Countries reach tentative deal on payments as climate talks work overtime

Organizers and representatives gave no indication of when the talks would end.

The final draft of the text seen by POLITICO shows that the agreement on the damage fund remains intact despite confusion in the final hours after the adverb describing fragile states was changed from “special” to “special”. Negotiators said Egypt, which chairs the summit, blamed a typo for the change.

Another part of the deal being negotiated said the process aimed at encouraging faster reductions in pollution “would not impose new goals or objectives”. This is a line that Europeans are desperately trying to get rid of.

European regulators on Saturday threatened to walk out of talks if countries did not agree to stronger pledges to cut greenhouse gas pollution. European officials have accused ruling oil producer Saudi Arabia and major coal burner China of trying to water down the agreement.

Still, a sticking point in the talks emerged on Friday, when negotiators said the United States agreed to set up a fund to pay for developing countries’ losses from climate damage, in a major break from past positions. Washington has long opposed such a fund, fearing it would expose the U.S. to legal action for all the carbon that has been pumped into the atmosphere over the past century and a half.

Seve Paeniu, the finance minister of the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, confirmed on Saturday that an agreement had been reached to set up a payments fund, one of the most contentious issues at the summit.

Meanwhile, U.S. negotiators have insisted that China — the world’s second-largest economy and current leader in greenhouse gas pollution — contribute to any such fund. China argues that it should accept the payment, citing a 1992 agreement by the United Nations that classifies it as a developing country.

The U.S. boycott of the climate fund has drawn constant criticism from delegates representing countries threatened by climate change, even as President Joe Biden sought to use the summit to reassert U.S. leadership in the fight against global warming.

An EU official said the deal, which has yet to be finalized, “decides to establish new funding arrangements to assist developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to climate change to cope with loss and damage.”

The same official said a clause in the draft text that referred to “identifying and expanding funding sources” made vague references to expanding the national base for contributions to the fund. The EU will work next year to ensure that reference applies to countries such as China and Saudi Arabia.

The talks in Egypt set the stage for more decisive negotiations at the next UN climate summit in the United Arab Emirates, scheduled for late 2023. The talks will attempt to work out more details on the design of the new fund.

But with key aspects of the talks still underway in Sharm el-Sheikh, particularly plans to encourage deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who is leading the talks, has warned against putting any aspect of the agreement at risk. on hold.

“I don’t want to speculate or influence ongoing discussions and negotiations,” he said.

Sara Schonhardt contributed to this report.

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