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Climate negotiators in Egypt say they remain far from a deal

Climate negotiators in Egypt say they remain far from a deal

World

Climate negotiators in Egypt say they remain far from a deal

SHARM EL-SHEIKH (AP) — 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 countries’ financial proposals.

Egypt’s leadership of the summit, called COP27, also came under criticism after it presented early Thursday a 20-page draft for an overarching cover document that delegates said was too long, vague and confusing.

“It is evidently clear that at this late stage of the COP27 process, there are still a number of issues where progress remains lacking,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, the president of the summit, said late Thursday, listing four of the biggest issues of the conference.

Seconds later, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned of a “breakdown in trust between North and South, and between developed and emerging economies.” “The world is watching and has a simple message: stand and deliver,” he told leaders after flying back to Egypt after a world leaders conference in Bali.

Guterres urged countries to “deliver the kind of meaningful climate action that people and planet so desperately need,” adding that there was “no time for finger pointing.” The negotiation situation was so fragile that the Shoukry kept countries’ chief officials in hours-long sessions Thursday afternoon and evening to try to get things moving. So far it hasn’t quite worked.

During a break from those sessions, Norwegian chief negotiator Henrik Hallgrim Eriksen summed it up this way: “We have a lot of work to do. It’s not in shape. It will take quite a lot of work to have it in good shape. It’s very long. And it’s not well structured.”

Speaking to The Associated Press, Seve Paeniu, finance minister of Tuvalu, expressed concern at the length of the draft, which he noted the Egyptian presidency put forward with less than 48 hours left on the clock.

Negotiators were also surprised by ideas in the Egyptian draft that were never discussed at the two-week talks.

Among them was a call for developed countries to achieve “net-negative carbon emissions by 2030” — a far tougher target than any major nation has so far committed to and which would be very hard to achieve. The EU and U.S., for example, have said they aim to reach net zero emissions by 2050, China by 2060.

The head of the European Parliament at the U.N. climate conference described the document as “a bit of wish list” with “all the topics” thrown in.

Bas Eirkhout said it was “too broad, too many topics, too vague language and too many items, which I don’t think have to be in a cover decision.”

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 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,” Timmermans, 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.

There are at least half a dozen instances where nations are “taking negotiations hostage” by taking hardline, seemingly inflexible stances, Meyer said. The biggest is on a compensation fund for climate disasters, known as “loss and damage” in negotiators’ parlance.

“Waiting for the next COP or even COP29 is not an option for us. We’re not walking away without this fund,” Marshall Islands climate envoy Kathy Jetn