By SETH BORENSTEIN, KELVIN CHAN and FRANK JORDANS
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — In the final days of international climate talks in Egypt, negotiators on Thursday tried to screw up key countries’ positions on several issues, most notably the confrontation between developed and developing countries over compensation for climate-related disasters.
Poorer countries, who are bearing the brunt of climate change, from rising sea levels to extreme flooding, stepped up the urgency, accusing richer polluters of delaying and saying they couldn’t wait another year to set up a fund to pay for damages. Some said they are willing to exit a definitive deal if it doesn’t include a fund.
Spoilers have emerged on multiple fronts, including the US, Saudi Arabia and China opposing reforms demanded by developed and developing countries.
The outcome document of the annual UN Climate Change Conference, known as COP27, must be unanimous. There are at least half a dozen instances where nations are “holding negotiations hostage” by taking tough, seemingly inflexible positions, said Alden Meyer, longtime negotiation observer at think tank E3G. The conference is due to end on Friday, but previous meetings have been expended trying to reach an agreement.
Marshall Islands climate commissioner Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner said this year’s gathering must agree on a compensation fund for climate disasters, known in negotiator parlance as “loss and damage.”
“Waiting for the next COP or even COP29 is not an option for us. We’re not leaving without this fund,” she told a press panel. “We were really clear. We need the fund now, and it has to be a fund.” The Marshall Islands are a chain of islands between Hawaii and the Philippines, most of which are no more than two meters (6.5 feet) above sea level.
The Pakistani climate minister joined the call. Pakistan was hit by devastating floods this summer, inundating a third of its territory, killing more than 1,700 people and causing more than $30 billion in damage.
“The clock is ticking” not only for this series of negotiations, but for “all of humanity,” said Sherry Rehman.
“What happened in Pakistan will not stay in Pakistan,” she said. “This dystopia that came to our doorstep will come to everyone.”
The United States opposes any fund that would propose liability and compensation — let alone reparations — for decades of greenhouse gas emissions from industrialized nations.
Another big point of contention is who pays. European countries have backed island states’ calls for a “mosaic” of financial arrangements, drawing on public and private sources of funding. But there are major disagreements among negotiators over whether all major issuers should pay; Big polluters China and India argue they shouldn’t have to contribute because they are still officially considered developing countries.
“Anything other than establishing a loss and damage fund at this COP is treasonous,” said Molwyn Joseph, Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Health, Wellness and Environment.
Rehman told reporters Thursday that the group of countries she chairs, known as the G77 and China, want “at least a political announcement of intentions” for rich polluters to provide new financial aid to poor nations for the effects of global warming.
She made it clear that she did not expect “a lot of finance” to result from the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting, but added that “if this continues to be kicked out in the streets, we will see this as a denial of justice.” .
A longtime participant in the climate talks, Yamide Dagnet of the Open Society Foundation, said this year’s meeting saw a greater openness from developed countries to the idea of providing financial assistance for losses and damages.
“But fears of compensation and liability remain a sword of Damocles to overcome,” said Dagnet, a former EU negotiator at the talks.
“The United States is probably most nervous about how much it can concede in losses and damage after decades of delaying tactics backed by other developed countries,” she said.
Dagnet said the idea of a “mosaic” of proposed funds rather than a single fund is acceptable to many vulnerable countries, but that they “want to have a one-stop shop to get resources to address this escalating problem of loss and damage.” ”
The issue of loss and damage is one of three funding pools that will be discussed. Rich nations 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 — although they have lagged behind in providing the funds.
Loss and damage is about paying the cost of climate impacts that are already unavoidable or occurring, such as extreme weather events and sea level rise.
An African Union official said some countries are concerned about “how far (losses and damage) can go” – reflecting concerns about unlimited claims – and are urging to be part of the adaptation finance already in place. Paul Elvis Tangem, coordinator of the AU Commission’s Great Green Wall Initiative, expressed pessimism that an agreement on losses and damage would be reached later this year. “But I believe we will have our own funding at the next COP,” he said.
The negotiating situation is so fragile that the president of the summit held the countries’ top officials in an hour-long meeting on Thursday afternoon to try to get things moving.
Negotiations were further confused by a draft decision proposed by host Egypt, which negotiators say contains ideas never discussed at the two-week talks.
This includes a call for developed countries to achieve “net-negative carbon emissions” by 2030 – a far more stringent target to which no major nation has yet committed and which would be very difficult to achieve. For example, the EU and the US have announced net-zero emissions by 2050, China by 2060.
Diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, say the 20-page draft, released early Thursday, is far more vague and bloated than would normally be expected at this stage of negotiations.
Senior Western officials met with the chair of the conference, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, and warned that “many loopholes remain in the draft decisions.”
The three officials – Britain’s Alok Sharma, who chaired talks in Glasgow last year, EU climate chief Frans Timmermans and Canada’s climate minister Steven Guilbeault – told Shoukry that recent pledges by the Group of 20 big developed and emerging economies in Bali “should be the basis and not the ceiling” in Sharm el-Sheikh.
“The last thing anyone wants is for this COP to end without consensus,” they said, according to Sharma’s office.
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https://www.ocregister.com/2022/11/17/lines-in-the-sand-need-redrawing-to-reach-climate-deal-2/ Lines in the sand need to be redrawn to reach a global climate deal – Orange County Register