As talks at the COP27 climate summit in the Egyptian seaside resort of Sharm el Sheikh enter the final stretch, negotiators from nearly 200 countries are scrambling to turn a draft deal into something they can agree on.
“I think it’s going to be a long and difficult journey,” EU climate chief Frans Timmermans said during a press conference in Sharm el Sheikh on Thursday (17 November).
The Egyptian presidency on Thursday published a 20-page first draft agreement. It largely stuck to last year’s commitment made at the climate summit in Glasgow to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
It also repeated last year’s pledge to “accelerate measures towards the phase down of unabated coal power” and phase out fossil-fuel subsidies.
But it did not extend it to oil and gas, for which India had pushed and had received backing from the US and the EU.
“The text still needs a tremendous amount of work. We are not in a position to say that this is enough common ground that we could agree upon,” Timmermans said.
“We really would like to see steps towards phasing out fossil fuels,” Dutch Green MEP Bas Eickhout, who represented the EU parliament at the summit, said. “We have not come to Sharm el Sheikh to reconfirm Glasgow. We have come here to move further than Glasgow.”
Discussions will continue until the end of Friday, but many expect the summit to extend into the weekend.
“If this COP fails, we all lose. And we have no time to lose,” Timmermans also said, calling on other nations to be open to compromise.
But another contentious issue is how to provide financial support for countries hit by climate disasters, which is blocking swift agreement.
Some of the leaders of countries most vulnerable to the climate crisis, including many African countries, island nations and Pakistan, which suffered a devastating flood this year, have come with hopes rich countries would agree to a so-called ‘loss and damage’ package.
The EU already announced on Wednesday that it would provide over €1bn for climate adaptation in Africa.
Some welcomed the new funds, while others pointed out that rich countries still need to fulfil their 2015 pledge to provide $100 billion a year in climate financing by 2020.
“If we can’t agree on loss and damage, then I think this COP will not be a successful COP,” Pakistan’s ambassador Nabeel Munir, lead negotiator for the G77 group of countries, said.
Timmermans said on Thursday the EU was willing to discuss a new loss and damage fund but was not ready to launch one at COP27.