The U.N. climate agency on Saturday published an updated draft of a proposed final agreement for the COP27 summit, fleshing out some key parts of the deal countries are struggling to reach.
The document, which forms the overall political deal for COP27, would need approval from the nearly 200 countries at the climate summit in Egypt. Negotiators will spend the next few hours studying the texts and deciding whether they can back them.
The so-called ‘cover decision’ sits alongside a host of other agreements still subject to intense negotiation a day after the summit was due to have closed.
The draft contained only a partial text on the contentious issue of “loss and damage” payments to countries hit by climate-driven disasters. It left a placeholder in the section for funding arrangements on loss and damage where text could be added later if countries reach agreement.
In line with earlier iterations, the draft did not contain a reference requested by India and some other delegations to phasing down use of “all fossil fuels”. It instead referred to a phase down of coal only, as agreed at last year’s summit.
In an attempt to close the yawning gap between current climate pledges and the far deeper cuts needed to avert disastrous climate change, the draft requests that countries which have not yet done so upgrade their 2030 emissions cutting targets by the end of 2023.
Earlier, the European Union warned it was prepared to walk away from climate negotiations if a satisfactory outcome could not be reached, but said it still believed a deal could be struck on Saturday between negotiators at the COP27 summit in Egypt.
“We need to move forward, not backwards and all (EU) ministers … are prepared to walk away if we do not have a result that does justice to what the world is waiting for – namely that we do something about this climate crisis,”said EU climate policy chief Frans Timmermans.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the summit, he called on other parties to the negotiations to reciprocate efforts to find a deal, particularlyon the issue of funding for poorer countries hit by climate disasters.
“We believe that a positive result today is still within reach. But we are worried about some of the things we have seen and heard over the last, let’s say, 12 hours,” he said.
“We’d rather have no decision than a bad decision.”
Negotiators were poised to make a final push for a deal at the COP27 climate talks in Egypt on Saturday, as persistent disagreements over money forced the two-week talks into overtime.
Complicating matters, U.S. Special Climate Envoy John Kerry – a powerful force in climate diplomacy – tested positive for COVID-19 following days of bilateral in-person meetings with counterparts from China and the European Union to Brazil and the United Arab Emirates.
The outcome of the conference, which was meant to end on Friday, is widely seen as a test of global resolve to fight climate change, as a war in Europe and rampant consumer inflation distract international attention.
An official draft of the agreement released Friday morning reaffirmed past commitments to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius – the point at which scientists say the effects of climate change will get much worse.
But it left crucial issues unresolved, including the main sticking point between rich and poor nations of how to compensate countries already ravaged by climate-driven floods, droughts, mega-storms and wildfires.
In a potential breakthrough, the European Union said late on Thursday it would back the demand of the G77 group of 134 developing countries to set up a fund to help them cope with so-called “loss and damage”.
But it was unclear on Friday whether developing countries would accept the EU’s stipulation that the funding come from a broad base of countries including China, and that only “the most vulnerable countries” benefit from the aid.
Delegates were still waiting to learn how the United States and China would respond.
Some countries, including the EU and Britain, have also pushed for the overall deal in Egypt to lock in country commitments for more ambitious climate action.
Others, including India, are hoping the final deal asks countries to phase down all fossil fuel use, instead of just coal – an idea that resource-rich countries, especially in Africa, have resisted.
A deal at COP27 must be made with support from all of the nearly 200 countries present.
(Reporting by Shadia Nasralla, Valerie Volcovici, and Jake Spring; Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Daniel Wallis)