Key unresolved climate issues as UN talks near midpoint

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — As the UN climate talks in Egypt near halfway through, negotiators are working hard to craft agreements on a wide range of issues to take to ministers next week in the hope of securing a substantial agreement. result at the end.

The two-week meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh began with strong calls from world leaders to redouble efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help poor countries cope with global warming.

Scientists say the amount of greenhouse gases pumped into the atmosphere must be halved by 2030 to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement. The 2015 pact set the goal of ideally limiting temperature rise to 1.5 Celsius by the end of the century, but left it up to countries to decide how they want to do this.

With the impacts of climate change already being felt around the world, especially by the world’s poorest, activists and developing countries have also pushed wealthy polluters to hoard more money. This would be used to help developing countries transition to clean energy and adapt to global warming; Increasingly, there are also calls for compensation to pay for climate-related losses.

Here is an overview of the main issues on the table during the COP27 talks and how they could be reflected in a final agreement.

KEEP COOL

The hosts of last year’s talks in Glasgow said they succeeded in “keeping the 1.5 alive”, including getting countries to endorse the target in the outcome document. But UN chief Antonio Guterres warned the temperature target is on life support “and the machines are clicking”. And campaigners were disappointed that this year’s agenda did not explicitly cite the threshold after some major oil and gas exporters pulled back. The chair of the talks, Egypt, can still convene talks to include it in the final deal.

EMISSION REDUCTION

Negotiators are trying to craft a work program on mitigation that would encompass the various measures that countries have committed to reduce emissions, including for specific sectors such as energy and transport. Many of these commitments are not formally part of the UN process, which means they cannot be easily reviewed at the annual meeting. A proposed draft agreement circulated early Saturday had more than 200 brackets, meaning large sections remained unresolved. Some countries want the plan to be valid for only one year, while others say a longer-term roadmap is needed. Expect fireworks in the coming days.

AVOIDING FOSSIL FUELS

Last year’s meeting nearly collapsed over a demand to explicitly state in the final agreement that coal should be phased out. In the end, the countries agreed on several shortcomings, and climate activists fear that negotiators from countries heavily dependent on fossil fuels for their energy needs or as income might try to renege on previous commitments.

MONEY MATTERS

Rich countries have failed to deliver on their promise to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 in climate finance for poor countries. This has opened up a rift of mistrust that negotiators hope to fill with new commitments.

But the needs are increasing and a new, higher target must be set from 2025.

COMPENSATION

The subject of climate compensation was once considered taboo, due to concerns from rich countries that they might be liable for large sums. But intense pressure from developing countries forced the issue of “loss and damage” onto the formal agenda of the talks for the first time this year. It remains to be seen whether there will be an agreement to promote other technical work or the creation of a real fund. This could become a key flashpoint in the talks.

MORE DONORS

One way to raise additional funds and resolve the thorny issue of paying polluters would be for countries that have experienced economic booms over the past three decades to step up. The main focus is on China, the world’s largest emitter, but others could also be asked to open their wallets. Broadening the donor base is not formally on the agenda, but developed countries want to be reassured about this in the final texts.

CASH CONSTRAINTS

Countries like Britain and Germany want all financial flows to align with the long-term goals of the Paris agreement. Other nations oppose such a rule, fearing that money will be withheld if they do not meet strict targets. But there are rumors the issue could gain wider support next week if it helps unlock other areas of the negotiations.

SECONDARY OFFERS

Last year’s meeting saw a series of signed agreements that were not officially part of the talks. Some have also been unveiled in Egypt, although hopes for a series of announcements about so-called Just Transition Partnerships – where developed countries help poorer countries wean themselves off fossil fuels – are unlikely to bear fruit. their fruits only after COP27.

HOPE UNTIL THE END

Jennifer Morgan, a former Greenpeace director who recently became Germany’s climate envoy, described this year’s talks as “difficult”.

“But I can promise you that we will work until the very last second to make sure we can achieve an ambitious and fair outcome,” she said. “We aim for the stars while keeping our feet on the ground.

Teresa H. Sadler