COP27 Chaos over Mysterious Draft Text, Obscure President

(Bloomberg) — Diplomats from rich and poor countries, observers from non-profits and activists gathering in Egypt for the UN-sponsored climate talks are finding themselves in the unusual position of agreeing on something: This is chaos. There is a collective dismay among COP27 summit attendees about the status of the talks necessary to advance humanity’s fight against climate change as the summit draws to a close.

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Delegates in the Egyptian town of Sharm El-Sheikh woke up on Thursday, just a day before the official end of the meeting, to a 20-page document that gathered a wide range of proposals for the “covering decision,” the political statement that outlines the goals and commitments that all negotiating parties have supposed climate agreement.

The Presidency document confused the delegations and was considered a draft of the final declaration until Egyptian officials clarified that it was just a collection of ideas. Still, the document came out late in the process, lacked key demands from some countries and included statements that angered others, several delegates and observers told Bloomberg.

“This will be a long and difficult journey – I’m not sure where these talks will land,” European Commission climate chief Frans Timmermans told journalists in Sharm El-Sheikh on Thursday. “If this COP fails we will all lose, we have no time to lose.”

Broad statements ratified by nearly 200 nations that are part of the Conference of the Parties’ annual climate meeting serve as the basis for climate action around the world. In 2015 countries signed the Paris Agreement, pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to keep global warming below 2C or close to 1.5C by the end of the century, from pre-industrial times. Egypt’s COP27 presidency was not focused on an ambitious cover text and focused instead on “enforcement” of existing agreements — but there has been little progress there either.

“The first days are good as implementation days,” said Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Peru’s former environment minister and COP20 president in Lima, during a speech on the sidelines of COP27. “These are the last two days to make decisions – this COP has to deliver and we’re not seeing that yet.”

Throughout the conference, frustration with Egypt’s presidency grew after a slow first week plagued by fears of state surveillance and difficulties in finding food, water and accommodation. Although informal negotiations on the key issue of loss and damage began before the summit, other talks did not formally begin until earlier this week, with the presidency appointing pairs of ministers to negotiate key items much later than as usual.COP27 President and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt Sameh Shoukry was notably absent from the process publicly in press briefings and behind closed doors in meetings with ministers and delegations. Many delegates questioned Shoukry’s independent approach, as well as the Egyptian presidency’s lack of guidance and preparation before the meeting.

In a meeting with Shoukry on Thursday, COP26 President Alok Sharma, Timmermans and Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault emphasized the need to ensure that the outcome of COP27 is ambitious, according to a senior country official.

“Whatever circulation you may have seen is still a work in progress and I don’t think any conclusions should be reached,” Shoukry told the Bloomberg New Economy Forum via video link Thursday morning. “We are still in the process of considering how best to provide a coverage decision that responds to the interests of the parties and does not back track or break any previous commitments.”

To be sure, individual negotiating countries also have a responsibility, veteran COP observers said.

“It is clearly the decision of the Presidency to wait late in the game to go ahead with the cover text and engage the ministers,” said Alden Meyer, a senior member of E3G. “But part of the games other countries are playing – both developed and developing countries – in this process is to take negotiating hostages and hold their cards until the last minute.”

Inside the main hall of COP27, where the country’s delegates met on Thursday morning in the presence of observers, there was more anger at a presidency that greatly restricted the demonstrations that traditionally contributed to the COP meetings. Videos on social media showed hundreds of people standing up and clapping at the end of the plenary session – usually just a technical update on the negotiations – as they chanted “Free Alaa, free them all,” referring to the big activist say Alaa Abd el-Fattah and thousands of political prisoners languishing in Egyptian prisons without a proper trial.

Outside, hundreds of climate activists staged a sit-in and, in the largest demonstration seen at COP27 to date, called for climate justice and climate compensation.

“come on”

There were no references in the presidential text, a version of which is expected to be made into an official statement sometime this week, to phase down oil and gas as well as coal, a step that would be seen as a significant advance over the agreement of the last year i. Glasgow to phase out unabated coal power. The Indian-led push was supported by the EU, the UK and the US – as reported by Bloomberg News.

Developing nations proposing a compensation mechanism for the impacts of climate-induced extreme weather events — known as loss and damage — were concerned about the lack of references to a fund, facility or mechanism. in the text.

“We were promised an enforced COP that would address the needs of developing countries,” said Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s climate change minister, who chairs the G77 group of developing nations. “Climate justice delayed will be climate justice denied.”

Another part of the document circulated on Thursday morning suggested that poor nations can only cut emissions with contributions from the developed world. E3G’s Meyer said that those nations need support for decarbonisation at the rate the science calls for, but that making mitigation dependent on funding is not in line with the Paris agreement and that it only speaks to “passions”.

Perhaps one of the strangest references in the text was a line that called for rich nations to decarbonize heavily this decade and “achieve net negative carbon emissions by 2030” — language that blindsided countries developed.

“It’s always good to call on developed nations to step up,” Timmermans said. “But let’s be real, come on.”

–With the assistance of Laura Millan Lombrana.

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