Sharm Alsheikh, Egypt
Although significant progress was made on Saturday, international climate negotiations continue at the UN’s COP27 climate summit early Sunday morning.
The closing plenary session of this year’s Conference of the Parties is scheduled to start at 3 am Egypt time, according to a Notice from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
For the second year in a row, the marathon negotiations dragged on past their scheduled end, as countries tried to craft stronger language about phasing out all fossil fuels, including oil and gas, rather than unabated coal, according to several NGOs monitoring the talks.
Elsewhere, progress has been made. On Saturday, the parties reached a preliminary agreement to establish a Loss and Damage Fund For countries vulnerable to climate disasters, according to negotiators with the EU and Africa, as well as NGOs monitoring the talks.
Whitney Smith, a spokeswoman for US climate envoy John Kerry, confirmed to CNN that the US is also working to sign a deal on the Loss and Damage Fund.
A senior Biden administration official told CNN that the fund will focus on what can be done to support losses and damages to resources, but does not include provisions for liability or compensation. The United States and other developed countries have long sought to avoid such provisions that could expose them to legal liability and lawsuits from other countries.
If completed, it could represent significant progress in negotiations on a controversial topic – and is seen as a reversal, as the US has in the past opposed efforts to create such a fund.
Not everything is settled yet An EU source directly involved in the negotiations warned earlier Saturday that the deal is part of the larger COP27 agreement that needs to be approved by nearly 200 countries. Negotiators worked all night into Sunday. Other issues, including language around fossil fuels, linger, according to several NGOs monitoring the talks.
But the source said progress has been made. In a debate on Saturday afternoon, Egyptian time, the European Union managed to persuade the bloc of the Group of 77 countries to agree to direct the fund to countries at risk, which could pave the way for an agreement on losses and damages.
If the agreement is finalized, it will represent a major breakthrough on the international scene and far exceed the expectations of this year’s climate summit. The mood among some delegates was elated.
Countries most vulnerable to climate disasters – which have contributed little to the climate crisis – have struggled for years to secure a loss and damage fund.
Developed countries have historically produced the most greenhouse emissions Reluctant to sign a fund They felt it could expose them to legal liability for climate disasters.
Details about how the fund will operate remain murky. Climate experts told reporters on Saturday that the tentative text says a fund will be set up this year, but leaves plenty of questions about when it will be finished and operational. The text talks about a transition committee that will help clarify those details, but it doesn’t set future deadlines.
“There are no guarantees of schedule,” Nisha Krishnan, director of resilience at the World Resources Institute Africa, told reporters.
Loss and damage fund advocates were pleased with the progress, but noted that the draft is not perfect.
“We are pleased with this outcome because it is what developed countries wanted – but not everything they came for,” Erin Roberts, founder of The Loss and Damage Collaboration, told CNN in a statement. “Like many, I too have been conditioned to expect very little from this process. While the creation of the fund is certainly a win for developing countries and those on the front lines of climate change, it is an empty fund with no financing. It is too little, too late for those who They are on the front lines of climate change. But we’re going to work on it.”
At COP27, demand for the Loss and Damage Fund – from developing countries, the G77 bloc and activists – peaked, driven by a number of major climate disasters this year including Devastating floods in Pakistan.
The conference went into overtime on Saturday before continuing into the wee hours of Sunday morning, negotiators still working out the details while workers dismantled the venue around them. At times, there was a real sense of exhaustion and frustration. Complicating matters is the fact that Kerry – the top US climate official – is now self-isolating Recently tested positive for Covidand working on phones rather than having face-to-face meetings.
Earlier on Saturday, EU officials threatened to walk out of the meeting if the final agreement failed to ratify a target of limiting temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
World scientists have warned for decades that warming should be limited to 1.5 degrees – a threshold that is fast approaching as the planet’s average temperature has already risen to about 1.1 degrees. Beyond 1.5 degreesScientists in India say the risks of severe drought, forest fires, floods and food shortages will increase dramatically The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
At a carefully choreographed press conference on Saturday morning, the EU’s green deal czar Frans Timmermann, flanked by a full lineup of ministers and other senior officials from EU member states, said that “there is no better deal than a bad deal”.
“We don’t want 1.5C to die here and today. This is totally unacceptable for us.
The EU has made it clear that it is willing to agree to the Loss and Damage Fund – a significant shift in its stance from last week – but only in return for a strong commitment to the 1.5 degree target.
As the sun set in Sharm el-Sheikh on Saturday evening, the mood turned to guarded jubilation, as groups of negotiators began to hint that a deal was imminent.
But, as is always the case with high-level diplomacy, officials were quick to stress that nothing was really agreed upon until the final gavel fell.