EGYPT: Last night at crucial United Nations climate change conference (COP27) the world’s poorest nations were poised to achieve history as wealthy nations appeared ready to help those affected by extreme weather finally.
For over a decade, developing nations have requested aid with “loss and damage,” or financial support to rescue and reconstruct affected nations following a climate-related calamity.
But wealthy nations have so far refused, giving poor nations limited financial aid to assist them in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and constructing defenses against extreme weather.
While the COP27 UN climate meeting in Egypt continued well past the deadline set by delegates on Friday, a settlement remained dubious.
It now appears certain in some form, though, as the EU, US, UK, and other affluent nations had all reached an understanding in principle by the middle of the evening that a funding facility for loss and damage should be established.
In Sharm el-Sheikh, it was a day marked by intense drama and hostilities between wealthy and developing countries.
The wealthy world was criticized by some of the world’s poorest nations for taking so long to act and for refusing to provide financial aid to affected nations.
Rich nations attempted to make the case that oil-producing nations like Saudi Arabia and other petro-states and fast-expanding economies like China should contribute rather than gain money to repair climate “loss and damage.”
Additionally, they want to make sure that the nations getting funding from the fund are those with the weakest economies, not those that are still classified as “developing” under the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The UK made a concerted effort throughout the day to maintain the global commitment established at COP26 in Glasgow last year to keep global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
Some countries, including Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and briefly China, had threatened to renege on this agreement by reducing the temperature objective and eliminating the Glasgow Agreement’s demand that governments revise their emission-reduction strategies annually.
Many wealthy and developing nations, who saw the Glasgow agreements as a minimum standard that should be improved rather than set back, found such unpicking intolerable.
The Egyptian hosts faced harsh criticism for their approach to negotiating, which involved showing individual drafts of the final text to chosen nations rather than allowing them to collaborate. It was “untransparent, unpredictable, and chaotic,” according to a veteran delegate.
There was also a rare instance of cooperation when the US and China suddenly resolved their diplomatic spat and resurrected a collaborative partnership, allowing the two largest emitters and economies in the world to work together to find ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Friday deadline of 6 p.m. local time was passed during the final marathon negotiation session, which went late into the night.
Workers tore down the cafes, kiosks, and pavilions, making it difficult to get food and drink as delegates hurried to hastily called-meetings.
Delegates occasionally appeared to be negotiating from various texts, and for extended periods, it was unclear what the process for trying to reach a consensus was.
There were worries that too many attendees were leaving early to catch flights, making it impossible for some negotiation teams to finish their sessions.
After oil-producing nations objected, it appeared as though the pledge to “phase down fossil fuels” might be lost.
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which governs the conference of the parties (Cop), stipulates that all decisions must be made by consensus.
It implies that a few nations can obstruct development, much to the dismay of the majority.
At COP27, there were reportedly more than 600 fossil fuel lobbyists in attendance. The United Arab Emirates, an oil producer, will host the Cop the following year. Meanwhile, many activists fear that it will result in an increased role for oil traders.