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climate negotiations on the brink

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COP27 negotiations in Egypt appeared on the verge of collapse on Saturday morning after bitter overnight talks, with the European Union saying it was ready to walk away without a deal rather than agree “bad deal” assuming a challenge “unacceptable” commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Rather disagree than a bad agreement”Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans told the press. “We are concerned about some of the things we have seen and heard over the past 12 hours”he said, adding that the objective of the Europeans was to keep ” urge “ the warming limit of 1.5°C, the most ambitious objective of the Paris agreement.

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“At this stage, the Egyptian presidency calls into question the achievements of Paris and Glasgow on the reduction in emissions. This is unacceptable for France and the countries of the EU”we said shortly before in the entourage of the French Minister for Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher.

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A cornerstone of the fight against climate change, the 2015 Paris Agreement aims to limit global warming “significantly below 2°C” compared to the pre-industrial era, and if possible at 1.5°C. This ambition was reaffirmed at COP26 in Glasgow last year.

“Balanced” proposals

The Egyptian presidency defended itself, stating that the ” large majority “ countries finds the proposals “balanced”. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri blamed the parties on their responsibilities, calling for the “flexibility” and indicating that he was going to consult the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, present in Sharm el-Sheikh.

This 27th international climate conference has been extended by at least one day in the absence of agreement on several contentious points.

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Negotiators from nearly 200 countries gathered in the seaside resort of Sharm el-Sheikh tried to make progress all night long on the most difficult points, such as the fate of fossil fuels or compensation for the damage already caused by climate change, them “loss and damage”.

Valérie Masson-Delmotte, climate watch

The Egyptian presidency, criticized for the delay in these complex climate negotiations under the aegis of the UN, had promised Friday, the theoretical day of the end of the negotiations, to take things in hand.

“We can’t afford to have so many negotiation topics that remain unresolved until the next COP”had estimated Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, of the WWF.

The complex issue of “loss and damage”

In addition to the nocturnal clashes over the limit of the increase in the average temperature of the planet compared to the pre-industrial era, one of the most complex questions remains that of the “loss and damage”.

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This subject of the damage already caused by climate change is more than ever at the center of the debates after the historic floods that hit Pakistan and Nigeria, and for which developing countries are calling for a dedicated fund.

On this point, timid progress has however been made. The “facilitators” of this issue at the center of North-South frictions have published a motion for a resolution on the issue, with three options, one of which acts on the principle of creating a fund, the exact operation of which will then be determined.

Option considered acceptable on Friday “with some changes” by Sherry Rehman, Pakistani Minister for Climate Change and current chair of the powerful G77+China negotiating group, which includes more than 130 countries.

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Towards an uncontrollable runaway?

The rich countries had for years been very reluctant to the idea of ​​specific funding, but the European Union made an overture on Thursday by accepting the principle of a “Loss and Damage Response Fund”reserved for “more vulnerable” on a “expanded base of contributors”implying to China, which has become considerably richer in thirty years.

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The European offer was hailed as “a major concession and breakthrough” by Seve Paeniu, Minister of Finance of the small peaceful archipelago of Tuvalu, threatened by rising waters. But neither China nor the United States made their position known immediately.

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The future of fossil fuels, whose use since the industrial revolution is essentially responsible for global warming, is also the subject of intense negotiations. A final draft text published by the Egyptian presidency does not mark any progress on this point, even if it underlines for the first time the need to accelerate in renewable energies.

The current commitments of the various countries are far from enabling the 1.5°C objective to be met. According to UN analyses, they allow at best to limit warming to 2.4°C by the end of the century, leading humanity towards the risk that irreversible tipping points will be reached and cause an uncontrollable runaway of climate change.

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