Lines in the sand need redrawing to reach climate deal
As international climate talks in the Egyptian desert go into their final days, negotiators are trying to move key countries' lines in the sand on multiple issues, including compensation for climate disasters, phasing down all fossil fuel use and additional financial help for poor nations.
The final document from the annual U.N. climate gathering, known as COP27, is required to be unanimous. There are at least half a dozen instances where nations are "taking negotiations hostage" by taking hardline, seemingly inflexible stances, said Alden Meyer, a long-time negotiations observer at the think tank E3G.
And poor nations are about to complain publicly about the Egyptian presidency of the gathering and its "inaction" in a press conference early Thursday afternoon.
Spoilers have emerged on multiple fronts, including the U.S., Saudi Arabia and China, resisting reforms called for by developed and developing nations.
On the all-consuming question of providing money to countries hit by climate-related catastrophes — referred to as "loss and damage" in negotiators' parlance — the United States is resisting any suggestion that this should be labeled as compensation, let alone reparations, for decades of greenhouse gas emissions by industrialized nations.
Yet small island nations are talking about killing any deal if they don't get cash for the climate disasters they argue were brought on on by rich polluters.
Another big point of contention is who pays. European countries have backed calls by island nations for a "mosaic" of financial arrangements drawing on public and private sources of money. But there are big differences among negotiators over whether all big emitters should pay; heavy polluters China and India are arguing they should not have to contribute because they are still officially considered developing nations.
The issue of loss and damage is one of three financial aid pots discussed. Rich nations agreed in past conferences to spend $100 billion a year to help poorer countries for developing cleaner energy systems and adapting to prevent future disasters — though they have lagged in giving the funds.
Loss and damage is about paying the cost of climate impacts that are already inevitable, such as extreme weather events and rising sea levels. The 2015 Paris accord stated that the issue "does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation," but that option remains open under the broader U.N. climate framework that the annual negotiations take place in.
Some insiders say they are worried about not getting any kind of consensus on the issue, but aren't ready to give up hope.
Meanwhile, a "Lula lovefest" continued in Sharm el-Sheikh, as Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who in his past term made great strides in fighting deforestation, grabbed more attention during a session about youth activism and participation in government.
On Wednesday, crowds cheered him on, criticizing rich nations and calling for the climate summit to come to the Amazon. His predecessor is often criticized for lack of action on climate change.