Climate summit threatens to end without agreement

Climate negotiators are locked in a stalemate in frantic 11-hour talks at the UN climate summit in Egypt to agree a new deal for rich countries to give financial aid to poorer nations.

The summit was due to end on Friday, but negotiators said they would continue talks over the weekend to reach an agreement.

On Friday, the EU said it would support a new “losses and damages” fund to help poorer countries as long as the donor base of contributing countries is expanded.

But China, the world’s biggest polluter, has balked at proposals to help, despite pressure from developed countries. The US is also reluctant to support the EU proposal.

The US failure to respond to the EU proposal is “blatant,” said Preety Bhandari, a senior adviser at the World Resources Institute, adding it was “a deafening silence.”

The situation was further complicated when US climate chief John Kerry tested positive for Covid. The 78-year-old’s condition is “mild” and Kerry has been self-isolating, spokeswoman Whitney Smith said late Friday.

“He is collaborating with the negotiating team and overseas colleagues over the phone to ensure a successful outcome of COP27,” she added. Kerry reportedly had several hours of talks with Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua the previous day.

Annalena Baerbock, Germany’s foreign minister, said while wealthy industrialized countries should lead efforts to fund a new claims facility, others should also contribute.

“We need a financing system that includes the largest emitters,” she said at a COP27 news conference, with a thinly veiled reference to China. “We know how daunting this task is.”

The EU proposal stipulates that the money should only go to the most vulnerable nations and that countries must commit to more ambitious measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

China and Saudi Arabia have resisted the proposal to contribute to international climate finance, despite their significant economic growth over the past three decades.

However, a person familiar with the talks said they were “optimistic” that the US and EU could reach a “common position”. The EU would not accept any compromise that does not in some way increase the donor base, they added.

“If we make a breakthrough . . . I think a lot of other things will emerge,” said Alden Meyer, an expert on the UN climate negotiations at think tank E3G.

“I am here to appeal to all parties to face this moment and the greatest challenge facing humanity,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “The world is watching and has a simple message: stand and deliver.”

The summit has made little progress from the agreement reached at the COP26 summit in Glasgow last year.

The 2015 Paris Agreement was the first to articulate a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep global warming well below an increase of 2°C compared to pre-industrial times and ideally 1.5°C.

This year’s summit appeared to reaffirm the 1.5-degree global warming target, also endorsed by G20 leaders in Bali this week.

The summit has so far failed to reach agreement on the scope of a “work program” aimed at cutting emissions faster over the years to 2030.

Separately, a proposal by India that the final deal would include phasing out all fossil fuels and not just coal failed to make it into the final draft.

The establishment of a new UN-organized carbon offset market appears to be delayed until next year as little progress was made at COP27.

“My first reaction is that it’s a bit worrying,” said Tom Evans of think tank E3G. The draft text that countries are negotiating “represents no progress” on last year’s COP summit in Glasgow.

Some delegates criticized Egypt’s leadership of the conference.

COP27 President Sameh Shoukry met with country blocs throughout Friday. The delegations “made it clear to us how they felt,” said COP27 Ambassador Wael Aboulmagd. “Not everyone was completely happy.”

The Egyptian team have “a very clear game plan,” he added.

Additional reporting by Pilita Clark

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https://www.ft.com/content/66b5c3e9-2df8-4ab3-8d23-c4b1ce2e0e51 Climate summit threatens to end without agreement

Adam Bradshaw

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