Britain suggests climate funding plan as UN negotiators go into overtime
Nov. 13, 2021
Negotiators took the two-week U.N. climate talks in Scotland into an extra day on Saturday, wrestling with a fresh draft of an agreement intended to give the world a realistic shot at avoiding the worst effects of global warming.
Alok Sharma, the British conference president, said he expected COP26 to close on Saturday afternoon with a deal between the almost 200 countries present, ranging from coal- and gas-fuelled superpowers to oil producers and Pacific islands being swallowed by the rise in sea levels.
Like earlier versions, the latest draft attempted to balance the demands of climate-vulnerable nations, big industrial powers, and those whose consumption or exports of fossil fuels are vital to their economic development.
Britain tried to unblock one of the thorniest issues by proposing mechanisms to ensure that the poorest nations finally get more of the financial help they have been promised to prepare for and manage increasingly frequent extreme weather.
China, the biggest current emitter of the greenhouse gases responsible for manmade global warming, and Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, were seeking to prevent the final deal including language that opposes subsidies for fossil fuels, two sources told Reuters on Friday.
However, Saturday’s draft, published by the United Nations, continued to single out fossil fuels – something no U.N. climate conference conclusion has yet succeeded in doing.
It also urged rich countries to double finance for climate adaptation by 2025 from 2019 levels, offering funding that has been a key demand of small island nations at the conference.
‘KEEPING 1.5 ALIVE’
Developing countries want to ensure that rich nations, whose historical emissions are largely responsible for heating up the planet, pay more to help them adapt to its consequences.
Adaptation funds primarily go to the very poorest countries and currently take up only a small fraction of climate funding.
Britain also said a U.N. committee should report next year on progress towards delivering the $100 billion in overall annual climate funding that rich nations had promised by 2020 but failed to deliver, and that governments should meet in 2022, 2024 and 2026 to discuss climate finance. read more
Scientists say that to go beyond that limit would unleash extreme sea level rise and catastrophes including crippling droughts, monstrous storms and wildfires far worse than those the world is already suffering.
But national emissions-cutting pledges made so far would cap the average global temperature rise at only 2.4 Celsius. While there is little chance of that gap being closed in Glasgow, Sharma said he hoped the final deal would pave the way for deeper cuts.
Liberian Nellie Dokie, 37, who lives in Glasgow and has been making a daily two-hour trip to cook for conference delegates, ventured her first peep into the main conference area on Saturday before delegates began a noon stock-taking session.
“I want to be a part of history,” she said. “I played a small part.”
‘WAIT AND SEE’
U.S. climate envoy John Kerry also struck a positive note when asked late Friday whether he agreed with climate campaigner Greta Thunberg that COP26 was a “festival for ‘business as usual'”.
“Obviously I don’t agree,” he replied, “and I think you will see that when you see what happens.”
Kerry helped to revive flagging hopes for the conference when he and Chinese negotiator Xie Zhenhua on Thursday announced the countries would boost efforts to preserve forests, needed to soak up and hold in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and to cut output of the second-most important greenhouse gas, methane.
The White House said on Friday that U.S. President Joe Biden, who has succeeded in pushing $555 billion in climate measures through Congress in a post-pandemic recovery programme, will hold a virtual meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Monday night, U.S. time.
The newest draft of what many hope will be the final Glasgow agreement retained a significant demand for nations to set tougher climate pledges next year, rather than every five years, as they are currently required to do.
The European Union and Italy were drawing up a proposal to use Special Drawing Rights provided by the International Monetary Fund to help make sure the target of $100 billion in climate finance is met next year, an EU official said.
But $100 billion a year is far short of poorer countries’ actual needs, which could hit $300 billion a year by 2030 in adaptation costs alone, according to the United Nations, in addition to economic losses from crop failure or climate-related disasters.