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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Welcome to Sharm el-Sheikh: COP27 got underway on Sunday

Under the blazing sunshine of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, surrounded by sea and desert, the Cop27 climate talks got underway on Sunday. For the first time in the history of the UN climate talks, the issue of mobilising finance to help climate victims recover – loss and damage – made it onto the agenda. There will be no talk of liability or compensation (a red line for wealthy nations) and countries agreed to conclude the process within two years.

Negotiators have already spent late nights finalising the agenda. Sameh Shoukry told the opening plenary that consultations went on for a marathon 48 hours before the start of the meeting. At 2.30 am, the Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis) was still assessing the proposal.

But this is an important milestone for the vulnerable nations that have raised the issue for more than 30 years. In a statement, Aosis said this “is our bare minimum”. It opens the door for a substantive conversation on who should pay for climate damages and how.

“Loss and damage have to be credibly addressed and the time has come for us to do so. The real test will be the quality of the discussions. The judgement will be based on the quality of the outcome,” UN Climate Change head Simon Stiell told a press conference on Sunday.

Leaders to watch

110 world leaders start arriving this morning. After they shake hands, mingle awkwardly and take a group photo, they hit the podium at 2 pm local time. Several of the big hitters have stayed away and Joe Biden isn’t expected before Friday. But there could still be some important interventions.

First up is UAE president Mohamed bin Zayed, host to Cop28 in 2023. He is expected to reference the UAE’s work with the US on climate-smart agriculture (which is controversial) and clean energy. Look out for gas boosterism.

Kenyan president William Ruto will speak on behalf of the African group of negotiators. Ruto is a proponent of leapfrogging to renewables “rather than trudging in the fossil-fuel footsteps of those who went before”.

Colombia’s new leftist president Gustavo Petro has pledged to phase out fossil fuels and is pushing for debt forgiveness in exchange for protecting the Amazon.

Indonesia’s vice-president Maruf Amin may hint at how coal-to-clean energy partnership talks are going. Any official announcement is likely to wait until the G20 leaders’ summit in Bali next week.

Mohamed bin Salman will tout Saudi Arabia’s “green initiative” and renewable plans – less oil used at home means more to export. Has his vision for economic diversification survived the latest oil price boom?

Europeans take to the stage late afternoon, starting with Germany. Chancellor Olaf Scholz is set to outline the “Global Shield” Initiative to insure vulnerable populations against climate disaster. The controversial “climate club” could also get airtime. The idea is for ambitious carbon cutters to put up trade barriers against laggards.

Finally, Italy’s far-right prime minister Giorgia Meloni makes one of her first outings on the world stage. Her government comes fresh from watering down fossil fuel financing commitments – but then so did the preceding technocratic one led by Mario Draghi.

In parallel, three roundtables are taking place between leaders, heads of international organisations and civil society representatives. The themes are just transition, food security and innovative finance for climate and development.

Source: Climate Home News

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