The issue of ‘loss and damage’ remains a sticking point at COP27, particularly how to compensate poor countries affected by climate change.

US climate envoy John Kerry has tested positive for COVID-19 during United Nations climate talks in Egypt, where negotiators desperately tried to break a deadlock over financing of loss and damage for developing countries ravaged by weather disasters.

Kerry’s illness is adding to the concerns of negotiations, which were scheduled to end on Friday, but are continuing with no clear end in sight.

The talks at the COP27 summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh have come up against the controversial issue of “loss and damage” financing for less developed countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.

“He is fully vaccinated and boosted and has mild symptoms. He is working over the phone with his negotiating team and foreign counterparts to ensure a successful outcome of COP27,” Kerry’s spokeswoman Whitney Smith wrote in a statement late Friday.

Loss and damage remains the main sticking point between rich and poor countries, especially how to compensate countries already ravaged by climate-driven floods, droughts, mega storms and wildfires.

Negotiations, at least those in public, stalled on Friday night as press conferences and plenary sessions were postponed or cancelled. Diplomats said they hoped for late night progress as they changed airline reservations for talks to be extended on Saturday.

“I think we have a long way to go,” said David Waskow, International Climate Director of the World Resources Institute.

“Loss and damage is central to what needs to happen to get this across the finish line,” he said.

Representatives from nearly 200 countries have gathered at COP27 in Egypt for two weeks with the aim of taking action on climate change as the world faces an increasing onslaught of extreme weather events.

For many vulnerable countries, loss and damage is the defining issue of the conference, with some saying the success of the meeting hinges on the establishment of a specific fund.

Wealthier countries, which have earlier hesitated on the issue of compensation fearing unlimited liability, they have accepted that countries in the crosshairs of increasingly destructive climate-induced disasters need financial help. However, they called for a broader pool of donors and for priority to be given to the most climate-sensitive countries as recipients.

Industrialized nations are also eager to shift focus to other critical issues, such as agreeing on emission reduction ambitions and reaffirming a goal to limit average warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levelswhich scientists say is a safer guardrail to avoid the most dangerous climate impacts.

A cascade of climate-driven extremes in recent months – by floods in Pakistan and Nigeria to heat waves and droughts around the world – have drawn attention to the devastating impact of a warming world on emerging economies, as well as small island nations threatened by rising sea levels.

The Group of 77 and China’s coalition of 134 developing countries launched an opening gamble on loss and damage this week, with a proposal to establish a fund during COP27 and operational details to be agreed later.

Pakistan’s Climate Minister Sherry Rehman, whose country chairs the G77+China, told delegates on Friday they were ready to “find common ground” on the subject of the proposed fund.

Several people sit on a wooden raft on flooding water, while a man pushes the raft forward with a large stick
People move to higher ground after their villages are inundated by floods following a breach in Lake Manchar to reduce flooding, Jamshoro district, Sindh province, Pakistan, in September 2022 [Nadeem Khawer/EPA-EFE]

A European Union compromise proposed late Thursday suggested a fund specifically for the most vulnerable countries, saying the money should come from a “broad funder base” – a code for countries including China and Saudi Arabia , who have become richer since being on the list. as developing countries in 1992.

“I have to say that this is our last offer,” Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of the European Commission, told reporters on Friday morning.

Even with new pledges, the world is on track to warm by about 2.5C by the end of the century — enough, scientists say, to trigger dangerous climate tipping points.





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