Cop27 bulletin: John Kerry has Covid

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As expected, Cop27 went to extra time. The pavilions are packed and the site’s food and water supplies are running low. In this case, the negotiation becomes more intense.

Vulnerable countries are closer than ever to achieving what many thought would never happen – a dedicated instrument to finance losses and damages.

The EU opened the door and put the onus on the US to make a deal with China. The climate commissioners of the two countries spent hours together in a room on Thursday evening, and unfortunately one of them caught Covid.

At Thursday’s methane ministerial meeting, John Kerry said he had a cold, but his Covid test was negative. US State Department spokeswoman Whitney Smith said he tested positive on Friday morning. Smith said her symptoms were “mild” and she had been working from her hotel all day.

It’s a blow. Cop deals are still made in person, often on the floor of the plenary chamber.

In last year’s closing plenary session, Kerry moved from group to group, making promises, assurances and threats to close the deal.

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American negotiators will continue to do so. But having to dial a bedridden boss slows things down.


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The trillion dollar question: Who pays?

The key to unlocking the negotiations is finding a way forward on who will pay for climate damage in vulnerable countries.

“If we can come to an agreement on how to fund the losses and damages, then I think everything else will fall into place,” said Alden Meyer of E3G.

This is easier said than done. The EU this year opened the door to the creation of a loss and damage fund, with conditions: China and other nations capable of doing so would have to pay, and only the most vulnerable countries would receive money. But there is no list of who belongs to each camp.

According to the EU, this should be accompanied by a sharper reduction in emissions in order to prevent worsening effects. “This is our final offer,” said EU climate chief Frans Timmermans.

Where the United States stands on this front will be critical. A proposal for a “funding arrangements” deal, which would include a dedicated fund, emerged yesterday in the hope that it would side with Washington.

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The money would come from public and private sources. A global tax on insurance, debt relief, and oil and gas tax could be part of the mix. The details must be worked out in order to make it operational by 2024. This would be a huge step from the US, but will it fly?

Despite the lack of enthusiasm from the Egyptian presidency, some are still trying to include fossil fuels in the cover text. Colombia takes the baton from India and has drafted a text with the UK to phase out fossil fuels.

“If we don’t have mitigation obligations, there may be a fund for losses and damages, but no fund will cover the catastrophic consequences of climate change,” said Colombian Environment Minister Susana Muhamad.

We will soon find out if it was successful, another draft is expected on Saturday morning.


Short…

China shouldn’t have to pay – The talk about expanding the donor base of climate finance is focused on China. However, an ODI analysis found that China is still too poor and low-output to pay per capita. Qatar, Singapore and Israel are more logical destinations, they concluded.

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Chaos in Brussels – Last Friday, Luxembourg announced that it was withdrawing from the Energy Charter Treaty. At Tuesday’s conference, the European Council was unable to form a common position on the ratification of the reforms. The reform would allow countries to stop protecting fossil fuel investments.

Elsewhere in Egypt – While the leaders were speaking at Cop27 last Tuesday, Alaa Abd el-Fattah attempted suicide in his prison cell, his family said. On Friday, the same day US President Joe Biden and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi exchanged jokes, collapsed and were fed intravenously.

Brazilian propaganda – The outgoing Brazilian government is exhibiting a simple virtual reality film in the Cop27 pavilion. The video claims that the government is making efforts to bring renewable energy to the Amazon and promote development while protecting nature. He does not mention deforestation.

Lack of adaptation – The Adaptation Fund received $230 million in new pledges and contributions in 2022. Germany was the largest donor with nearly $60 million, followed by the United States with $50 million. Other European nations and Japan contributed. The fund says it still has $380 million worth of unfunded projects.

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