Cop27 bulletin: Tensions finally surface

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The EU's Frans Timmermans makes his play in the Cop27 plenary, Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt (Pic: IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis)


At 11pm on the penultimate day of scheduled talks, political tensions finally surfaced in a plenary

The EU’s offer on loss and damage went down well with vulnerable countries and most other rich nations. China and Gulf states pushed back, while the US kept quiet.

Frans Timmermans set it out: the EU would support a new fund if it had a “broad donor base” and looked into innovative sources of finance like levies on aviation, shipping and fossil fuels.

Pakistan’s ambassador Nabeel Munir said it was “good news”.

The Maldives environment minister Shauna Aminath said she was “heartened by the good will in the room” and Barbados’ representative acknowledged the EU’s “movement”.

Resistance came from those Timmermans wants to put their hands in their pockets through his “broad donor base”.

China’s representative said “this is the time that we should implement the Paris Agreement and not the time to rewrite the convention”.

That’s a reference to the UNFCCC’s classification of developed and developing countries based on how rich they were in 1992.

Under the UN’s rules, the former are supposed to pay climate finance while the latter receive it.

But China has changed a lot since 1992. The average Chinese person is four times more polluting and 34 times richer.

Based on current and historic emissions and level of development, Gulf nations would be on the hook too.

On behalf of the Arab Group, the Saudi representative echoed China’s line on the convention, adding it was important to avoid “unfamiliar technologies and classifications and references and scopes”.

On the developed side, the EU was backed up by the Brits, Aussies, Norwegians and Swiss.

The US has been resolutely opposed to a loss and damage fund. Can it bend if China pays?

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Movement on mitigation

A new draft text on the “mitigation work programme” has been released which contains seven areas of disagreement in its five pages.

These are talks on how to structure talks on how to reduce emissions this decade and close the gap to 1.5C. It’s process-y, but it matters.

Developed and vulnerable countries want the talks to be long, strong and specific. India, China and others want the opposite.

Up for debate is whether to rule out the talks setting new targets or goals or calling for new NDC climate plans. And whether talks go on until 2024 or 2030.

India, China and co appear to have got their way in arguing that the list of sectors discussed should be a broad one – energy, industrial processes… – rather than narrowing it down to buildings, transport etc.

Saudi Arabia’s representative said in the plenary that talks should be a “focused exchange of views” and “the outcomes will be non-prescriptive, non-punitive, facilitative, respectful of national sovereignty and national circumstances and… will not result in new goals beyond those of the Paris Agreement”.

As always, the Climate Vulnerable Forum has the most to lose from a breakdown in talks. On their behalf, Ghana called last night for the text to be finalised. If it’s not, at least one of the eight years left this decade will be written off.

In brief…

Filibuster – Negotiators have told Climate Home the African Group of Negotiators repeatedly stalled discussions on a global goal on adaptation. This included a 45-minute discussion on whether to work from a PDF or Word document. Cop27 president Sameh Shoukry said the adaptation agenda was “still being held back on procedural matters”.

Spotted 👀 – John Kerry and Xie Zhenhua were pictured going into a bilateral meeting on Thursday evening. On Monday, Joe Biden and Xi Jinping empowered the two men to resume talks. Xie paid a surprise visit to a US-EU ministerial on methane on Thursday. Watch out for any joint communique.

Cop host, who’s next – The UAE will host Cop28 from 30 November to 12 December next year, according to a draft decision for approval in Sharm el-Sheikh. Eastern Europe is next in line. Lula’s opening for Brazil comes in 2025. Australia could follow.

Crunch time – With four days until a critical Energy Charter Treaty conference, the EU does not have a joint position on whether to ratify reforms, which allow members to end investment protections for fossil fuels. The European Commission negotiated the reforms and needs Council approval – but several member states plan to quit the treaty.

Sing for justice – Vanuatu is campaigning to get the International Court of Justice to produce a climate litigation toolkit. There’s a song. It is set to publish a draft resolution to the UN today, ahead of a general assembly vote on 14 December. It needs 97 nations, a simple majority, to pass.

Offset billionaire – Indian company Eki Energy’s shares shot up 10,000% in a year, taking the company’s valuation from $10m to $1bn. Eki’s success is tied to the offset market, mostly linked to solar and wind schemes, but its business model is built on dubious green claims, according to a Bloomberg investigation.

Africa emissions cuts – Implementing 37 measures across Africa, ranging from increasing EVs to reducing food waste and capturing methane from oil and gas, could cut the continent’s emissions by 55% by 2063, compared to 2019 levels, and prevent 800,000 premature deaths per year, according a report by the UN Environment Programme and the Climate & Clean Air Coalition.

Relatable – A press conference for parliamentarians from across Africa was delayed by 20 minutes after the speakers got lost on their way to the Cairo tent. Delegates have complained about confusing maps around the venue and there are security concerns about the official app.

Snooping worries – The UK delegation is using burner phones and avoiding charging by USB sockets as they are concerned about the Egyptian government spying on them, the Times of London reports.

Unleashing plagues – Melting glaciers could unleash more than a hundred thousand tonnes of microbes over the next 80 years, according to a study by Aberystwyth University. Based on “moderate warming” of 2-3C by 2100, a tide of microbes, including pathogens, could be released into downstream ecosystems.

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