We’re winding up the blog now, but it has been an extraordinary and fascinating, if not always cheering, couple of weeks at Cop.
You can turn to my colleague Fiona Harvey’s long read on exactly what happened at Cop27 for all the drama – and the long, dull moments where nothing seemed to happen too.
But what happened today as the conference centre finally shut its doors?
John Kerry called on China to do more, saying: “As we continue to lead along with our allies and partners in the fight to protect our planet, the United States will also continue to press major emitters like China to significantly enhance their ambition to align with what science says is necessary.”
The EU president called the deal a “small step towards climate justice” but added that much more needed to be done.
The G77 bloc along with climate justice organisations welcomed the creation of a loss and damage fund as a “glimmer of hope” as War on Want’s Asad Rehman put it.
Everyone got a closer look at the text and picked out the new arrivals, including a first ever mention in the cover text for “tipping points”, and “nature-based solutions”.
And there was plenty of disappointment too, as people reflected on the failures – in particular the failure to incorporate the goal of phasing out fossil fuels.
It’s been a rollercoaster. Next year’s Cop will be in the United Arab Emirates. Thank you for joining us. If you’d like to support the Guardian just nip in here because we couldn’t do any of this without you all. See you in UAE.
My colleague Nina Lakhani has reported on the way that Pakistan was at the forefront of the battle to get the loss and damage fund finally set up this year.
The horrific floods that left a third of the country underwater earlier this year only spurred the resolve.
Pakistan brought that resolve to the negotiations in Sharm el-Sheikh and, as president of the G77 plus China negotiating bloc, succeeded in keeping developing countries united on loss and damage – despite efforts by some rich countries to divide them. Its chief negotiator, Nabeel Munir, a career diplomat, was backed by a team of savvy veteran negotiators who had witnessed the devastation and suffering from the floods, which caused $30bn (£25bn) of damage and economic losses. Every day, Munir repeated the same message: “Loss and damage is not charity, it’s about climate justice.”
The conference has brought little relief for the family of the British-Egyptian jailed hunger striker Alaa Abd el-Fattah. His family were allowed to visit him a couple of days ago, and found him exhausted and weak.
My colleague Ruth Michaelson has reported previously that “Abd el-Fattah is one of Egypt’s most prominent political prisoners, having spent most of the past decade behind bars. Last year, shortly after gaining British citizenship through his mother, the democracy activist was sentenced to a further five years in prison for sharing a social media post about torture. He began a hunger strike in April, consuming just 100 calories a day, which he escalated to forgo all sustenance and then even water on the day that Cop27 began in Sharm el-Sheikh.”
Caroline Lucas, the Green party MP for Brighton, tweeted about her sadness that Cop is over, but Alaa has still not been freed.
Bill McGuire, professor emeritus of geophysical and climate hazards at UCL and author of Hothouse Earth: an Inhabitant’s Guide, has written an opinion piece for the Guardian. In it, he eviscerates Cop27 and the UNFCCC process as a whole – a “bloated travelling circus”, he calls it – while also offering an alternative:
What is needed is an apparatus that is less cumbersome and more manageable – something leaner and meaner that zeros in on the most critical aspects of the climate crisis, that does its work largely hidden from the glare of the media, and which presents a less obvious honey pot to the busy bees of the fossil fuel sector. One way forward, then, could be to establish a number of smaller bodies, each addressing one of the key issues – notably energy, agriculture, deforestation, transport, loss and damage, and perhaps others.
Such bodies would operate full-time, liaising with one another and perhaps coming together a few times a year. Ideally, they would be made up of representatives from both developed and majority-world countries. In direct contact with representatives of national governments, part of their remit would be to negotiate agreements that are workable, legally binding, and which actually do the job – whether reversing deforestation, cutting methane emissions, or drawing down coal usage. As and when all terms and conditions are agreed, these could be validated and signed off by world leaders as a matter of course and without the need for the ballyhoo of a global conference.”
Read his piece in full here:
Looking ahead for a moment, next year’s UN climate summit will take place in Dubai in November/December 2023. (And as many commentators are pointing out, given Cop28 will be hosted by an oil state, the United Arab Emirates, it is difficult to imagine much progress on a phase-down of fossil fuels.)
Prof Mark Maslin, professor of climatology at the University College London, has shared his take on what the focus needs to be on in the intervening 12 months to achieve some progress:
“The lessons [of] the multiple failures of Cop27 for Cop28 in Dubai are fourfold:
1. Start the negotiations now and work hard for the next 12 months so that all countries are prepared to get a clear agreement by the end.
2. Run an open and transparent process so all countries understand what is being negotiated and trust can be repaired.
3. Push key countries to increase their ambition and submit improved pledges so there is a chance of sticking to the 1.5C limit with a focus on phasing out fossil fuels.
4. Rich nations including both high-income countries and emerging economies must contribute to adaptation funds and a transparent and an effective loss and damage facility. Climate justice will need to be at the heart of the negotiations for Cop28 as money will need to be put on the table for adaptation, loss and damages and rapid ramp up of renewables.”
The UK’s prime minister, Rishi Sunak, has made a statement on the outcome of Cop27, saying “there is no time for complacency” and that “more must be done” to keep 1.5C alive.
There has been criticism of the UK government’s lack of leadership at Cop, however, and for its continued support of fossil fuel developments in the North Sea.
Ed Miliband, shadow climate and net zero secretary for the opposition Labour party – which has said it would stop granting new oil and gas licences in the North Sea and form an “anti-Opec” alliance of countries dedicated to renewable energy – argued that “there was a total absence of leadership from the UK PM”.
Miliband said Sunak’s “most memorable act was to decide not to go to Cop27, before he was forced to do so out of embarrassment”.
Harriet Lamb, the CEO of climate solutions charity Ashden, also called out a lack of leadership from the UK:
Throughout the negotiations, Alok Sharma put in a heroic individual effort, but UK leadership was largely absent as the government sidestepped its responsibilities to push for those climate promises made in Glasgow to be turned into measurable funding flows.
Meena Raman, director of Third World Network, said:
Since the EU and Alok Sharma are disappointed that fossil fuel phase-out is not in the text, we would like them to take leadership and revise their NDCs [nationally determined contributions] and put into plans their fossil fuel phase-out urgently and stop expansion of fossil fuels including oil and gas. [It’s] not enough to play to the gallery but act if they really want to save the planet and not hide behind 2050 net zero targets, which will bust the remaining carbon budget for 1.5C.”
For the US, Cop27 has capped a sort of remarkable turnaround, writes US environment reporter Oliver Milman. Previously a staunch opponent of any sort of compensatory loss and damage fund for vulnerable countries, the US has ended up backing the creation of such a fund, a major triumph of the talks.
John Kerry, Joe Biden’s climate envoy who has been isolating after contracting Covid, said the US is “pleased” to support the new fund, after the Americans gained assurances that there would be no legal liability for climate damages suffered by other countries.
“The fund, which will be one among many available avenues for voluntary funding, should be designed to be effective and to attract an expanded donor base,” Kerry said in his closing statement, a nod to other countries the US expects to step up and perhaps a tacit acknowledgment that America has failed to meet previous promises to itself deliver climate finance.
Despite the lack of more ambitious language to cut emissions in the Cop27 text, Kerry was upbeat, saying that “make no mistake: we have kept the hope of 1.5 alive”, in reference to the agreed global temperature rise limit of 1.5C, which scientists now say is a remote possibility.
The former Democratic presidential candidate pointedly took aim at China, however, despite a slight thaw between the world’s two largest carbon emitters on climate issues following a diplomatic fallout. The US has wanted China to do more to accelerate emissions cuts and, in particular, commit to slash methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Kerry said:
As I’ve said before, the climate crisis is fundamentally a global, not a bilateral, issue. Reducing emissions in time is about math, not ideology.
That’s why all nations have a stake in the choices China makes in this critical decade. The United States and China should be able to accelerate progress together, not only for our sake, but for future generations. And we are all hopeful that China will live up to its global responsibility.
As we continue to lead along with our allies and partners in the fight to protect our planet, the United States will also continue to press major emitters like China to significantly enhance their ambition to align with what science says is necessary.”
More broadly, Kerry said that the international community “must continue pressing for all major economies to align their 2030 targets with 1.5C, and to fulfill those targets by halting the construction of new coal, accelerating the deployment of clean energy, slashing methane emissions, and halting deforestation.”
The US came into the Cop27 talks in a bullish mood, following the passage of the inflation reduction act over the summer, which is the first major climate bill ever established by Congress.
The American delegation found itself under pressure in Sharm el-Sheikh, however, over the issue of loss and damage, as well as over a glut of new oil and gas projects at home, which Biden has somewhat awkwardly backed in an attempt to lower gasoline prices.
Emissions in the US are expected to rise by around 1.5% this year as the economy rebounds and more people start taking flights following Covid-related downturn.
More reaction to the deal is coming through, with the initial euphoria over the loss and damage fund giving way to sharp criticism of what was left out – in particular, the lack of a commitment to phase out fossil fuels, which in turn imperils 1.5C.
The environment director at Human Rights Watch, Richard Pearshouse, argues that despite the breakthrough on loss and damage, Egypt, the petro-states and the fossil fuel industry (who came to Cop27 in larger numbers than ever before) got what they wanted: “the text makes no mention of phasing out fossil-fuels and weakens reference to the science + the 1.5 degree target”
Jeni Miller, at the Global Climate and Health Alliance of 130 health organisations, makes the link between a healthy planet and healthy people:
Despite support from over 80 countries, governments’ collective failure to deliver a clear commitment to phase out all fossil fuels puts us on course to go beyond the already dangerous 1.5C global temperature rise. Only full fossil fuel phase-out will deliver the maximum health benefits from clean air and a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.”
Dr Sven Teske, at the University of Technology Sydney, Australia, says:
By agreeing on a [loss and damage] fund without details and the 1.5C target remaining without the commitment to phase-out fossil fuels we technically accept to pay for future damages rather than avoiding them.”
Sir David King, former UK chief scientific adviser and chair of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group, says we are still on track for well above 2C:
Even with the commitments made and re-affirmed [at Cop27] the world remains on track for 2.7C. By any measure, that represents a bleak future for humanity. Agreements on loss and damage, like any other support package, are only relevant if they are married with commitments that keep warming well below 1.5oC. One without the other is simply no good.”
Adnan Khan, Pakistan Red Crescent Youth Representative, calls on world leaders to act for the sake of future generations:
“One third of my country was underwater when floods ravaged Pakistan this year. My friends in other countries are losing their homes to storms, wildfires, and rain. Decisions made at Cop27 - about loss and damage, finance, and early warning systems - they determine my future and the future of young people. We are willing to do our part, but we need leaders to meet us on this path to change.”
I’m Natalie Hanman, head of environment at the Guardian, taking over from Bibi van der Zee, to bring you more reaction to Cop27, and analysis of what it all means. Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org and @nataliehanman. Thanks for reading
'The 1.5C climate goal died at Cop27 – but hope must not'
My colleague Damian Carrington has taken a searing look at what Cop27 meant for the goal of keeping global heating below 1.5C, and whether that means it is time to give up.
Does that mean giving up? Absolutely not. The 1.5C target is not a threshold beyond which hope also dies. Every fraction of a degree means an increase in human suffering and must therefore be fought for. How? With everything we have, to tear down the barrier between us and climate stability: the fossil fuel industry.
Instead, the fossil fuel industry and its unconscionable expansion plans will need to be fought elsewhere. The first place is in the mind. The global oil and gas industry has raked in an average equivalent of $1tn a year in unearned profits for the last 50 years by exploiting a natural resource that belongs to citizens. Imagine redirecting that financial firepower at decarbonising the world.
The fossil fuel industry can also be fought on the streets, in peaceful protest, and on the lands being despoiled by their expansion. Countries could shun petro-states by forming a “climate club”, a G7 proposal to enable the ambitious to race ahead and penalise the laggards.
A fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty would provide a transparent way to keep remaining coal, oil and gas reserves untouched. Even a tobacco-style ban on fossil fuel advertising, already backed by the World Health Organization, would help. All of this, and more, will be needed.
Cop27 did achieve something. The new loss-and-damage fund promises to finance the rebuilding of poorer, vulnerable countries hit by increasingly severe climate impacts, which they have done little to cause. It is a long-overdue acknowledgment of the moral responsibility the big polluters have for the climate emergency. It is all the more important given that Cop27’s failure to meaningfully drive emissions cuts means even worse disasters are to come.
Is there hope? Yes, in that every climate action we take lessens the damage. As Cop27 closed, Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner, poet and climate envoy for the Marshall Islands, said: “I wish we had got fossil fuel phase-out. But we’ve shown with the loss and damage fund that we can do the impossible. So we know we can come back [to Cop] next year and get rid of fossil fuels once and for all.” I hope she is right. I fear she is wrong.
Head of EU describes deal as 'small step towards climate justice'
The head of the EU executive, Ursula von der Leyen, has described the Cop27 deal as “a small step towards climate justice”, but said much more was needed for the planet.
In a dramatic U-turn on Friday, the European Union acceded to poor countries’ demands to create a new fund to address the loss and damage caused by global heating, a decision that paved the way for an agreement early on Sunday.
Senior EU figures responded cautiously to the outcome of the UN conference.
Von der Leyen said much more was needed for the planet: “We have treated some of the symptoms but not cured the patient from its fever,” she said in a statement.
“I am pleased that Cop27 has opened a new chapter on financing loss and damage, and laid the foundations for a new method for solidarity between those in need and those in a position to help. We are rebuilding trust.
“Cop27 has kept alive the goal of 1.5C. Unfortunately however, it has not delivered on a commitment by the world’s major emitters to phase down fossil fuels, nor new commitments on climate mitigation.”
The leader of the European parliament’s delegation to Sharm el-Sheik, the Dutch Green MEP Bas Eickhout, was blunter in his criticism. “Europe had to fight to the end to maintain last year’s ambition. But this is insufficient if we want to meet the climate goals. I can therefore only conclude that 2022 has been a lost climate year.”
He added that the Cop “achieved something after all” with the decision to create the loss and damage fund.
One of the most significant achievements of Cop27, after the new fund for loss and damage, is on how to deliver the trillions of dollars needed to cut carbon emissions and adapt societies to the increasingly severe impacts of climate change.
Here’s what the Cop27 decision says, and I’ll explain below:
“[The world’s nations] call on the shareholders of multilateral development banks (MDBs) and international financial institutions to reform practices and priorities, align and scale up funding … and encourage MDBs to define a new vision that [is] fit for the purpose of addressing the global climate emergency.”
This is significant because such reforms really could deliver far higher levels of finance. The Cop27 call adds to pressure already coming from developing countries, under the Bridgetown Agenda championed by Barbados prime minister Mia Mottley, and from rich nations, including all of the G7, and recently the G20.
They are all demanding fast action, by spring 2023. As Mottley told Cop27, many of the nations at the summit did not even exist when the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and other MDBs were set up after the second world war – they are no longer fit for purpose, she said.
The reforms are wide-ranging including, for example, co-investing with the private sector to drastically lower the interest on loans for renewables, a major barrier in developing nations. Another reform is large-scale deployment of “special drawing rights”, a type of funds that the IMF creates. Importantly, the Cop27 text calls for MDBs to take into account the high debt burdens many poor nations already have.
Kate Levick, a sustainable finance expert at the thinktank E3G, said: “Finance issues were always going to be critical at this Cop, and sure enough in Egypt they tested the UN process to its limits, with a major gap between the expectations of different groups of countries on provision of climate finance. [But] there was a consensus that current financial architecture and rules are not adequate to meet the climate challenge. The final outcome called for financial system reform, and made a particularly strong set of requests to the MDBs.”
You can read more on climate finance here:
Fiona Harvey has put together this essential guide to the key outcomes of Cop27. The loss and damage fund is a major milestone, she says, but now comes the difficult part.
There was much tussling over the Glasgow target of focusing on a 1.5C limit. “At Cop27, some countries tried to renege on the 1.5C goal, and to abolish the ratchet. They failed, but a resolution to cause emissions to peak by 2025 was taken out, to the dismay of many.”
Gas also did well out of the Sharm el-Sheikh conference, with a surprisingly large number of deals signed on the sidelines of the summit. Fiona writes: “The final text of Cop27 contained a provision to boost “low-emissions energy”. That could mean many things, from wind and solar farms to nuclear reactors, and coal-fired power stations fitted with carbon capture and storage. It could also be interpreted to mean gas, which has lower emissions than coal, but is still a major fossil fuel.”
There was no improvement on last year’s commitment to phase down the use of coal, despite intensive lobbying from many groups who wanted to get a commitment to ‘phase down all fossil fuels’ into the text.
But there was arguably some headway on reform of the global financial system, with a growing number of countries looking for urgent changes to the world’s multilateral banks which, they argue, are failing to provide the necessary funding. This is now a serious topic of discussion.
Who were the standout voices of Cop27?
Mia Mottley, the prime minister of Barbados, made her mark at Cop26 in Glasgow, where she was a powerful voice for developing countries. In Egypt, too, she has again been a force to be reckoned with.
Sherry Rehman, the Pakistani climate minister, also played a vital part with her team of negotiators. Our reporter Nina Lakhani pointed out: “It’s worth noting the key role played by Pakistan in securing the historic agreement in creating a loss and damage facility. This year, Pakistan holds the presidency of the G77 negotiating bloc of developing countries plus China, and its negotiators came to Sharm el-Sheikh determined to secure the new funding mechanism after a catastrophic climate year.”
Rehman fought like a tiger for the loss and damage fund, and was justly overjoyed that it got through.
And the Tuvalu finance minister, Seve Paeniu, gave an impactful speech, holding up a picture of his grandchildren, at a key moment. The island of Tuvalu in the Pacific region is fighting for its life in a way that other countries are not and he humblingly reminded other delegates of this fact.
There were so many campaigners working hard to keep delegates focused on the global issues rather than just on their national responsibilities, such as the tireless Meena Raman, director of Third World Network, Harjeet Singh of the Climate Action Network and Mohamed Adow of Power Shift Africa.
But most of all, as in every year, it was the youth activists who held everyone’s feet to the fire, reminding delegates simply through their presence that they will take the brunt of any decisions made, or unmade at this Cop. Vanessa Nakate increasingly occupies a leadership position within the youth movement, but there is a whole new cohort of activists who are taking up the heavy responsibility of speaking truth to power, including Licypriya Kangujam and Mitzi Jonelle Tan.
And of course Nakeeyat Sam Dramani, the young poet from Ghana (just 10 years old), who implored delegates to ‘have a heart’.
This will also be the first text which has included ‘tipping points’, notes Leo Hickman.
This follows a major study in September that showed that climate crisis has driven the world to the brink of multiple “disastrous” tipping points, as reported by my colleague Damian Carrington at the time.
The report found that five dangerous tipping points may already have been passed due to the 1.1C of global heating caused by humanity to date.
These include the collapse of Greenland’s ice cap, eventually producing a huge sea level rise, the collapse of a key current in the north Atlantic, disrupting rain upon which billions of people depend for food, and an abrupt melting of carbon-rich permafrost.
At 1.5C of heating, the minimum rise now expected, four of the five tipping points move from being possible to likely, the analysis said. Also at 1.5C, an additional five tipping points become possible, including changes to vast northern forests and the loss of almost all mountain glaciers.
In total, the researchers found evidence for 16 tipping points, with the final six requiring global heating of at least 2C to be triggered, according to the scientists’ estimations. The tipping points would take effect on timescales varying from a few years to centuries.
The co-leader of the UK’s Green party Adrian Ramsay is pointing out that while the establishment of the loss and damage fund is an important fund, “the fund is currently empty and we now need rich countries like the UK to step up, honour their commitment to this fund and pay for the harm they have inflicted through historical emissions”.
“But the real failure at Sharm el-Sheikh was that no significant progress has been made in commitments on fossil fuels, which is unsurprising given the hundreds of fossil fuel lobbyists who were active inside the negotiation. In terms of the commitment to eliminating fossil fuels from the global economy, Cop27 represents a backward step.”
The reactions from climate justice organisations have been tempered by disappointment, too.
Lidy Nacpil, Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development, says: “We welcome an initial partial win on Loss & Damage Fund – it is there but buried with other ‘financial arrangements.’ And this win is overshadowed by lack of progress on fossil fuel phase-out and the continued inclusion of false solutions, which means more loss and damage! Lack of progress on fossil fuel phase-out shows the hypocrisy of governments of rich countries in their blah blah blah about keeping global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees, and the corporate capture of the Cop by the fossil fuel industries. We need to escalate even more our struggles – in our countries and international arenas! Onwards!”
Asad Rehman, of War on Want, who has been such a powerful voice in the movement, said: “We leave the summit with a glimmer of hope that the establishment of a Loss and Damage Fund will provide much needed support to those on the frontlines of the climate catastrophe. It’s a small step, a critical one, but an empty fund means nothing. Rich countries who continue to pollute must now provide real finance to the fund.
“This historic victory was only made possible because of people power. The unprecedented pressure by climate justice groups and the refusal of developing countries to be bullied or divided, dragged rich countries kicking and screaming across the line.”
But, he cautioned, people were also “bitter at the refusal of the rich to cut their emissions, and shift away from their addiction to fossil fuels. This continues to be a life and death fight for the future of humanity. But the growing power of climate justice movements is sending a warning to rich countries that we are not, and never will be defeated.”
Avinash Persaud, special climate envoy to PM Mia Mottley of Barbados, sees this as a “small victory for humankind”.
“It’s been agreed. I can now say and be quoted: we have a historic decision to establish a loss and damage fund for countries acutely impacted by the warming climate. It was the result of the strong leadership by the alliance of small Island states with an amazing degree of solidarity shown by the rest of the world, from the major industrialising developing countries and the developed ones. It is a small victory for humankind. Now we need to redouble efforts behind an energy, transport and agriculture transition that will limit these climate losses and damages in the future.”
And Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, climate envoy from the Marshall Islands, said:
“I’m proud I got to be here to witness this happen and contribute in a small way. Worn out but so worth it to protect already disappearing islets, shorelines and culture. So many people all this week told us we wouldn’t get it. So glad they were wrong.
“I wish we got fossil fuel phase-out. The current text is not enough. But we’ve shown with the loss and damage fund that we can do the impossible. So we know we can come back next year and get rid of fossil fuels once and for all.”
More reaction from some of the key players here:
International media response so far has been mixed
It’s fair to say that so far the reaction to the cover text produced at Cop27 is mixed. While most celebrate the wins – in particular the establishment of a loss and damage fund – there is a sense that the final deal was a missed opportunity, and that time is running out.
The Washington Post in the US notes the significance of the creation of the loss and damage fund, in particular for the US. “Negotiators reached a deal on a “loss and damage fund” that represented a significant shift for US leaders, who have long feared such payments could make the nation liable for huge sums, given its historical contribution to emissions. But the Biden administration could no longer resist in the face of possible global condemnation at this year’s UN. climate change conference, known as Cop27.”
The Wire in India reports: “Countries adopted a hard-fought final agreement at the Cop27 climate summit early on Sunday that sets up a fund to help poor countries being battered by climate disasters – but does not boost efforts to tackle the emissions causing them. The session first swiftly approved the text’s provision to set up a ‘loss and damage’ fund to help developing countries bear the immediate costs of climate-fuelled events such as storms and floods.
“But it kicked many of the most controversial decisions on the fund into next year, when a “transitional committee” would make recommendations for countries to then adopt at the Cop28 climate summit in November 2023. Those recommendations would cover “identifying and expanding sources of funding” – referring to the vexed question of which countries should pay into the new fund.”
El Pais in Spain reports the lack of ambition on 1.5C which has troubled many observers, referencing that many had hoped to get large carbon emitters like China, the “world’s leading emitter” to increase their reduction commitments. According to El Pais, this was what particularly held up the summit – the EU was not able to get its demands for more ambition through in the end.
More reaction coming in.
Ruth Townend, research fellow on the environment and society programme at Chatham House, got straight to the point. She said: “World governments have, at most, three years to bend the curve on emissions, and nothing short of transformational change to energy, transport and food systems, the global financial architecture and the way individuals live their lives, can achieve this.
“In Sharm-el-Sheikh, precious time and opportunity was squandered. Governments can still head the signals of change coming out of Cop27 through ambitious national action in the year ahead, coming into Cop28 next year prepared to take transformative multilateral action where it matters. The future of the world’s citizens, you, me, our children and grandchildren, rests firmly on their shoulders.”
Katie White, executive director of advocacy and campaigns at WWF, said: “While a deal on loss and damage finance is a positive step, it risks becoming a down payment on disaster unless emissions are urgently cut in line with the 1.5C goal. By refusing to phase out fossil fuels, governments have failed to reach a more ambitious agreement than in Glasgow last year and put our health and security at risk.
“As attention turns to the Cop15 biodiversity summit in Montreal next month, the UK government must lead from the front in securing a gamechanging global deal to reverse the loss of nature by 2030 and bring our world back to life.”
'Nature-based solutions' included in the cover decision for first time
Leo Hickman, of Carbon Brief, has pointed out that for the first time ever, a Cop decision includes “nature-based solution” and a dedicated section on forests. This is of course excellent news.
He has also spotted “food” in there and believes this is the first time, too.
The wording is quite opaque, however, and does not openly acknowledge the role that farming systems play in producing carbon emissions. The text acknowledges that “the impacts of climate change exacerbate the global energy and food crises, and vice-versa”.
It talks about food security, and “the particular vulnerabilities of food production systems to the adverse impacts of climate change”.
The only way to survive an all-nighter at Cop27 – the power nap. With the closing plenary only starting in the middle of the night, here is a brief photographic guide to the tactics adopted by some delegates in order to make it to dawn.
Criticism of the Egyptian management is surfacing
Throughout the conference there has been criticism of the way it was being managed by the Egyptian presidency. At some points it looked as if they were moving far too slowly and the last couple of days they were reported to be following procedures that were far from transparent, which meant it was difficult for delegates to be sure that everyone was having the same conversation.
Joe Lo of Climate Home is reporting that Annalena Baerbock, the German foreign minister, issued a statement accusing the presidency of “stonewalling and organisational shortcoming”, and said that only a progressive trans-continental alliance prevented “utter failure”.
They might argue, however, that they were balancing some very conflicting demands. Sameh Shoukry, the Egyptian foreign minister and president of the summit, says: “In the end we delivered. We listened to the calls of anguish and despair.”
Friends of the Earth International gave a qualified welcome to the news. Sara Shaw said: “It is a relief that the Loss and Damage fund has finally been established, after decades of struggle. But, right now, it is an empty fund, and we have a huge challenge ahead to ensure that developed countries contribute to it, in line with justice and equity. We must not see a repeat of the abysmal performance of rich countries failing to provide the already inadequate $100bn a year promised over a decade ago.”
Babawale Obayanju, of Friends of the Earth Africa, added: “The fact that the outcome only talks about ‘phasedown of unabated coal power’ is a disaster for Africa and for the climate. Oil and gas must be also be phased out, swiftly and fairly. One small word, ‘unabated’, creates a huge loophole, opening the door to new fossil-based hydrogen and carbon capture and storage projects, which will allow emissions to continue. We don’t need more gas extraction in Africa, devastating our communities for the benefit of rich countries and corporations. What we needed from Cop27 was agreement to a rapid, equitable phase out of all fossil fuels.”
Hemantha Withanage, chair of Friends of the Earth International, said from Sri Lanka: “The decision on carbon markets is deeply worrying. Whilst Cop27 has temporarily delayed moves to put geoengineering, dangerous and untested technologies, and so-called nature-based solutions into carbon offset markets, we know these threats will rear their heads again. Carbon markets give cover for continued emissions by polluters, grabbing of land, forests and water from vulnerable communities, and violations of people’s rights.”
The Global Climate and Health Alliance – a global network of health professionals and NGOs – has also welcomed the decision to establish a loss and damage fund, but are frustrated by the stalled progress on fossil fuel phase-out.
Our heroic Fiona Harvey has just tweeted some pictures from the closing phases of the plenary.
I’m Bibi van der Zee, and I’m just taking over from Alan Evans on the blog now, by the way.
Shoukry closes the conference by thanking the support staff at the venue, to a round of applause from the smattering of delegates still in the room. There are a lot of hugs, handshakes and smiles among the UN representatives and the live stream is cut off.
The delegate from Barbados, one of the most outspoken countries in the process through its president, Mia Mottley, has spoken:
“When we came here there was a great philosophical chasm on how we’d approach these issues, particularly on loss and damage. Thanks to the countries who took the leap, it’s a significant move forward.
“There have been complaints that the text is not perfect and indeed it is not … but we have all moved forward, must not allow the search for perfection stop us from doing what is possible and pragmatic. We are grateful to see so many elements of the Bridgetown initiative included, and we look forward to the reform of the multilateral development banks.
“We have to concede that action and ambition have lagged behind our advocacy, the time has come to make sure they catch up. We must recognise this historic moment in this historic country when we took a big step for climate justice.
“We have a compromise that gives satisfaction but not joy. We now have to keep working to get to the point that we can sing joyfully that we are doing what we must and what the people of the world expect of us.”
You can read more about the Bridgetown Agenda referred to here:
With that, it appears we are at the end of the countries who wish to speak, and Shoukry moves on to observer organisations.
Mohamed Adow, who runs the Power Shift Africa thinktank, is broadly pleased with the outcome:
“To quote the Three Lions England football song, after 30 years of hurt, climate action is finally coming home on African soil here in Egypt.”
“At the beginning of these talks loss and damage was not even on the agenda and now we are making history. It just shows that this UN process can achieve results, and that the world can recognise the plight of the vulnerable must not be treated as a political football. It’s worth noting that we have the fund but we need money to make it worthwhile. What we have is an empty bucket. Now we need to fill it so that support can flow to the most impacted people who are suffering right now at the hands of the climate crisis.
“However, on a global fossil fuel phase down it’s sad to see countries just copying and pasting the outcome from last year’s Cop26 in Glasgow. The science is clear, the impacts are getting worse and we know that renewables are the future. Polluting countries need to leave coal, oil and gas in the ground if we’re going to keep global heating from running out of control.”
The youth delegate from Norway has some strong words:
“I am disappointed, sad and angry. Where is the urgency? Where is the crisis management?
“This is not about politics, this is about humanity. These times require us to put our values and morals in the driver’s seat. We need you to be brave, to do absolutely everything in your power. If you don’t act now, it might be too late for us to right your wrongs when we inherit your seats.
“The alternative to radically upscaling ambition now will create a world none of us want to live in. Now is the time to decide if you want to be tomorrow’s villains or heroes.”
Alok Sharma: Peaking of greenhouse gas emission in 2025 "not in this text"
The UK’s lead climate negotiator, the minister Alok Sharma, has just delivered a telling speech at Cop27 revealing what some countries had tried to push through to an agreement.
Sharma was the president of the Glasgow Cop in 2021, and he was clearly frustrated with the events of the last two weeks in Egypt.
He punctuated his speech with his hand thudding in to his speech notes.
We joined with many parties to propose a number of measures that would have contributed to [raising ambition].
Emissions peaking before 2025 as the science tells us is necessary. Not in this text.
Clear follow through on the phase down of coal. Not in this text.
Clear commitments to phase put all fossil fuels. Not in this text.
And the energy text weakened in the final minutes.
Friends, I said in Glasgow that the pulse of 1.5 degrees was weak. Unfortunately it remains on life support.
All of us need to look ourselves in the mirror and consider if we have fully risen to the challenge.
Sharma said he would not be in the UK’s chair position at next year’s Cop meeting, but added:
I promise you if we do not step up soon and rise above the minute to midnight battles to hold the line we will all be found wanting.
Each of us will have to explain that to our citizens to the world’s most vulnerable countries and communities and ultimately to the children and grandchildren to whom many of us now go home.
Here are some early reactions from big names to the outcome of Cop27:
Laurence Tubiana, one of the architects of the landmark Paris agreement
“This Cop caused deep frustrations but it wasn’t for nothing. It achieved a significant breakthrough for the most vulnerable countries. The loss and damage fund, a dream at Cop26 last year, is on track to start running in 2023. There is a lot of work still to be done on the detail, but the principle is in place and that is a significant mindset shift as we deal with a world in which climate impacts cause profound loss.
“The influence of the fossil-fuel industry was found across the board. This Cop has weakened requirements around countries making new and more ambitious commitments. The text makes no mention of phasing out fossil-fuels and scant reference to science and the 1.5C target. The Egyptian presidency has produced a text that clearly protects oil and gas petrostates and the fossil-fuel industries. This trend cannot continue in the United Arab Emirates next year.”
“Elsewhere in Sharm el-Sheikh, it was a silent and fearful Cop for many activists. The legacy of those fighting for civic space and human rights will endure.”
Mary Robinson, chair of The Elders group of statespeople
“In a year of multiple crises and climate shocks, the historic outcome on loss and damage at Cop27 shows international cooperation is possible, even in these testing times. Equally, the renewed commitment on the 1.5 global warming limit was a source of relief.
“However, none of this changes the fact that the world remains on the brink of climate catastrophe. Progress made on mitigation since Cop26 in Glasgow has been too slow. Climate action at Cop27 shows we are on the cusp of a clean energy world, but only if G20 leaders live up to their responsibilities, keep their word, and strengthen their will. The onus is on them. All climate commitments must be transformed into real-world action, including the rapid phase out of fossil fuels, a much faster transition towards green energy, and tangible plans for delivering both adaptation and loss and damage finance.
“We avoided backsliding and made progress in Sharm el-Sheikh. Now leaders must stop sidestepping and fulfil their promises to safeguard a liveable future.”
Vanessa Nakate, a climate justice activist from Uganda
“Cop27 was meant to be the ‘African Cop’ but the needs of African people have been obstructed throughout. Loss and damage in vulnerable countries is now unignorable, but some developed countries here in Egypt have decided to ignore our suffering. Young people were not able to have their voice heard at Cop27 because of restrictions on protest, but our movement is growing and ordinary citizens in every country are starting to hold their governments accountable on the climate crisis at home
I’m Alan Evans, picking up the blog again, and you can reach me at email@example.com or on Twitter at @itsalanevans.
Group of members ‘deeply disappointed’ and call for ‘urgent escalation’
It is 8am in Sharm El-sheikh and the closing plenary is still going, with final statements being made by parties and observers.
Some of the elation at Cop27’s historic deal on loss and damage is giving way to the realisation the conference didn’t deliver on the fundamental challenge of agreeing more rapid cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.
Australian climate negotiator, Sally Box, has just made a statement on behalf of members of the Umbrella group – a negotiating bloc that includes Australia, Canada, Japan, Iceland, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, the UK and the United States.
The loss and damage deal was historic, she said, but:
We must go further in light of the stark findings of the latest science including by recognising that global emissions must peak by 2025 to keep 1.5C alive.
In a speech to the plenary, She asked all countries to come up with an “urgent escalation of our efforts”.
Parties, we must turn resolve into action. We are deeply disappointed that some parties have sought to restrain the ambition of this work [climate mitigation] work program. We cannot decide to do less.
Note: an earlier version of this post said Australia’s Kristen Tilley had delivered the statement. Apologies for that error.
EU climate policy chief: ‘We have all fallen short’
The European Union’s climate policy chief Frans Timmermans has just delivered an impassioned plea to the floor of the closing plenary at Cop27 in Egypt.
Timmermans said sacrifices had been made in order to get the agreement for loss and damage over the line, but he left the room in no doubt of his disappointment.
Friends are not friends if they only tell you what you want to hear. Last night our talks have stalled. There were too many attempts to roll back even on what we agreed in Glasgow.
Timmermans asked all countries to do more.
The fight for ambition for a better future is not yet over. In fact it’s only just begun. We know the cost of inaction is so much higher than the cost of action.
We should have done much more. We have all fallen short in actions to avoid loss and damage. Our citizens expect us to lead. That means far more rapidly reduced emissions.
UN secretary general: 'Our planet is still in the emergency room'
The UN Secretary-General António Guterres has released a full statement on the outcomes of Cop27.
He’s already described the creation of a loss and damage fund for developing countries as an important step for climate justice.
He said financial institutions and multinational banks needed to “accept more risk and systematically leverage private finance for developing countries at reasonable costs.”
But let’s be clear.
Our planet is still in the emergency room.
We need to drastically reduce emissions now – and this is an issue this COP did not address.
A fund for loss and damage is essential – but it’s not an answer if the climate crisis washes a small island state off the map – or turns an entire African country to desert.
The world still needs a giant leap on climate ambition.
The red line we must not cross is the line that takes our planet over the 1.5 degree temperature limit.
Progress on loss and damage comes despite stalled climate ambitions
While there has been a landmark breakthrough on loss and damage, the other outcomes of Cop27 look disappointingly similar to last year’s climate summit in Scotland.
Last year, for the first time, a fossil fuel – namely coal – was mentioned for “phase down” in a UN climate agreement and several countries, and climate campaigners, had pushed for all fossil fuels, including oil and gas, to be named for elimination at Cop27.
But this did not happen, nor did any stronger language around achieving the in-peril target of limiting global heating to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. This has led to frustration among some countries.
Espen Barth Eide, Norway’s environment minister, said
We were suggesting we should have a phaseout of unabated fossil fuels, of course this is not in, I would prefer it to be in.
It’s not as strong as we’d like it to be, but it doesn’t raise ambition further and that’s something we have to work on further at Cop28.
Even worse to some was the inclusion in the agreement text of “low-emission” as well as renewable energy, a wording that could be interpreted as an endorsement of gas, which is seen as a cleaner fossil fuel than coal and yet still comes with substantial planet-heating emissions.
Collin Rees, campaign manager at Oil Change International, said:
Cop27’s key steps toward a loss and damage fund are deeply marred by the lack of progress on fossil fuels.
Despite unprecedented discussion of equitably phasing out oil, gas, and coal, the end result was yet another Cop without formal recognition that Big Oil is driving the climate crisis and harming communities.
Climate scientists have warned that there currently is no credible path to staying below 1.5C given countries’ insufficient emissions reduction targets, with 2022 on track to set a new record for global greenhouse gas emissions.
Rachel Cleetus, policy director at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the emissions trajectory is “dangerously off course” and the agreement does little to alter this.
Though it makes some important advances, the final Cop27 decision falls well short of what the science shows is needed.
We are still in the final throes of the closing plenary.
The Cop 27 president has been rapidly reading out the titles of documents – some of which have new revisions – and opening and closing the meetings of the different work streams.
Some proposals that have come before the Cop have gone unresolved and so have been been referred back to the next meeting,
It is 6.45am in Sharm El-Sheikh and some officials on the main stage are struggling to keep their eyes open.
A historic deal to set up a “loss and damage” fund to pay poorer countries harmed by the impacts of the climate crisis has been agreed to at a UN summit, capping a decades-long fight by climate campaigners and developing nations.
The decision marked a breakthrough at the climate negotiations, where for years developing countries have pressed wealthier nations to provide a form of compensation for the droughts, wildfires, floods and other escalating climate impacts they’ve faced due to the planet-heating emissions that have mostly come from the richest corners of the world.
Read our full story below.
When the dust settles on Cop27, the new carbon market rules – article 6 of the Paris agreement – will likely be one of the most controversial and far reaching deals of the summit.
Critics say it lacks transparency, allows questionable accounting practices, backtracks on human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples, and locks in loopholes for polluting industries and countries to greenwash and delay greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
Rachel Rose Jackson from Corporate Accountability said:
These outcomes are only worthy of celebration if you are either a carbon marketeer about to profit immensely, or the Global North governments who are locking in their ability to recklessly use offsets and removals - without required human rights and other safeguards - to ignore their obligation to actually reduce emissions. This is not reflective of keeping 1.5 alive.
The UN Secretary General António Guterres has also welcomed an “important step towards justice” on climate change.
Small island states: 'A mission thirty years in the making'
The Alliance of Small Island States, a negotiating bloc including some of the poorest and most vulnerable countries, has celebrated the establishment of a loss and damage response fund as “a mission thirty years in the making”.
The Aosis chair, Molwyn Joseph:
We have literally exhausted all of our efforts here at Cop27 to bring home the climate action commitments our vulnerable people desperately need. Our ministers and negotiators have endured sleepless nights and endless days in an intense series of negotiations, determined to secure the establishment of a loss and damage response fund, keep 1.5C alive, and advance ambition on critical mitigation and adaptation plans. But after the pain comes the progress.
Today, the international community has restored global faith in this critical process that is dedicated to ensuring no one is left behind. The agreements made at Cop27 are a win for our entire world. We have shown those who have felt neglected that we hear you, we see you, and we are giving you the respect and care you deserve. Now we must solidify our ties across territories. We must work even harder to hold firm to the 1.5C warming limit, to operationalize the loss and damage fund, and continue to create a world that is safe, fair, and equitable for all.
It’s worth noting the key role played by Pakistan in securing the historic agreement in creating a loss and damage facility.
This year Pakistan holds the presidency of the G77 negotiating bloc of developing countries plus China, and its negotiators came to Sharm el-Sheikh determined to secure the new funding mechanism after a catastrophic climate year.
A summer of drought and record breaking temperatures was followed by unprecedented rains and floods that left a third of the country under water, causing $30bn of damage and economic losses.
Here is a thread on the achievement from Pakistani climate minister Sherry Rehman, who described the victory as an important first step for climate justice.
Still more decisions going through as night turns into day in Sharm El-Sheikh.
Some documents agreed have been subject to last minute revisions. It often takes hours and days to get a full understanding of what’s agreed in these moments.
Teresa Anderson, Global Lead on Climate Justice, at ActionAid, reflects on a “pinch me moment” at Cop27.
After so many years of calling for the UN to agree to establish a fund to help countries being pushed deeper into poverty, this is a real pinch-me moment.
We can give credit to the collective pressure from civil society, combined with unprecedented unity among developing countries, for forcing rich countries to finally say “Yes - we are in this together”.
Mohamed Adow, Executive Director of the think tank Power Shift Africa, said:
COP27 has done what no other COP has achieved and created a loss and damage fund to support the most impacted communities of climate change.
At the beginning of these talks loss and damage was not even on the agenda and now we are making history. It just shows that this UN process can achieve results, and that the world can recognise the plight of the vulnerable must not be treated as a political football.
The president of the Cop, Sameh Shoukry, is now moving through more revised documents and gavelling them through.
There’s very tired applause. It’s is 5.45am there after all.
We’re still getting reactions to the historic creation of a loss and damage fund.
Harjeet Singh, Head of Global Political Strategy at Climate Action Network International, a network of 190 civil society groups in 130 countries, said:
With the creation of a new Loss and Damage Fund, COP27 has sent a warning shot to polluters that they can no longer go scot-free with their climate destruction. From now on, they will have to pay up for the damages they cause and are accountable to the people who are facing supercharged storms, devastating floods and rising seas.
Countries must now work together to ensure that the new fund can become fully operational and respond to the most vulnerable people and communities who are facing the brunt of climate crisis.
And we’re on another pause now in Sharm El-Sheikh after another couple of minutes of the plenary coming into session. Two further documents were agreed. We’ll get across anything noteworthy in amongst that.
The plenary is now restarting.
Here’s the words from the document agreed at Cop27 that establishes a fund to help developing countries cope with the impacts of climate change. This is UN climate convention language, but it is significant.
The Conference of the Parties and the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement,
Recalling the Convention and the Paris Agreement…
Decide to establish new funding arrangements for assisting developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, in responding to loss and damage, including with a focus on addressing loss and damage by providing and assisting in mobilizing new and additional resources, and that these new arrangements complement and include sources, funds, processes and initiatives under and outside the Convention and the Paris Agreement;
Also decide, in the context of establishing the new funding arrangements referred to in paragraph 2 above, to establish a fund for responding to loss and damage whose mandate includes a focus on addressing loss and damage;
The document, agreed by almost 200 countries, also establishes a committee to come up with rules to make the fund happen. That committee will report back at next year’s Cop.
Here’s the president of Cop27, Sameh Shoukry, after he just confirmed at the final plenary that a “loss and damage” fund would be created.
We are still waiting for the plenary to restart. The 30 minute delay has become almost an hour.
Cop27 agrees a 'loss and damage' fund for poorer countries
We are starting to get reactions now for what was agreed in the last hour, and the news about the passing of a loss and damage fund is being celebrated.
To be clear, campaigners for poorer nations have been pushing for a funding facility that would help them pay for the impacts of climate change for years.
Just getting this onto the Cop27 agenda was seen as a victory, so to have a scheme agreed is a huge step.
Nabeel Munir, Pakistani diplomat and chief negotiator for the G77 told the Guardian:
It’s a historic moment. Culmination of 30 years of work and beginning of a new chapter in pursuit of climate justice. A ray of hope for countries most affected by climate induced close and damage.
We are still in this “30 minute” suspension of the main plenary at Cop27. But here’s what we gather is happening now.
Each Cop ends with a final overall text and this draft appeared to have been released by the Cop27 president within minutes of the final plenary meeting starting.
So Switzerland stood up and asked for more time.
In this current draft text, the temperature goals look as though they are in line with what was agreed in Glasgow in 2021, when a phase down for coal was also agreed.
There were hopes amongst some that the Egypt Cop would broaden this “phase down” to include all fossil fuels, but there is no such language in this text being negotiated. Here’s what it does say:
Calls upon Parties to accelerate the development, deployment and dissemination of technologies, and the adoption of policies, to transition towards low-emission energy systems, including by rapidly scaling up the deployment of clean power generation and energy efficiency measures, including accelerating efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, while providing targeted support to the poorest and most vulnerable in line with national circumstances and recognizing the need for support towards a just transition;
Some draft texts have been agreed and gavelled through moments ago by the Cop president that relate to what has been a major sticking point in these talks.
That is, the creation of a funding facility for developing countries to draw on to pay for the “loss and damage” caused by climate change. We’ll try and get some detail now on what was in the final text and what was agreed.
Moments later, after an intervention from Switzerland, the plenary has now been suspended for another 30 minutes.
Final plenary begins
The final plenary has started. Cop27 president Sameh Shoukry is speaking now.
He opened the meeting with an apology for any missteps. You can watch the final plenary at this link.
Good morning, afternoon, evening or goodmiddleofthenight if you’re in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Centre for the final hours of Cop27.
I’m Graham Readfearn taking hold of our live blog for a while.
The main plenary room where we hope to see some final texts agreed is starting to fill up. A 3.30am scheduled start time has flown by.
For those counting, we’re now up to the third longest Cop ever. The next time to watch is 6.22am, when it would pass Cop17 in Durban for second place.
Some delegates are trickling into the plenary room but it still looks fairly empty, so even though it’s still listed as starting 10 minutes ago it is likely to be a little while yet.
It appears the plenary has been postponed again, now to 3.30am (1.30am GMT), according to the Cop27 official schedule.
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin NGO has heard it may be even later at 4am, which at this stage would not be much of a surprise. The YouTube channel is still saying 3am, but not showing anything.
The start time for the 3am final plenary delegates had been told to wait for has come and gone. One delegate has tweeted that there is a crowd waiting outside the main plenary room but, for now, they’re not being allowed in. Waiting. Waiting.
The plenary will be streamed on this YouTube page, if you also enjoy waiting for things.
The term “developing countries that are particularly vulnerable”, which appears in the latest public version of the loss and damage document, is a phrase that has been used before by the Green Climate Fund, established by the UNFCCC.
It defines these as: “including least developed countries, small island developing states and African states”. It does not exclude any countries, and so may be deemed more acceptable language by richer G77 countries. Of course, we still haven’t seen any final documents so it’s all just speculation at this stage.
“Some hardy delegates took the chance to get some sleep and are now heading back to the Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Centre for what they hope will be the final and closing plenary meeting of this drawn-out Egyptian Cop.
Final hours of Cop meetings often feature officials and delegates in various states of sleep deprivation and it appears this one is no different.
Aruna Chandrasekhar from Carbon Brief has pointed out that the latest version of a text on loss and damage has changed the wording on vulnerable developing countries, something that has reportedly been one of the major causes of delay.
The new text says “developing countries that are particularly vulnerable” instead of “developing countries, especially those that are particularly vulnerable.”
This language would seem to narrow the range of countries the phrase describes slightly, and it’s on ostensibly minor details such as these that Cop agreements can stand or fall.
The Associated Press have an update from Ireland’s environment minister, Eamon Ryan, who said they had not yet seen an overarching draft of the final document.
Here’s their report:
I think everybody’s very unhappy that we’re here, one in the morning, we’re still waiting for the cover text,” said Ryan. “I think that’s very unusual, to say the least.”
Ryan said he wanted to see more “ambition” on emissions cuts that would build on pledges made last year to limit warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial times.
“We’re not satisfied that there’s been sufficient ambition on reducing emissions, and we’re going to have to see what further improvements we can get here, but also come back to it.”
Another hour has just been added to the YouTube counter with the plenary now scheduled for 3am local time (1am GMT). We’ve heard rumours from one delegation that they’ve been told the plenary will be from 3am to 6am, so we could be in for a very long night. But the fact they’re persevering an hour at a time rather than postponing until the morning suggests Egypt must think they can reach a resolution tonight.
I’m Alan Evans, and I didn’t think I’d be picking this blog back up again after kicking it off more than 15 hours ago. Anyway, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @itsalanevans if you have any tips, gossip, or life advice.
Robin McKie, science and environment editor for the Observer, has written about five key issues in the fight to save planet – 1.5C, loss and damage, nature, fossil fuels and adaptation – and what, if anything, Cop27 did about them.
He also reminds us that there’s no rest for environmentalists, with another Cop coming up in a matter of weeks, this one focusing on biodiversity:
Threats [to nature] will be debated intensively at Cop15, the UN biodiversity summit next month. However, no mention of the conference has been made in Egypt despite the strong link between climate change and species loss.”
It’s still a messy picture out there, but this is the latest we are hearing:
The plenary is now expected at around 2am or 3am local time.
There’s cautious optimism on loss and damage, with various sources saying they are confident the facility is in. Reports of negotiations on loss and damage being reopened were, the Guardian has been told, down to a clerical issue (possibly a typo in the text), which has now been resolved.
There are two issues being focused on now, the Guardian understands: the cover decision, and the language around phasing out fossil fuels. On the latter, there is less optimism.
Cop27 has now become the fourth longest Cop ever … and still counting.
I’m Natalie Hanman (email@example.com or @nataliehanman), taking over from Bibi van der Zee.
Further delay to the closing plenary
Nope. Another hour has been added on to the YouTube ticker. As a colleague said earlier, it’s the hope that kills you.
Meanwhile, it looks as if a brief flurry of concern over the loss and damage fund may have calmed down now. Some campaigners were flagging that, at the last minute (although, as we know, there may be many more minutes to come), it looked as if the text was being picked apart, with developing countries walking back on the agreements they had made earlier.
But both Fiona Harvey and Nina Lakhani have been digging in to find out what’s happening and it looks as if the snarl was around procedural issues. The fund is still alive and kicking.
In theory the closing plenary should be starting now. In practice …
In the US, meanwhile, they’re seeing the results of the major lake-effect snow event which has hit the Great Lakes region, with projected snowfalls of between 4-6 feet over a few days in some areas.
According to our Weather Tracker column: “Lake-effect snow occurs when cold air blows across an unfrozen lake that is relatively warm, heating the cold air from below and creating heavy snow showers. These showers often form in narrow quasi-stationary bands, causing significant amounts of snow to fall over a small area. This current event is caused by cold air sourced from Canada, blowing cyclonically around low-pressure located above the Great Lakes, becoming a returning south-westerly or westerly flow depending on location.”
The plenary has now been put back to 0000 EET. It remains to be seen if it will actually happen then.
It may be useful to read my colleague Fiona Harvey’s report on the day so far.
Deep divisions threatened to derail the world’s chances of limiting the climate crisis last night as negotiators struggled to keep nations working together to tackle global heating.
In a day of high drama at the Cop27 UN climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, bitter conflict broke out between wealthy and poorer nations. Some of the world’s poorest countries denounced the rich for delaying action and refusing financial assistance to those suffering devastating extreme weather.
Rich countries sought to argue that rapidly growing economies such as China and oil producers such as Saudi Arabia and other petro-states should contribute to rather than receive from funds to repair climate “loss and damage”.
The UK fought hard throughout the day to keep alive a global vow made last year at Cop26 in Glasgow, of limiting global heating to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. Some nations – including Saudi Arabia, Brazil and at some points China – had threatened to unpick this commitment, weakening the temperature goal and removing the requirement made at Glasgow for countries to update their emissions-cutting plans each year.
That unpicking was unacceptable to many developed and developing countries, which see the Glasgow commitments as a minimum that should be improved on, not rolled back. “What we are seeing is Glasgow minus, and we need to see Glasgow plus,” said one developed country negotiator.
Alok Sharma, the UK’s president of Cop26, warned the Egyptian hosts that the fortnight-long conference would be a failure unless the 1.5C goal was kept alive.
The Egyptian hosts came in for strong criticism over their methods of brokering a deal, by showing drafts of the final text to selected countries individually, rather than allowing them to work together. One veteran delegate called it “un-transparent, unpredictable and chaotic”.
There was also a rare moment of unity, when the US and China unexpectedly patched up their diplomatic row and revived a joint partnership that will mean the world’s two biggest emitters, and biggest economies, cooperate on ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The hour is late and the Cop27 talks have veered close at times to what some feared to be complete collapse, but there is still the occasional sprinkling of optimism to be found around Sharm el-Sheikh.
If it is kept in the final text, the progress on loss and damage, a central theme of the summit for developing countries, is an “historic step”, according to Maisa Rojas, Chile’s environment minister, although she noted much more needed to be done to keep the 1.5C goal viable.
There are still grumbles – the opposition from Russia and Saudi Arabia to any mention of winding down the era of fossil fuels among them – but activists are hopeful of taking away something positive from Cop27.
Meanwhile Jean Su, energy justice director at the Center for Biological Diversity, was full of positivity. “The country pavilions are torn down and the water tanks empty, but the spirits are high. Climate-vulnerable nations and civil society are beaming at a big step forward on creating a loss and damage fund, more than a decade in the making.”
Su said that the openness of the US to phasing out fossil fuels – the Americans are also believed to be largely on board with attempts to create a loss and damage facility – has added to the encouragement. “It shouldn’t feel this surreal, but it seems like for this fleeting moment politicians are listening to the people, not polluters,” she said.
I’ve just been contacted by Alexander Lagaaij with the sad news that the closing plenary has now been put back to 2300 EET.
Lagaaij, by the way, has a blog with photographs of the extraordinary journey he has been making on his bicycle. A nice mental detour from the long negotiations taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh.
There are now reports that Russia and Saudi Arabia are saying that even mentioning “fossil fuels” in the text is an absolute red line, according to Leo Hickman, an ex-Guardian journalist who now runs the excellent Carbon Brief.
Our correspondent Fiona Harvey has just had a brief conversation with the spokesperson for the Egyptian Cop presidency, Ahmed Abu Zeid. Things are “progressing”, apparently.
Aruna Chandrasekhar of Carbon Brief is taking a closer look at the now-published draft text on the funding mechanism for loss and damage.
She points out that the proposal “makes it clear that #LossAndDamageFinance would be housed both under the Paris Agreement and Convention”, which will be reassuring to many.
There would be “new funding arrangements to complement and include sources, funds and initiatives under and outside the Convention and Agreement,” she adds.
Her colleague Josh Gabbatiss is going into the details too:
He notes: “They’ve thrown in an extra ‘particularly vulnerable’ which – as I’m sure is clear to everyone – is apparently different to ‘most vulnerable’.”
The final plenary was originally due to start at 1900 EET, and was then pushed back to 2100 EET. It has since been pushed back again, to 2200 EET.
There are currently 253 people (including us) watching a blank feed.
This is Bibi van der Zee, by the way, taking over from Natalie Hanman.
US unlikely to block loss and damage fund
UN climate summits work by consensus, which means any nation can block an agreement. In the closing plenary at Cop26 in Glasgow last year, India almost brought the Cop president Alok Sharma to tears by demanding that “phase out coal” was watered down to “phase down”.
A potential flashpoint for the closing plenary at Cop27 is the establishment of a loss and damage fund, which would provide money for poorer nations to rebuild after climate disasters. The US has long opposed this, fearing that – as the world’s biggest polluter over time – it could face huge liabilities.
But it looks unlikely that the US will block the loss and damage fund that is in the current draft text. A person close to the negotiations has just told my colleague Fiona Harvey: “The US is working to sign on [on loss and damage].”
The New York Times is also reporting that the US is willing to accept the creation of a loss and damage fund, while a source told Reuters the US is working to find a way it can agree to the proposal.
“Tiny, tiny” things need to be resolved before a climate deal is finalised at the Cop27 summit in Egypt, the special representative to the Cop president has said. “We’re doing our best. Tiny, tiny things to work out,” Wael Aboulmagd told Reuters when asked whether a deal was near.
The closing plenary session is currently scheduled for 9pm local time, though it has been repeatedly put back throughout the day.
Scientists in the UK have also been sharing their views with journalists as Cop27 enters the final stages. Here’s a selection:
Prof Kevin Anderson, professor of energy & climate change at the Tyndall Centre, University of Manchester, said:
A year on from the Glasgow COP26, a further 40 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide has been spewed into the atmosphere, the post-Covid skies are again streaked with aircraft vapour trails and the oil and gas majors are enthusiastically drilling to hell and back, thanks to new licences issued by so-called climate-progressive governments.
Set against this, another miserable facade of climate concern grinds to its ‘Groundhog’ end in the holiday resort of Sharm el-Sheikh … Offering superficially measured accounts of ‘this minor success’, ‘that improvement in wording’ or of a ‘few financial crumbs begrudgingly thrown at poorer nations’ only feeds into the business-as-usual circus that annual COP cycles have become.
Reasoned careful analysis and honest brokering are prerequisites of successful outcomes, but they are far from sufficient. As it is, they risk legitimising what is an increasingly corrupt and immoral process. As we burn through the carbon budget for a 50% chance of not exceeding 1.5C, at 1% every month, perhaps those genuinely concerned about climate change need to shout loud and long for an alternative structure for COP28.”
Dr Elena Cantarello, principal academic in sustainability science at Bournemouth University, said:
Like with any other COPs, more could have been done. However, there was progress on several fronts. Loss and damage was for the first time put on the agenda and there was appreciation of the moral case that climate change has been largely caused by industrialised countries but worst impacts are felt by those who have contributed the least to the problem …
The so called ‘just energy transition partnership’ process to do big deals for countries like Indonesia is very exciting. However, as COP27 is closing, it looks like they are still going to decide on ‘phasing down’ of fossil fuels and not ‘phasing out’ in line with the scientific evidence.”
Prof Piers Forster, director of the Priestley International Centre for Climate at the University of Leeds, said:
It is all too easy to write COP27 off as a confused failure. But weaning the world off the heroin of fossil fuels was never going to be a cakewalk. The harrowing evidence of loss and damage presented at COP27 shows that continued fossil fuel use has become too expensive for the world to bear. In the negotiations, it was clear that countries want to quit the habit, even though they are still squabbling over who pays the rehab bill.”
Dr Sugandha Srivastav, postdoctoral researcher in environmental economics, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford, said:
Even though we have international negotiations every year, our focus should be on what we do in the space between these. We must reinvigorate and energise climate-conscious citizen groups and green businesses. We should focus on the narrative of co-benefits and win-wins – there’s not enough of that.”
Dr James Dyke, of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute, said:
I struggle to understand how anyone can continue to argue that 1.5 is still alive. I certainly don’t believe any politicians involved in COP27 have any intentions of implementing the transformative policies that 1.5 now demands.
We are now entering a much warmer and more dangerous world. Loss and damages will increase, along with more human suffering and more destruction of the natural world. There is no way to spin this other than a colossal failure.
One thing that can be salvaged from this situation is that we now have an opportunity to learn from this failure. If the UNFCCC cannot produce transformative change, then we must urgently organise and generate effective action using other means. We can’t take back the emissions we have poured into the atmosphere, but there is still a future that we can choose for ourselves.”
National delegates have been commenting as the negotiations at Cop27 enter the endgame in this round up from Reuters.
Susana Muhamad, Colombia’s environment minister, says:
“We hope to have two things which will make this a valuable Cop. One, this commitment to 1.5C with clear decisions and no backing back. And second, that the loss and damage fund will be fundamental. But one without the other, it doesn’t make sense, because otherwise we will be accepting catastrophe, and not pushing forward towards avoiding the worst of climate change.”
Romina Pourmokhtari, Sweden’s climate minister, says:
“It is not acceptable that we will fund the consequences of climate change [via a loss and damage fund] while not also committing to working on the actual consequences of the emissions.”
Chris Bowen, Australia’s climate change minister, says:
“Australia’s position is clear and strong: there can be no sliding back from Glasgow and the text should be strengthened where possible.”
Kunal Satyarthi, India’s negotiator on loss and damage, says:
“Everybody was flexible for the cause of loss and damage and the disasters and people dying and the economy being lost. I thank all the parties ... who were not flexible initially, but who [are] flexible now.”
As we on the Guardian’s environment desk revise our weekend rota for the likely possibility that negotiations go on and on, Carbon Reporter has been keeping track of how Cop27 compares with previous Cops in terms of a late finish.
It’s 19.32 local time in Sharm el-Sheikh, so that puts it in the top 10 – for now, between Warsaw and Bali … but let’s see where we end up.
I’m Natalie Hanman, head of environment, taking over from Bibi van der Zee for the next few hours. Please send me your thoughts, tips and hopes: firstname.lastname@example.org or @nataliehanman
The “mitigation work programme” is a part of the UN climate negotiations that sets out how countries will deliver emissions cuts to close the large gap between where the world is now and where it desperately needs to be. It is crucial to keeping global heating below the agreed 1.5C limit and is therefore a potential flashpoint as Cop27 nears its conclusion.
The new agreement for the programme proposed by the Egyptian presidency does say it would run until 2030, rather than just a year as some nations wanted. But it also rules out any new targets or goals, according to Tom Evans, policy advisor at thinktank E3G. That would mean no faster timelines for the delivery of better emissions-cutting pledges from countries, or setting dates by which coal should be phased out, or global emissions should peak.
“The text talks about a transition to renewable energy and that’s welcome,” Evans said. “But there is nothing in there on fossil fuels, meaning there’s nothing in there on the actual cause of climate change.”
A Saudi Arabian delegate told delegates on Friday afternoon: “We should not target sources of energy, we should focus on emissions. We should not mention fossil fuels.”
Given that no one knows exactly when this will all end, a nap is an extremely good idea.
Issues around Loss and Damage continue to be in play
OK, we are now hearing that the draft text was altered during the afternoon to include a phrase important to the EU, which is to prioritise “particularly vulnerable countries” as recipients of the fund.
The EU’s concern is that the fund should not be used by countries with significant economic resources of their own – and often with high oil revenues – that are still classed as developing because the definition of developing countries has not changed since 1992 when the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed.
Countries such as Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia could be eligible for funds if the definition of recipients was merely “developing countries”.
Will the G77 bloc find that acceptable? It’s problematic because it seems as if there are different versions of the text on this very sensitive issue circulating at the same time.
Nina Lakhani has been speaking to Meena Raman at Third World Network, who points out that the phrase “developing countries” is in the original convention, and is defined by geographies. So even if the EU wants to exclude some countries, the convention has the final say. Harjeet Singh at Climate Action Network agrees with this analysis: “It doesn’t exclude any country but prioritises the vulnerable ones.”
This is a good take on the state of play from Tan Copsey at ClimateNexus.
All the countries at Cop27 will have digested the texts on key climate issues that were proposed by the Egyptian presidency, deciding what they can swallow and what they can’t. The heads of delegations are due to meet with the Cop presidency in a private meeting soon. If they can all more or less agree on the texts, quite possibly with some changes, then the closing plenary should go ahead this evening.
The High Ambition Coalition (HAC) of nations has just set out its stall for the endgame of Cop27, which will play out in a closing plenary session. As UN climate summits work on consensus, any nation can block proposals in the decision texts, but the fact the plenary is scheduled would normally indicate the presidency of the Cop thinks agreement is close.
The HAC position was set out by Tina Stege, climate envoy for the Marshall Islands. She was flanked by the UK’s Alok Sharma, the Cop26 president, and Jennifer Morgan, representing Germany, among others.
“As we watch the devastating impacts of climate change this year, and the multiple and interrelated crises that grip our world, exacerbating the suffering of the poor, marginalised and vulnerable, we come together to say that we must emerge from Cop27 with a package of outcomes that keeps 1.5C alive and protects the world’s vulnerable.”
“The Cop27 decision must reflect that we hold fast to our commitment to 1.5C and recognise the IPCC [scientists’] finding that to keep 1.5C in reach, global emissions must peak before 2025 at the latest. This Cop decision must put the world on a path to phasing out all fossil fuels and an urgent, just transition to renewables.”
Currently, the proposed text does not call for the phasing out of all fossil fuels and some recalcitrant nations are known to oppose including text on an emissions peak by 2025.
Stege also said: “[The Cop decision must] support the agreement on new funding arrangements for loss and damage, including a loss and damage response fund at Cop27, and recognise that we will need to sprint together to operationalise this response in the coming year.” The establishment of a fund to help vulnerable nations rebuild after climate disasters was the key demand for Cop27 from developing nations.
Stege also called for the “affirmation of the importance of accountability for climate finance commitments”. That is likely to refer to the failure of rich nations to deliver a promised $100bn a year to poorer nations, which has seriously undermined the trust of developing nations in the UN climate talks.
The plenary is scheduled to start at 6pm local time. Only then will we see just how hard nations are prepared to fight for their goals.
'Very constructive' discussions between China and US, but no change on finance issues
My colleague Fiona Harvey is reporting that China and the US have renewed their partnership to tackle the climate crisis, and are working closely and productively on ways of bringing down greenhouse gas emissions, according to China’s head of delegation.
The surprise news from Xie Zhenhua, who briefed a small group of journalists at the Cop27 UN climate summit in Egypt on Saturday, comes as a rare moment of progress amid a conference mired in bitter fighting between developed and developing countries.
Xie said he and John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy for climate, had enjoyed “very constructive” discussions. “We have had a close and active dialogue, that was overall very constructive. [We want to] ensure the success of Cop27 and exchange opinions on our differences.”
His words reflected a warm and personal dialogue. “I have a lot of respect for Mr Kerry. I admire his professional attitude and love. We have been working together for 20 years and share a common wish.” Xie revealed on Saturday that they intended to carry on with formal meetings after Cop27, in the hope of forging greater progress on vital issues such as low-carbon technology and reducing emissions of methane, the powerful greenhouse gas.
He said: “We have agreed that after this Cop we will continue formal conversations, including face-to-face meetings.”
However, he is refusing to budge over China’s status as a developing country, which has been one of the many themes of the talks.
Xie repeated the Chinese position that it was still a developing country, and as such had no obligation to provide financial assistance to poor nations. He said China voluntarily provided help to countries in Latin America, Africa and elsewhere, including help with early warning systems of extreme weather, access to renewable energy technology, and “capacity building” for governments.
“[In a] loss and damage fund, if there is any fund, the responsibility to provide funds lies with developed countries,” he said. “That is their responsibility and obligation. Developing countries can contribute on a voluntary basis.”
He added: “The recipients should be developing countries. I hope it will be provided to fragile countries first … and those who need it most, first.”
More reaction on the draft text on loss and damage, this time from Nick Dearden, the director of Global Justice Now, who is calling on the UK to support the proposal.
“This draft text on loss and damage is a sliver of hope for vulnerable countries who are already facing the devastating impacts of the climate crisis and have fought tooth and nail for this outcome. It is a testament to their decades of perseverance that we even have loss and damage on the agenda at all.
“There are huge battles ahead to ensure this move results in additional, equitable funding arrangements for loss and damage, but for now, we call on the UK in these final hours to support this text and use its position to ask the EU and US to do the same.”
It seems as though governments have agreed on the text for article 6, the controversial carbon markets part of the Paris accords.
The text was adopted without debate during the final negotiations this morning amid applause and cheers that states could now move to implementation.
It sends the issue of whether carbon removal projects (such as carbon capture and storage) could be considered suitable for credits back to the UN supervisory board, and is basically kicking the decision down the road to next year.
The new text doesn’t appear to include any guidance on ensuring the revised recommendations are in line with science, international law, human rights or the rights of Indigenous peoples. It also doesn’t require that governance procedures – such as an independent grievance mechanism that was agreed in Glasgow – are established before implementation of article 6, though the supervisory board will hold consultations. Lastly, the text doesn’t lock in the requirement for transparency mechanisms, leaving the potential for confidentiality clauses that would allow countries to hide who is using offsets, when they use them, and to what aim.
Corporate watchdogs and Indigenous rights groups are very concerned that existing loopholes have been expanded. Rachel Rose Jackson from Corporate Accountability said: “These outcomes are only worthy of celebration if you are either a carbon marketeer about to profit immensely, or the global north governments who are locking in their ability to recklessly use offsets and removals – without required human rights and other safeguards – to ignore their obligation to actually reduce emissions. This is not reflective of keeping 1.5 alive.”
Erika Lennon, senior attorney at Centre for International Environmental Law (Ciel), said there was little to cheer about. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results, this is exactly what is happening at Cop27. Without reference to human rights, international law and science in the guidance there is a high risk that the supervisory body once again will fail people and Indigenous communities around the world while setting the world on a course to blow past 1.5C.”
My colleague Nina Lakhani has been getting some more reaction on the most recent draft text on loss and damage. Andres Mogro, finance negotiator for the G77 and China, told the Guardian he welcomed the news of the fund. “We hope that when it becomes operational it can reflect the level of urgency and the needs of developing countries. A big responsibility is now in the hands of the committee that will design the fund.”
At this stage of Cop, most of the corporate stands are being dismantled and the cafes are being packed up. World leaders have all gone home, or off to another global meeting.
Now it’s just the delegates and campaigners, huddling in corridors and meeting rooms, or getting a bit of fresh air outside for a moment, and trying to hammer out the deal.
It’s been an extremely busy morning at the summit in Sharm el-Sheikh. Here’s a quick summary of events so far this morning.
The day began in some disarray, with grave concerns that the target of keeping global warming to within 1.5C of pre-industrial levels was at risk. The EU bloc went as far as saying that they would rather have “no decision than a bad decision”
Australia’s climate minister confirmed that there had been significant disputes over 1.5 during the talks.
Meanwhile the Egyptian presidency of Cop was coming in for increasing criticism for the way it had run negotiations. But the Cop president, Sameh Shoukry, said the latest text would keep the 1.5C target alive.
Campaigners warned that the state of the discussions was so polarised and incoherent that, according to David Tong of Oil Change International, they “were on the verge of a breakdown”.
John Kerry, the US climate change negotiator, is in isolation with Covid-19.
Spain’s environment minister, Teresa Ribeira, announced her willingness to walk out in protest if she felt that the deal was backtracking on “what we already did in Glasgow”.
But then a new batch of draft texts were distributed, and these have seen far more positive responses, although still with plenty of qualifications. Of specific interest is a potential call to reform the global financial system and, more importantly, a proposal for a fund for loss and damage which is so far being welcomed by some of the developing countries and campaigners.
However it does not call for “phase down of all fossil fuels”.
Let’s see what the afternoon brings.
Proposal for vital loss and damage fund welcomed by developing nations
Is the gloomy mood of this morning at Cop27 starting to lift? A new draft text that would see a loss and damage fund established is being welcomed by some developing nations and campaigners. The fund, to provide poorer, vulnerable nations money to rebuild after climate disasters, is the key demand from the global south at the summit.
Alpha Oumar Kaloga from the Guinea delegation told my colleague Nina Lakhani he is overjoyed at the progress on loss and damage.
“It’s a very exciting moment, after 30 years of patience, 30 years of struggle, 30 years of trying to get recognition and concrete action on loss and damage. This is now a path, we have arranged a new funding arrangement that will address loss and damage in developing countries particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. Developed countries wanted to pick and choose which countries would benefit, but now we have an agreement that all developing countries will be eligible. This is a unique and exciting moment.”
Meena Raman, the Malaysia-based director of the Third World Network and an expert on the Cop negotiations, also welcomed the new text, reports Nina Lakhani. “This was the result of a united G77 and China under the leadership of Pakistan, who had the strong moral voice to speak up for those who have died or been devastated by climate disasters,” said Raman. “It is the best possible compromise given the intransigence of the developed world.”
Joe Lo, from Climate Home News, says Harjeet Singh, from Climate Action Network, has welcomed the new text.
Of course, there may be further twists and turns, as nations can raise late objections. It is not over until everything is agreed by everyone.
Money has always been critical to UN climate talks, but even more so at Cop27. That’s because rich nations have failed to deliver on their promise of $100bn a year by 2020 to fund emissions cuts and projects to protect against extreme weather. Furthermore, the impacts of global heating are hitting increasingly hard from Pakistan to Puerto Rico, meaning funds to rebuild are urgently needed.
One of the biggest ideas to raise big sums is major reform of the global financial system and in particular the World Bank, IMF and other multilateral development banks. That has been championed by prime minister Mia Mottley of Barbados, but also supported by France and other large economies.
Now the reform proposal has made it into the draft of the Cop27 decision text. If it remains there at the end, it will be a first:
There is much more on climate finance in this article, published just before Cop27:
Latest draft of Cop27 decision text does not call for 'phase down of all fossil fuels'
The new draft texts on the key issues at Cop27 are flooding in now, and Simon Evans at Carbon Brief is ploughing through them (see the two previous posts).
Evans notes this is only a proposal from the Egyptian Cop27 president: “One very conspicuous absence is any reference to phasing fossil fuels down, or out. Instead it copies Glasgow Cop26 text on coal phase down and ‘inefficient’ fossil fuel subsidy phaseout.”
India and the US had supported putting “phase down all fossil fuels” in the text. More on that here, from earlier in the week:
As well as a new draft text on “long term finance” (see previous post), Simon Evans at Carbon Brief has been looking at the new draft on loss and damage, the issue of funding for vulnerable nations to rebuild after unavoidable climate disasters.
A loss and damage fund is the critical demand by developing nations at Cop27, and this text would deliver it.
New draft texts on key issues here at Cop27 are being released, and Simon Evans at Carbon Brief has been keeping a close eye on them.
The “cover decision” is the final Cop27 statement agreed by nations, which is politically very important. The $100bn is the annual sum rich nations promised to deliver to poorer, vulnerable countries by 2020. They have failed to do so, hugely undermining levels of trust between countries.
More on that here:
Zahir Fakir, from the South African delegation, has a grim analogy for the stage reached by the Cop27 negotiations:
He is likely to be referring to some countries holding fast on their positions while others end up giving up on their goals.
Harjeet Singh, the India-based head of global political strategy for Climate Action Network, a coalition of 1,900 civil society groups in 150 countries, said the 1.5C commitment being stressed by the EU and other countries was meaningless if rich polluting nations didn’t pay their climate debts:
“How can we stay below 1.5C when rich countries continue to invest in fossil fuels and refuse to do their fair share of climate action, while failing to provide adequate climate finance to developing countries to support the just energy transition.”
The Centre for International Environmental Law (Ciel) is worried about the final text on carbon markets (article 6.4 in the Paris agreement), which is intended to set the rules for the controversial trade in carbon credits. Erika Lennon, senior attorney at Ciel, said the latest text eliminates reference to human rights, including the rights of Indigenous peoples.
“In the last hours of the climate talks, states are yet again showing that they are willing to sacrifice people in order to postpone meaningful climate action and shield corporate profits.”
Without reference to human rights, international law, and science in the guidance, there is a high risk that the “supervisory body” once again will fail people and Indigenous communities around the world, while setting the world on a course to blow past 1.5C, Lennon said.
A key criticism levelled at rich, developed nations at the UN climate talks is that many are still enabling new fossil fuel exploitation, as Tasneem Essop, executive director of Climate Action Network, says here:
The International Energy Agency has been clear that new fossil fuel projects are not compatible with reaching net zero emissions by 2050, and ending the climate crisis. In the first week of Cop27, a report from NGO Urgewald revealed oil and gas companies were planning a “frightening” expansion that would result in 115bn tonnes of climate-heating CO2 being pumped out, equivalent to more than 24 years of US emissions.
More strong reaction to how events are unfolding at Cop27 from Spain’s environment minister, Teresa Ribera, via Associated Press.
She said Spain was willing to walk out if a “fair” deal could not be sealed at the UN climate talks. “We could be exiting of course,” she said. “We won’t be part of a result that we find unfair and not effective to address the problem that we are handling, which is climate change and the need to reduce emissions.”
Ribera said she is “concerned” that a draft of the final document may not include a mention of the 1.5C global heating limit target set in Paris in 2015.
She said she did not want to see a result “that may backtrack what we already did in Glasgow,” referring to the renewed commitment to the 1.5C goal at the Cop26 climate summit last year.
She also criticised the Egyptian presidency, which is running the summit, saying the process has been “very confusing”. She said: “It is not clear and we are running out of time.”
There is always brinkmanship at Cops, but it is clear things are not going at all well in Sharm el-Sheikh. Only one Cop has ever failed to reach conclusion – Cop6 back in 2001, according to Arthur Wyns:
Draft agreement 'abandons really any hope of achieving 1.5C', says New Zealand minister
The Associated Press has some ministerial reaction to the latest draft of the final Cop27 agreement.
New Zealand’s climate minister, James Shaw, said the draft circulated by the Egyptian presidency running the negotiations “has been received quite poorly by pretty much everybody”. He called the draft “entirely unsatisfactory”, adding that the proposal “abandons really any hope of achieving 1.5C”, the global heating limit agreed in the Paris agreement back in 2015.
Shaw said the delegations were going into another round of talks: “Everybody wants an outcome on loss and damage and everybody wants to keep 1.5 alive. So that’s what we’re going to keep doing.”
German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said responsibility for the fate of the UN climate talks “now lies in the hands of the Egyptian Cop presidency”.
She said the EU had made clear overnight that “we will not sign a paper here that would bury the goal of 1.5C degrees”.
Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the European Commission, tweeted this earlier:
Cops are always a test of stamina for delegates, struggling by on little sleep, and in Sharm el-Sheikh on little food and coffee.
Now there is a new metric on how long the negotiations will last.
For those unaware, the UK tabloid newspaper the Daily Star grabbed attention during the recent ill-fated premiership of Liz Truss by running a webcam to see whether she or a lettuce would last longer. The lettuce won.
UN secretary general António Guterres, read the riot act to delegates on Friday, urging them to act. So far, it hasn’t worked.
More on how Guterres has been ramping up his blistering attacks on climate inaction and the fossil fuel industry here:
A typically trenchant take on Cop27, and indeed all Cops, from Guardian columnist George Monbiot, who has not been in Egypt.
The US, as the world’s biggest economy and biggest emitter of CO2 over time, is always central to Cop negotiations. But the veteran leader of its delegation, John Kerry, will not be on site today, having caught Covid. The US statement said:
Secretary Kerry is self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19 in Sharm el-Sheikh. He is fully vaccinated and boosted and experiencing mild symptoms. He is working with his negotiations team and foreign counterparts by phone to ensure a successful outcome of Cop27.
The endgame of Cops sees negotiators shuttling between rooms and huddles, and not being on the scene will make it hard for Kerry.
Situation 'deeply worrying' with talks 'on the verge of a breakdown', warn civil society groups
Civil society groups have held a press conference, with some veteran activists saying this is the closest they have seen UN climate talks come to breaking down completely, and there is a real risk that could happen.
David Tong, a campaigner with Oil Change International based in New Zealand, said he had been to eight Cops, including Durban in 2011 which did not finish until the Sunday morning. He said he had never seen a situation like this morning’s in Sharm el-Sheikh, where a major player in the talks – the EU – and the Cop27 president had given back-to-back press conferences that were at odds with each other to the point of indicating there was no agreement in sight.
“Every Cop reaches a strange challenging endgame and at every Cop I’ve seen we reach a point where it looks like negotiations might collapse, but this looks like something else,” Tong said.
“Negotiations are on the verge of a breakdown even more so than in other years. We have not seen the text,” he said. “As we understand it, parties have not been given a copy of the text. They have been shown the text. We’re hearing conflicting things about what the text is saying, but what we’re hearing is deeply worrying.”
Tong said any final text must not backslide on what was agreed in the Glasgow pact at Cop26, needs to establish a fund to finance loss and damage, protect the goal of aiming to limit global heating to 1.5C, and reflect the clear scientific conclusion that the world needs to phase out fossil fuels.
It is worth remembering that, back in 2015, countries asked the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to look at the impacts of 1.5C of heating. The IPCC found the difference between that goal and 2C was vast in terms of the catastrophic damage that would be suffered, particularly in vulnerable countries.
I’m taking over the live blog now – I’m Damian Carrington, environment editor at the Guardian. Send me your news and views on Cop27 by email at email@example.com or via Twitter @dpcarrington (DMs open).
No one knows how long it will take for the world’s countries to come to an agreement in Egypt, but it’s looking possible the negotiations will drag on into Sunday. Extra time is usual at Cops, but they have been overrunning by more and more as Joe Goodman, from Carbon Brief, has charted here:
The unenviable record was set by at Cop25 in Madrid in 2019, which did not end until 1:54pm on the Sunday. Exhausted negotiators will be praying a new record will not be set at Sharm el-Sheikh.
The main sticking point of Cop27 has been over the creation of a loss and damage fund – finance provided by rich nations to poorer ones to help them prepare for and recover from the worst impacts of climate breakdown.
Some, especially in the rightwing press, have framed this as “reparations”, a highly loaded term. It’s also misleading, as under article 8 of the Paris climate agreement it is explicitly made clear that loss and damage “does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation”.
Some activists, however, say that people should be talking about reparations, as it was the industrialisation of the west that made it rich and is now causing terrible impacts in countries that did not profit.
Fiona Harvey, Nina Lakhani and Damien Gayle have dug into the thorny issue of how to discuss climate finance in this excellent piece:
Asad Rehman, the director of War on Want and one of the most outspoken figures at the climate talks, takes issue with EU climate chief Frans Timmermans’s “No decision is better than a bad decision” comment:
Some people have interpreted the EU’s move to support the creation of a loss and damage fund as a tactic to divide the G77 bloc of vulnerable countries from China, historically an ally at climate talks.
My colleagues Ruth Michaelson and Patrick Greenfield have been looking at Saudi Arabia’s change in tactics at climate talks, which have moved from outright obstruction to a focus on carbon capture and storage, a technology which is still in its infancy but on which the kingdom’s carbon targets rely.
Critics say the move is designed to buy time to be allowed to continue to produce fossil fuels rather than switching to renewable energy.
Read the full piece here:
Cop27 president insists text does keep 1.5C target alive
Cop27 president Sameh Shoukry has just been talking to the media, and my colleague Adam Morton was listening. The Egyptian presidency is coming in for increasing criticism on how it is handling the negotiations.
Shoukry said the delegates had worked through the night but that this had not resulted in any clear direction towards consensus on the key issues of keeping the 1.5C target alive and funding for loss and damage caused by climate disasters.
Shoukry said the presidency had provided a text for the final Cop decision that was balanced, incorporating language, ideas that reflected views of all countries. He said that text constituted a basis for moving forward, while none of the country groupings could say that all of their interests had been met. He said the text did keep 1.5C alive, contrary to the fears of the EU.
The issue now rests with the will of the countries, or parties as they are called at Cops. “It is the parties that must rise to the occasion,” said Shoukry. “The world is watching, time is not on our side, and all must show flexibility. What we’re doing is providing the environment that can accommodate the position of various parties.” There is never a perfect solution, he said.
He would not comment directly on the EU’s concerns: “Every party has a full right to join consensus or not join consensus.”
In response to criticism of the presidency, Shoukry said it had been fully involved all through the two weeks of Cop27, especially on issue of loss and damage.
What to expect today
It’s going to be a busy and confusing day at Cop27, so here’s what you need to know to understand what is going on.
First, the UN climate summits work by consensus. That means there are no votes and instead countries must all agree on decisions, or at least not be strongly opposed. As a result, the talks always go into extra time, as nations hold out for their goals.
The consensus mechanism places a huge responsibility on the Cop president, in this case Sameh Shoukry, Egypt’s foreign minister. He must guide countries firmly but fairly to common ground. But the presidency is getting a lot of criticism for not pushing countries harder sooner. One observer said: “Veterans are now branding this the worst organised Cop in 30 years.”
You also need a bit of history to understand the negotiations. Back in 1992 when the UN climate treaty was created, it divided the world into developed and developing nations. The treaty put the responsibility to act and to fund climate action on the developed countries.
But in 1992, only a couple of dozen nations were deemed developed, mostly western European nations, plus the US, Australia and Japan. Today, the world is very different. China’s economy is huge, other nations have got rich on fossil fuels, such as Saudi Arabia, and South Korea is highly developed. Many of the countries dubbed developing in 1992 are now major polluters too.
This change has created serious tensions at Cops for years. The developed nations think the onus should no longer be on them alone to pay for climate action. The 1992 developing nations argue that the division is written into the treaty and must be respected. They also point out that developed nations haven’t in any case fulfilled their promise to deliver $100bn in annual climate funds.
The tension over the division is why the EU proposal on loss and damage is so striking. It promises the fund demanded by poor nations, to help rebuild after unavoidable climate disasters, but requires nations like China to contribute. The loss and damage issue is crucial at Cop27, but critics of the EU proposal say it only promises funding to the very poorest and most vulnerable countries, potentially excluding nations like Pakistan which suffered catastrophic floods this year.
More on that from Fiona Harvey here:
Egyptian Cop27 president Sameh Shoukry is giving a press conference. He says negotiators worked through the night and that countries will be given more time to look at the texts. He insists the text keeps the 1.5C target alive and says the majority of parties who have seen the texts consider them “a basis on which to move forward”. Not language that sounds as though we’ll be wrapping up any time soon.
My colleague Adam Morton spoke to Australia’s climate minister, Chris Bowen, last night, who said that some countries were pushing to water down the language agreed at Paris and Glasgow, but that he and others had been pushing to keep it:
“It’s important because if we’re not trying to keep to 1.5C, then what are we here for? Because the difference between 1.5C and 1.7C in terms of the impact on the planet is enormous.”
Read the full story here:
EU: 'No decision better than a bad decision'
AFP is reporting that a French minister has said the Egyptian conference hosts are proposing a text that is “unacceptable”:
The European Union on Saturday rejected as “unacceptable” a proposal from UN climate summit host Egypt for a deal at Cop27, a French official said, saying it was insufficiently ambitious on reducing carbon emissions.
“At this stage, the Egyptian presidency is calling into question gains made in Glasgow on emissions reduction,” the official from the French energy transition ministry said, referring to the outcome of last year’s Cop26. “This is unacceptable for France and for European Union countries.”
The EU climate chief, Frans Timmermans, has just given a press conference, where he said he believes a deal is possible but that the EU “would rather have no decision than a bad decision”.
No new texts have emerged overnight, so the second draft is still the most recent that has been made public. Fiona Harvey has read between the lines of it to work out what’s been settled and what’s still a long way from being agreed:
Fears 1.5C target in peril as Cop27 overruns
Hello, and welcome to the Guardian’s ongoing live coverage of the Cop27 climate conference. It was supposed to finish yesterday evening, but to nobody’s surprise has been extended by a day.
The mood this morning is sombre, and it appears the target agreed at the Paris Cop of holding global heating to within 1.5C of pre-industrial levels may be at risk. Frans Timmermans of the EU tweeted this this morning:
We’ll be here bringing you the latest news and developments as they happen, but in the meantime you can catch up on what happened yesterday here:
I’m Alan Evans, and you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @itsalanevans.