AP

Crunch time for UN climate talks as Friday deadline looms

Nov 18, 2022, 6:51 AM | Updated: 9:03 am

Climate activist Mitzi Jonelle Tan, center, of the Philippines, hands say "pay up" as she and other...

Climate activist Mitzi Jonelle Tan, center, of the Philippines, hands say "pay up" as she and others take part in a protest at the COP27 U.N. Climate Summit, Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

(AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) —

An impassioned plea for climate justice and compensation for vulnerable nations from a 10-year-old Ghanaian activist moved staid and stalled diplomats to their feet Friday.

Nakeeyat Dramani Sam scolded delegates at this year’s U.N. climate talks, saying they would act faster to rein in global warming if they were her age.

“It is an emergency,” she told negotiators, holding a sign that read “Payment Due”. “If all of you were to be young people like me, wouldn’t you have already agreed to do what is needed to save our planet? Should we let the youth take over? Maybe only the youth delegation should be at the next” United Nations climate summit.

But after her standing ovation, it was back to nations squabbling over several thorny issues, with the Egyptian presidency acknowledging that the talks will go into overtime on Saturday, if not longer.

“Time is not on our side,” said Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. Speaking as the summit’s chair, he pledged to try to find common ground on key issues Friday and Saturday. “The global community is looking to us to be bold and ambitious.”

The biggest fight is over what the 10-year-old activist and author alluded to. Nations are split over a few competing options on the issue called “loss and damage,” or rich polluting nations helping pay for climate damage done to poor nations. Pakistan’s climate minister, Sherry Rehman, told her fellow negotiators that two of the proposed options that don’t immediately provide a fund “are not tenable” for the 77 poorest nations and China.

A new draft cover decision from the Egyptian presidency came out Friday morning, half the size of Thursday’s 20-page document that was criticized for being vague and bloated. But this new 10-page one still has little new compared to previous years and plenty of places with yet-to-be-decided options. And some of the most talked about proposals, from the European Union, Barbados and India aren’t in it, reflecting the Egyptian presidency’s priorities.

The EU made a surprise proposal late Thursday that called for the creation of a fund for “loss and damage” payments to the most vulnerable nations, an idea long resisted by some rich countries in Europe and the United States. But it would also require emerging economies such as China, the second biggest polluter after the U.S., to contribute and ties any deal to tougher emissions cuts.

“We’re making clear that Europe is on the side of the most vulnerable states,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said. “Others can now show which side they are on.”

In climate negotiations, loss and damage refers to the idea that rich nations, which have historically done the most to contribute to climate change, should compensate developing countries most impacted.

The EU proposal would also require stepped up efforts on “mitigation,” the term used for work to slow global warming, like drastically reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. It also adopts a call to phase down all fossil fuels — a measure first proposed by India and a dramatic step up from previous commitments to just phase down coal.

Unless emissions are reduced more steeply, “no money in the world could pay for the damages and losses of the future,” Baerbock said.

EU climate chief Frans Timmermans said Friday that the bloc’s proposal on funding for loss and damage and mitigation is “a final offer” that seeks to “find a compromise” between countries as negotiators work out a way forward at the United Nations climate talks in Egypt.

Antigua and Barbuda’s environment minister says they have concerns about the EU proposal. Molwyn Joseph, who spoke on behalf of small island sates, said there are parts of the EU’s proposal that need “adjusting,” without offering more details.

“We need an agreement at COP right now. That’s what we need, an agreement among all the parties,” he said, adding there is a “strong possibility” to achieve an agreement on loss and damage funding by Saturday.

The environmental advocacy group Action Aid called the proposal a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” because it doesn’t go far enough

The EU plan is a counter to a proposal made by China and a group of vulnerable nations known as the G77, which would create a fund but only require developed nations to contribute, excepting top polluters China and India.

China, which had been quiet during much of the talks, and Saudi Arabia both said the money for a loss and damage fund shouldn’t come from them. Developed countries should foot the bill, China said. Both also insisted that the 2015 Paris Agreement that aims to limit global warming to an ambitious 1.5 Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) increase should not be altered, which can be interpreted as not strengthening efforts.

As for the United States, there was “a deafening silence” after the EU revealed their proposal, said Preety Bhandari, senior adviser on climate finance at the World Resources Institute. “So I assume overnight and during the course of the day there will be a lot of diplomatic outreach across various parties to finally help us land the decision on funding for loss and damage here at COP27.”

The EU plan is far from the only proposal.

Former Irish President Mary Robinson, chair of The Elders, a group of retired leaders, praised the three options on loss and damage that German climate envoy Jennifer Morgan and Chilean Environment Minister Maisa Rojas have been hammering out, saying “it puts us on the cusp of a historic breakthrough. We’ve gone from not even having loss and damage finance on the agenda at COP27 to having a fund, a mechanism, and a flow of finance all within our grasp.”

Friday’s draft from the Egyptian presidency includes some vague references to reform to multilateral development banks but did not include or make reference to the detailed Bridgetown Initiative on financial reform from Barbados and its Prime Minister Mia Mottley.

Also missing is a controversial proposal by India to change the Glasgow pact language that calls for a phase down of coal to a phase down of all fossil fuels, including oil and natural gas. Egypt has dramatically ramped up natural gas production from newly discovered fields in recent years and is a close ally of fossil-fuel powers Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The idea behind expanding the language to all fossil fuels is that a coal-only phase down hurts mostly developing nations, while this attacks the problem of emissions more directly and across the board, according to longtime negotiations analyst Alden Meyer of the think tank E3G.

___

Samy Magdy, Frank Jordans and Olivia Zhang contributed to this report.

___

Follow AP’s climate and environment coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/climate-and-environment

___

Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

The U.S. Supreme Court is seen, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, in Washington. The U.S. Supreme Court has h...

Associated Press

Supreme Court decision on Trump’s election status could come Monday morning

A SCOTUS decision could come Monday in the case about whether Trump can be kicked off the ballot over his efforts to undo his 2020 defeat.

13 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley poses for a selfie after speakin...

Associated Press

Nikki Haley wins D.C. Republican primary, her first 2024 victory

Nikki Haley has won the Republican primary in the District of Columbia, notching her first victory of the 2024 campaign.

14 hours ago

An Apache group that has fought to protect land it considers sacred from a copper mining project in...

Associated Press

A US appeals court ruling could allow mine development in central Arizona on land sacred to Apaches

An Apache group that has fought to protect land from a copper mining project in central Arizona suffered a significant blow.

18 hours ago

On Friday, March 1, 2024, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said yogurt sold in the U.S. can ma...

Associated Press

Eating yogurt may reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, FDA says

Eating at least two cups of yogurt a week might reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.

20 hours ago

Arizona will not approve new housing construction on the fast-growing edges of metro Phoenix that r...

Associated Press

Arizona Senate passes plan to manage rural groundwater, but final success is uncertain

A plan to manage rural groundwater passed the Arizona Senate amid concerns about the availability of sufficient water for future generations.

3 days ago

A woman pauses while shopping at a Kohl's store in Clifton, N.J., Jan. 26, 2024. On Thursday, Feb. ...

Associated Press

Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge picked up last month in sign of still-elevated prices

An inflation gauge favored by the Federal Reserve increased in January, the latest sign that the slowdown in U.S. consumer price increases is occurring unevenly from month to month.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

...

Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Crunch time for UN climate talks as Friday deadline looms