Some 35,000 delegates from nearly 200 countries are expected to gather in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to discuss joint action to tackle the climate emergency.
Ahmad Gharabli | Afp | Getty Images
Countries struggled to reach an agreement at the COP27 climate talks in Egypt on Saturday, with some threatening to walk away if negotiators failed to make progress on the fight against climate change.
With talks already in overtime, officials from the 27-nation European Union said they were concerned about the lack of overnight progress and even the possibility of abandoning parts of the COP26 climate deal agreed in Glasgow, Scotland, last year.
“All (EU) ministers … are ready to leave if we don’t get a result that justifies what the world is waiting for – namely that we do something about this climate crisis,” said Frans Timmermans, the EU’s climate policy chief. reporters on the sidelines of the summit.
“We would rather have no decision than a bad decision.”
The outcome of the conference, which was due to end on Friday, aims to boost global resolve to fight climate change, even as war in Europe and rampant consumer inflation distract global attention.
But after two weeks of talks in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, none of the key issues under discussion this year had been resolved.
The president of COP27 in Egypt called on the parties to “rise to the occasion” and agree on a final agreement, while defending the version that has been agreed so far.
“The text keeps 1.5 alive,” said Sameh Shoukry, who is Egypt’s foreign minister.
Negotiators said they had not seen a new draft of the overall deal as of Friday morning, although they had reviewed separate drafts of compromises on deals on the most sensitive issues.
This draft had confirmed previous commitments to limit warming to 1.5C, but fell short of demands by some, including the European Union and the UK, to commit countries to more ambitious efforts to curb climate-warming emissions.
Dutch climate minister Rob Jetten said many countries were unhappy with the lack of progress on commitments to cut emissions to prevent the global temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius – the threshold at which scientists say the effects of climate change will worsen significantly .
“It’s simply not good enough,” Jetten told Reuters on the sidelines of the summit. “We’re still waiting for some text messages, but it feels like we’re going back to Glasgow and it’s going to be unacceptable.”
Friday’s draft comprehensive agreement also did not take up an Indian proposal, which has been backed by the EU and Britain, to ask countries to phase out all fossil fuel use, replacing coal.
Loss and damage
The fractious issue of so-called compensation payments to countries already affected by climate impacts left negotiators scrambling on Saturday to agree on a fund to help countries devastated by climate-driven floods, droughts, superstorms and wildfires.
In what it hoped would be a breakthrough, the European Union agreed on Thursday to back a request by the G77 group of 134 developing countries to create a special fund.
But while some climate-sensitive countries such as the Maldives expressed support, it was unclear whether the world’s two biggest economies and polluters — China and the United States — would sign on.
The EU’s offer came on the condition that the funding comes from a broad base of countries, including China, and that only the “most vulnerable countries” receive aid.
Complicating matters, US special climate representative John Kerry – a powerful force in climate diplomacy – tested positive for COVID-19 after days of bilateral in-person meetings with counterparts from China and the EU to Brazil and the United Arab Emirates.
An agreement must be reached at COP27 with the support of all the nearly 200 countries present. To receive daily in-depth coverage of COP27 in your inbox, sign up to the Reuters Sustainable Switch newsletter here.