- Countries working on details of new draft agreement
- Delegates herald possible breakthrough in loss and damage
- US proposes ‘phasing out’ fossil fuels
- Some countries want firmer goals for long-term action
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt, Nov 19 (Reuters) – Negotiators at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt moved closer to a breakthrough deal on Saturday to set up a fund to help people affected by global warming. poor countries, yet have yet to address how to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that drive them.
A final climate agreement is a day overdue, with representatives of nearly 200 countries desperate to strike a deal as a step forward in the fight against climate change.
Eamon Ryan, Ireland’s environment minister, said: “We have to hurry now, but not to a bad outcome. Not to hurry to accept things that we will then regret for years.”
EU climate policy chief Frans Timmermans said the region’s ministers were ready to “walk away” if the deal was not ambitious enough.
“We’d rather have no decision than a bad decision.”
The outcome of the two-week summit in the resort town of Sharm El Sheikh is a test of the world’s resolve to fight global warming, even as war in Europe and rampant consumer inflation distract international attention.
The draft COP27 agreement released on Saturday reiterated past pledges to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius to prevent the worst of climate change, but provided little evidence of the stronger emissions cuts needed to meet that target.
After days of tense talks at the summit, rich and developing nations put forward a proposal on Saturday for a fund to help countries dealing with irreparable damage from severe storms, floods, drought and wildfires.
For decades, rich countries including the United States and Europe have resisted the idea of creating so-called loss and damage funds, fearing it would make them legally liable for historic greenhouse gas emissions.
“We are satisfied that at least now there is something to do,” Nabeel Munir of Pakistan, the lead negotiator for the Group of 77 developing country bloc, said of the proposal.
Barbados negotiator Avinash Persaud called the proposal a “small victory for humanity”, the result of solidarity among small island nation leaders and the rest of the world in recognizing the growing impact of warming.
“Now we need to redouble our efforts to support energy, transport and agricultural transitions to limit future climate loss and disruption,” Persaud said, referring to the shift to cleaner forms of energy and sustainable agriculture.
Negotiators say the idea has broad support but needs to be paired with an ambition to reduce emissions that cause global warming.
“It is unacceptable that we finance the consequences of climate change while not working to address the real consequences of emissions,” said Sweden’s climate minister, Romina Pourmokhtari.
China and the United States, the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases, have so far remained silent on the proposal.
The European Union’s proposal to back the Loss and Damage Fund earlier this week gave impetus to the discussions, provided that big polluters, including China, pay the money and they also step up efforts to cut emissions.
It is unclear whether the EU’s conditions will be met.
For example, the draft agreement for COP27 released by the United Nations climate office on Saturday did not include references to India and the European Union calling for a gradual reduction in the use of “all fossil fuels”. Instead, it asks countries to phase down only coal, the most polluting fossil fuel, as agreed under last year’s Glasgow climate pact.
“This is certainly disappointing given the importance of keeping all fossil fuels below 1.5 degrees Celsius,” said David Waskow, international climate director at the World Resources Institute.
In last-minute talks on Saturday night, the U.S. went a step further by proposing to “phase out” fossil fuels, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
Oil- and gas-rich countries in Africa and the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, have opposed language targeting fossil fuels and opposed the U.S. proposal.
To close the huge gap between current climate commitments and the deeper cuts needed to avoid catastrophic climate change, the draft also requires countries that have not already done so to upgrade their 2030 emissions reduction targets by the end of 2023.
But some negotiators are keen to see the draft need to be upgraded not just next year, but every year for the next decade to ensure emissions fall as quickly as scientists say to stave off the worst effects of climate change .
Some activists say the draft offers some positives but still lacks ambition.
To complicate matters, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry, a powerful force in climate diplomacy, said on Friday that his COVID- 19 tested positive.
The State Department said Kerry was unable to participate in Saturday’s face-to-face talks but participated in bilateral talks via video call.
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Additional reporting by Valerie Volcovici and Jake Spring; Writing by Richard Valdmanis and Dominic Evans; Editing by Katy Daigle, Janet Lawrence and Chris Reese
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