SHARM AL SHEIKH, Egypt: With only a day left in scheduled climate negotiations in Egypt, diplomats say they are far from getting something everyone can agree on, particularly in the confrontation between developed and developing nations over compensation for climate disasters.
Poorer countries that bear the brunt of climate change, from rising sea levels to extreme flooding, stepped up the urgency, accusing richer polluters of stalling, and said they cannot wait another year for the creation of a fund to pay for damages. Some said they were ready to kill a final deal if it doesn’t include a fund, while a few richer nations threaten roadblocks over some of the poorer nations’ financial proposals.
UN chief Antonio Guterres, meanwhile, said negotiators must overcome a “breakdown in trust” between rich and poor nations to deliver a deal to save the world from the worst of global warming,
“We are at crunch time in the negotiations,” he said. “The world is watching and has a simple message: stand and deliver.” “Global emissions are at their highest level in history - and rising. Climate impacts are decimating economies and societies - and growing. We know what we need to do - and we have the tools and resources to get it done,” he said.
His speech was intended to rally negotiators that have become stuck on issues from whether a fund should be established to compensate poor nations for climate damage already ocurring, to language around fossil fuels use.
Wealthy nations, including the United States, have opposed creating a new loss and damage fund to support developing countries ravaged by climate change for fear it could expose them to limitless liability for their historic contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.
Breakdown in trust
“There is clearly a breakdown in trust between North and South, and between developed and emerging economies. This is no time for finger pointing,” Guterres said.
Guterres said he hopes to see negotiators bridge their differences on loss and damage in a way that reflects the “urgency, scale and enormity of the challenge faced by developing countries.” “No one can deny the scale of loss and damage we see around the globe,” he said. “The world is burning and drowning before our eyes.” He added he wanted to see countries commit to do more to reduce their emissions to achieve an international goal set in past COPs to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celcius, including by restricting fossil fuel usage.
“Fossil fuel expansion is hijacking humanity,” he said. Any hope of meeting the 1.5 target requires a step change in emissions reductions.” He also urged developed countries to deliver on a past pledge to provide $100 billion per year to help poor nations adapt to climate change and switch to clean energy.
The conference is supposed to end Friday, but past gatherings have been extended to reach a deal.
Longtime negotiations analyst Alden Meyer of E3G said that unlike in previous years, the president of the conference, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, delayed putting together special teams of ministers to push through solutions on big issues, except loss and damage, and that’s putting everything behind.
Senior Western officials, including the European Union climate chief Frans Timmermans, met with Shoukry and warned “there are still lot of gaps remaining’’ in the draft.
Timmermans said there was a “misunderstanding’’ over the Egyptian text.
“It wasn’t really a proposal,” Timmermans told reporters. “It was just sort of a gathering together of everything they had received, and they sent it on to the parties.’’
“The last thing anyone wants is for this COP to end without consensus,’’ Timmerman, Canadian Climate Minister Steven Guilbeault and Britain’s Alok Sharma, who chaired last year’s talks in Glasgow, told the Egyptian foreign minister, according to Sharma’s office.
Pakistan’s Rehman told reporters that the group of countries she chairs, known as G77 and China, wants “at the very least a political announcement of intent’’ on rich polluters providing new financial aid to poor nations for the effects of global warming.
She made clear that she didn’t not expect “a slew of finance’’ to result from the meeting in Sharm Al Sheikh but added that “if this continues to be kicked down the road we will see this as justice denied.’’