shape. It will take a lot of work to get it in good condition. It’s very long. And it’s not well structured.

Speaking to The Associated Press, Seve Paeniu, Tuvalu’s finance minister, expressed concern about the length of the project, which he noted the Egyptian presidency had presented with less than 48 hours on the clock.

The negotiators were also surprised by the ideas of the Egyptian draft which were never discussed during the two-week talks.

Among them was a call for developed countries to achieve “net negative carbon emissions by 2030” – a goal far more difficult than any major nation has so far committed to and which would be very difficult to achieve. The EU and US, for example, have said they aim to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, China by 2060.

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The head of the European Parliament at the UN climate conference described the document as “a bit of a wish list” with “all topics” added.

Bas Eirkhout said it was “too broad, too many topics, too vague language and too many elements, which I don’t think should be in a coverage decision”.

The conference is supposed to end on Friday, but past rallies have been extended to reach an agreement.

Long-time negotiations analyst Alden Meyer of E3G said that unlike in previous years, the conference president had delayed setting up special teams of ministers to find solutions to major issues, except loss and damage, and that puts it all behind.

Senior Western officials, including European Union climate chief Frans Timmermans, met with Shoukry and warned him “there are still a lot of gaps” in the project.

Timmermans said there was a “misunderstanding” over the Egyptian text.

“It wasn’t really a proposal,” Timmermans told reporters. “It was just kind of a roundup of everything they got, and they sent it out to the parties.”

“The last thing anyone wants is for this COP to end without a consensus,” said Timmermans, Canadian Climate Minister Steven Guilbeault and Britain’s Alok Sharma, who chaired last year’s talks in Glasgow. to the Egyptian foreign minister, according to Sharma’s office.

There are at least half a dozen instances where nations are “hijacking negotiations” by adopting tough and seemingly inflexible positions, Meyer said. The most important concerns a compensation fund for climatic disasters, known as “loss and damage” in the language of negotiators.

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“Waiting for the next COP or even COP29 is not an option for us. We will not leave without this fund,” Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner, climate envoy for the Marshall Islands, told a press panel. “We have been very clear. We need the fund now and it has to be a fund.

Pakistan’s climate change minister echoed the call. Pakistan was hit this summer by devastating floods that submerged a third of its territory.

“Time is running out” not just on this round of negotiations but on “all of humanity,” Sherry Rehman said. Some outside experts say Rehman could be the key to a compromise between rich and poor nations. She was seen snuggling with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Thursday evening.

The United States resists any fund that would suggest liability and compensation — let alone reparations — for decades of greenhouse gas emissions by industrialized nations.

European countries have backed calls by island nations for a “mosaic” of financial arrangements drawing on public and private funding sources.

But there are big differences on who should pay.

Baerbock said the money should come not just from industrialized countries, but also from major emerging economies whose greenhouse gas emissions have risen sharply in recent decades.

Big polluters China and India, however, argue they shouldn’t have to contribute because they are still officially considered developing countries.

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Pakistani Rehman told reporters that the group of countries she chairs, known as the G77 and China, wants ‘at least a political announcement of intent’ on wealthy polluters providing new financial aid to poor countries for the effects of global warming.

She clarified that she did not expect “a slew of funding” following the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting, but added that “if it continues to be rejected, we will see it as a denial of justice”.

Molwyn Joseph, Minister of Health, Welfare and Environment of Antigua and Barbuda, said: “Nothing less than the establishment of a fund for loss and damage at this COP is a betrayal.

The issue of loss and damage is one of the three financial aid pots discussed. Rich countries have agreed at past conferences to spend $100 billion a year to help poorer countries develop cleaner energy systems and adapt to prevent future disasters – though they have been slow to give funds.

A long-time participant in the climate talks, Yamide Dagnet of the Open Society Foundation, said developed countries were showing more openness about “loss and damage”.

“But the fear of compensation and liability remains a sword of Damocles that must be overcome,” said Dagnet, a former EU negotiator at the talks.

“The United States is probably the most nervous about the extent of its loss and damage after decades of stalling tactics, supported by other developed countries,” she said.

Kelvin Chan and Olivia Zhang contributed to this report.