The outcome of the two-week summit in the resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh is proof of the world’s resolve to fight global warming, even as a war in Europe and rampant consumer inflation distract international attention.
A COP27 draft agreement released on Saturday reaffirmed earlier commitments to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid the worst of climate change, but offered little evidence of increased ambition to make the emissions cuts needed to achieve that goal.
Days of tense negotiations between rich and developing nations at the summit resulted in a proposal on Saturday to set up a fund to benefit countries facing irreparable damage from severe storms, floods, droughts and wildfires.
Rich countries, including the United States and those in Europe, have resisted the idea of a so-called loss and damage fund for decades, fearing it would expose them to legal liability for their historic greenhouse gas emissions.
Barbados negotiator Avinash Persaud called the proposal a “small victory for humanity” that resulted from the leadership of small island nations and solidarity from the rest of the world that recognizes the growing impacts of warming.
“Now we need to redouble efforts behind an energy, transport and agriculture transition that will limit these climate losses and damages in the future,” Persaud said, referring to a shift towards cleaner forms of energy and sustainable agriculture.
Negotiators said the idea had won broad support but would need to be matched by greater ambition to cut the emissions that are driving global warming.
“It is not acceptable that we finance the consequences of climate change without committing to work on the real consequences of emissions,” said Romina Pourmokhtari, Sweden’s climate minister.
China and the United States, the two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, have so far been silent on the proposal.
The EU had jump-started discussions earlier in the week by offering to support the loss and damage fund, as long as big polluters, including China, pay up and countries also step up efforts to cut emissions.
It was not yet clear whether the EU conditions would be met.
The draft COP27 agreement released by the UN climate office on Saturday, for example, did not contain a reference requested by India and the EU to phase out the use of “all fossil fuels”. Instead, he called on countries to phase out only coal, the most polluting fossil fuel, as agreed in last year’s Glasgow Climate Pact.
“That’s certainly a disappointment, given the importance of doing it with all fossil fuels to stay below 1.5°C,” said David Waskow, international climate director at the World Resources Institute.
The EU renewed its request to add the language in the negotiations on Saturday night, according to a source familiar with the matter. Oil and gas-rich countries in Africa and the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, have opposed the idea.
In an attempt to close the yawning gap between current climate pledges and the much deeper cuts needed to avoid disastrous climate change, the draft also called for countries that have not yet done so to improve their 2030 emissions reduction targets to end of 2023.
But some negotiators are keen to see the draft require updates not just next year, but every year for the rest of the decade to ensure emissions decline as fast as scientists say necessary to avoid the worst impacts of change. climate.
Some campaigners said the draft offered some positive elements but still lacked ambition.
To complicate matters, US climate special envoy John Kerry, a powerful force in climate diplomacy, tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday after days of face-to-face bilateral meetings with counterparts from China, the EU and others.
Kerry was unable to attend negotiations in person on Saturday, but participated in bilateral negotiations by videophone, the US State Department said.