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In the race for final agreement, COP27 close to making headway on climate finance

On Saturday, countries were debating a draught for a final COP27 climate deal, with some negotiators claiming they were close to a breakthrough in contentious efforts to compensate impoverished nations already burdened by costly climate impacts.

Hours earlier, officials from the European Union’s 27 member states indicated they were prepared to leave the discussions if the agreement did not progress efforts to combat global warming by demanding countries to take more aggressive steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

On Saturday, the United Nations Climate Change Agency produced a new draught of the so-called cover decision, although it was unclear whether all 197 states attending this year’s meeting would support it.

“We’d rather not make a choice than make a wrong decision,” said EU climate policy leader Frans Timmermans.

The conclusion of the two-week summit, which was supposed to end on Friday, is viewed as a litmus test for global will to combat climate change, even as a conflict in Europe and rampant consumer inflation divert international attention.

He voiced concern that certain countries were blocking efforts to reach an agreement on more aggressive carbon reduction this decade. He did not identify the countries.

On Saturday morning, with countries still divided on a number of crucial issues, Egypt’s COP27 President Sameh Shoukry urged delegates to “rise to the occasion” and unite around a final agreement.

The most recent draught is not the final version since it includes a placeholder for funding arrangements for “loss and damage” – the money required by impoverished countries suffering damage from climate-related calamities such as floods, drought, and sea-level rise.

Countries, though, indicated they were close to reaching an agreement on establishing such a fund, and the United Nations climate agency produced a different draught of that text, which many negotiators said was largely accepted. Kunal Satyarthi, an Indian negotiator, said the loss and damage agreement would “definitely” pass and hailed other countries for their flexibility.

Meanwhile, Norway’s climate minister, Espen Barth Eide, said his country was pleased with the agreement to establish a loss and damage fund. Avinash Persaud, a negotiator from Barbados, called it a “little win for humanity” that stemmed from small island nations’ leadership and global cooperation.

“We must now redouble our efforts to support an energy, transportation, and agriculture transformation that will prevent future climate losses and damages,” added Persaud. The concept of a loss and damage fund has been considered for decades, but it has never been on the formal agenda of a climate summit due to concerns that it would expose rich countries to accountability for their historic contribution to emissions.

Earlier this week, the EU strengthened the discussions by promising to support the establishment of a new loss and damage fund, but only if major polluters, including China, contribute to it and countries increase their efforts to reduce emissions. It was unclear whether the EU’s demands would be met.

To make matters worse, US Special Climate Envoy John Kerry, a prominent force in climate diplomacy, tested positive for COVID-19 after days of bilateral in-person talks with counterparts ranging from China and the EU to Brazil and the UAE. The proposal, like previous draughts, did not include a reference to phasing out “all fossil fuels,” as desired by India and other delegations. It instead requested that countries only phase out coal, as agreed upon in last year’s Glasgow Climate Pact.

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  • In the race for final agreement, COP27 close to making headway on climate finance
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