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SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — Negotiators at U.N. climate talks in Egypt say they have struck a potential breakthrough deal on the creation of a fund for compensating poor nations that are the most vulnerable to climate change, called ‘loss and damage.’
“There is an agreement on loss and damage,” Maldives Environment Minister Aminath Shauna told The Associated Press Saturday. “That means for countries like ours we will have the mosaic of solutions that we have been advocating for.”
It still needs to be approved unanimously in a vote later today.
Saturday afternoon’s draft proposal came from the Egyptian presidency.
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Two separate drafts released by the Egyptian presidency, on efforts to step up emissions cuts and the overarching decision of this year’s talks, barely build on what was agreed in Glasgow last year.
The texts leave in place a reference to the Paris accords goal of limiting global warming to “well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit)” which scientists say is far too risky.
They also don’t suggest any new short-term targets for either developing or developed countries, which experts say are needed to achieve the more ambitious 1.5 C (2.7 F) goal that would prevent some of the more extreme effects of climate change.
A new proposal on the issue of loss and damage that calls for the creation of a new fund to help developing countries hit by climate disasters said developed countries would be “urged” to contribute to the fund, which would also draw on other private and public sources of money such as international financial institutions.
However, the proposal does not suggest that major emerging economies such as China have to contribute to the fund, which was a key ask of the European Union and the United States.
It also does not tie the creation of the new fund to any increase in efforts to cut emissions, or restrict the recipients of funding to those countries that are most vulnerable.
Alok Sharma, the British official who chaired last year’s climate talks in Glasgow, declined to comment on criticism of the Egyptian presidency, but made clear that an ambitious outcome to combat climate change was crucial.
“Every presidency runs things in their own way,” he said. “The key issue for me and for the UK is that what we have here at the end of the day is a balanced and ambitious text across all the key pillars,” he said.
“For us it’s also vitally important to not just preserve what we agreed in Glasgow but that we build on that as well,” said Sharma, referring to the recommitment made last year to limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) and a pledge to increase efforts to slash emissions cuts.
Spain’s environment minister said they are willing to walk out if they can’t reach a fair deal at the U.N. climate talks.
“We could be exiting of course,” said Teresa Ribera. “We won’t be part of a result that we find unfair and not effective to address the problem that we are handling, which is climate change and the need to reduce emissions.”
Ribera said she is “concerned” that a draft of the final document may not include a mention of the 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) warming limit target set in Paris in 2015.
She added she didn’t want to see a result “that may backtrack what we already did in Glasgow,” referring to the renewed commitment to the 1.5 C goal at the climate summit last year.
“That’s something that we’d like to see, that there is a strong commitment to the 1.5 target,” said Teresa Ribera.
On the role of the presidency, Ribera said that the process has been “very confusing.”
“It is not clear … and we are running out of time,” she said.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said parties must now “rise to the occasion” in a news conference Saturday morning.
“The issue now rests with the will of the parties,” Shoukry said at a press conference. “It is the parties who must rise to the occasion and take upon themselves the responsibility of finding the areas of convergence and moving forward.”
On a new draft text for the overarching decision at the conference, which was being worked on overnight, Shoukry said that “a vast majority of the parties indicated to me that they considered the text as balanced and that they constitute a potential breakthrough that can lead to consensus.”
He added that “all must show the necessary flexibility” in reaching a consensus, and that Egypt was merely “facilitating this process.”
New Zealand’s climate minister has said a draft of the final document circulated by the presidency “has been received quite poorly by pretty much everybody,” adding that delegations are going into another round of talks.
Speaking to The Associated Press, James Shaw called the draft “entirely unsatisfactory.”
He added that the proposal “abandons really any hope of achieving 1.5 (degrees Celsius, 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit),” referring to the warming limit agreed at the Paris agreement back in 2015.
He said parties will continue to work on the issue as well as look to reach consensus on a loss and damage fund for developing nations who are suffering from the impacts of climate change.
“Everybody wants an outcome on loss and damage and everybody wants to keep 1.5 alive. So that’s what we’re going to keep doing,” he said.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock says that responsibility for the fat of the U.N. climate talks “now lies in the hands of the Egyptian COP presidency.”
She said the European Union had made clear overnight that “we will not sign a paper here that diverges significantly from the 1.5 C path, that would bury the goal of 1.5 degrees.”
“If these climate conferences set us back then we wouldn’t have needed to travel here in the first place,” she said.
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