Nov. 19 (UPI) — World leaders worked late into Saturday at the COP27 U.N. climate summit in Egypt, and appeared close to drafting a deal after European Union ministers earlier threatened to walk out.
Negotiators said a potential breakthrough deal has been struck on the biggest sticking point — the creation of a “loss and damage” fund for compensating poor nations that are victims of extreme weather.
“There is an agreement on loss and damage,” Maldives Environment Minister Aminath Shauna told Euronews, while New Zealand Climate Minister James Shaw confirmed that both rich and poor countries are on board with the proposed deal.
The apparent agreement came as the two-week COP27 conference was on the verge of ending without a signature achievement.
“Halls are emptied, furniture is moved out, courtyards are quiet but discussions continue here [COP27]. Progress is being made but there’s more work to be done particularly on mitigation. We have to keep 1.5 alive,” Ireland’s climate and environment minister Eamon Ryan tweeted, along with pictures of empty meeting areas in the Egyptian resort town.
Ryan’s tweet referenced the global goal to limit the planet’s temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The biggest issue in the back-and-forth negotiations is the creation of a fund for compensating poorer nations that are victims of extreme weather worsened by carbon pollution created by wealthier nations.
European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans put forward the motion on Friday, agreeing to establish a loss and damage fund for the G77 group of developing countries, after wealthier nations, including the United States, stalled on the proposal.
European Union officials blamed China and Saudi Arabia for weakening the proposed deal.
The EU also demanded major countries increase efforts to cut down on greenhouse gasses and emissions by 2025 — a proposal that Timmermans described as a “package deal.”
“It must go hand-in-hand with higher ambition on emissions reductions,” he wrote on Twitter.
The issue is highlighted by the recent catastrophic flooding during the monsoon season in Pakistan, which had claimed more than 1,300 lives in September. Historic flooding has devastated the Middle Eastern nation for more than two months.
The two-week summit in the popular resort town on the Red Sea is at its end, after talks to make progress on tackling climate change. There have been fears that questions about who will ultimately pay for the proposed fund could cause talks to collapse without a deal.
Those fears were stoked when EU officials temporarily seemed poised to walk out of talks without a deal in hand.
“I think this is huge to have governments coming together to actually work out at least the first step of at least how to deal with the issue of loss and damage,” Alex Scott, a climate diplomacy expert at think tank E3G, told CNBC.
However, the developed nations have not kept a 2009 pledge to spend $100 billion a year in other climate aid to help their poorer neighbors.
At last year’s summit in Glasgow, officials warned that a $100 billion a year figure is not nearly enough. The IPCC estimates $2.4 trillion is needed annually for the energy sector alone until 2035 to limit global warming below the 1.5-degree-threshold to prevent catastrophic consequences.