SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — Negotiators say they have reached a potentially major deal on the thorniest issue of the United Nations climate talks in Egypt: the creation of a fund to compensate poor nations that are victims of extreme weather conditions exacerbated by rich countries’ carbon pollution.
Several ministers from around the world told The Associated Press that an agreement had been reached on a fund for what negotiators call loss and damage. It’s a big win for poorer nations who have long demanded cash – sometimes seen as reparations – because they often fall victim to climate disasters despite contributing little to the pollution that warms the world.
“So, hopefully, a 30-year journey of ours has finally come to fruition today,” said Pakistan’s Climate Minister Sherry Rehman, who has often taken leadership of the world’s poorest nations. A third of her nation was submerged this summer by a devastating flood, and she and other officials used the slogan: “What happened in Pakistan will not stay in Pakistan.”
The United States, which in the past has been reluctant to even talk about the loss and damage issue, is “working to sign,” said an official close to the negotiations.
If a deal is accepted, it must be approved by unanimous decision late Saturday night. But other parts of a deal, outlined in a package of proposals presented earlier in the day by the Egyptian chairs of the talks, are still under the hammer as negotiators head into what they hope is their final session.
There has been strong concern among both developed and developing countries about proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, known as mitigation. Officials said the language proposed by Egypt backtracked on some of the commitments made in Glasgow aimed at keeping alive the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial times. The world has already warmed by 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) since the mid-19th century.
Some of the Egyptian language on mitigation appeared to go back to the 2015 Paris agreement, which was before scientists knew how critical the 1.5 degree limit was, and strongly suggested a weaker 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) target. , which is why scientists and Europeans are afraid of a reversal, said climatologist Maarten van Aalst of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre.
Ireland’s Environment Minister Eamon Ryan said: “We need to get an agreement on 1.5 degrees. We need strong language on mitigation and that is what we will push for.”
However, attention has focused around the compensation fund, which has also been called a fairness issue.
“There is an agreement on losses and damages,” Maldivian Environment Minister Aminath Shauna told the AP early Saturday afternoon after a meeting with other delegations. “This means that for countries like ours we will have the mosaic of solutions that we have supported.”
New Zealand’s climate minister James Shaw said both the poor countries that would receive the money and the rich ones that would give it agreed to the proposed deal.
It’s a reflection of what can be done when poorer nations stick together, said Alex Scott, a climate diplomacy expert at think tank E3G.
“I think it’s huge for governments to come together to really work out at least the first step … how to deal with the issue of loss and damage,” Scott said. But like all climate finance, it’s one thing to build a fund and another to get money flowing in and out, he said. The developed world has still not met its 2009 pledge to spend $100 billion a year on other climate aid – designed to help poor nations develop green energy and adapt to future warming.
“The loss and damage financing draft decision offers hope to vulnerable people that they will get help to recover from climate disasters and rebuild their lives,” said Harjeet Singh, head of global policy strategy at Climate Action Network International.
China’s chief negotiator would not comment on a potential deal. European negotiators have said they are ready to support the deal, but have declined to say so publicly until the entire package is approved.
The Egyptian presidency, which had been criticized from all sides, proposed a new deal on damages and damages on Saturday afternoon and within hours a deal was reached, but Norway’s climate and environment minister Espen Barth Eide said it was not so much the Egyptians but the countries. Working together.
Under the latest draft, the fund would initially rely on contributions from developed countries and other private and public sources, such as international financial institutions. While major emerging economies such as China would not initially be required to contribute, this option remains on the table and will be negotiated in the coming years. This is a key demand of the European Union and the United States, which argue that China and other major polluters currently classified as developing countries have the financial clout and responsibility to pay their way.
The planned fund will largely target the most vulnerable nations, although there will be room for middle-income countries hit hard by climate disasters to receive aid.
A blanket decision summarizing the outcome of the climate talks does not include India’s call for a phase-out of oil and gas, in addition to last year’s agreement to wean the world off “irreducible” coal.
Several rich and developing countries called on Saturday for a last-minute push to strengthen emissions cuts, warning that the outcome barely builds on what was agreed in Glasgow last year.
It also does not require developing countries such as China and India to submit new targets before 2030. Experts say these are necessary to meet the more ambitious 1.5 degree Celsius target that would prevent some of the most extreme effects of climate change.
Throughout the climate summit, the delegations of America, China, India and Saudi Arabia kept a low public profile, while European, African, Pakistan and small island states were more vocal.
Many of the more than 40,000 attendees have left town and workers have begun packing up the massive booths in the sprawling convention zone.
UN climate meetings have evolved over the years to resemble trade fairs, with many countries and industry groups setting up pavilions and displays for meetings and panel discussions.
In many booths, chairs were stacked ready to be removed and screens had been removed, leaving cables hanging from the walls. Leaflets and leaflets were strewn on tables and floors. Snack bars, which Egyptian organizers said would remain open through the weekend, were empty.
At the youth booth, a gathering point for young activists, a pile of handwritten postcards from children to negotiators was left on a table.
“Dear COP27 negotiators,” read one card. “Keep fighting for a good planet.”
David Keyton, Theodora Tongas and Kelvin Chan contributed to this report.
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