Talks at COP27 aimed at forging global agreement on climate action have run into overtime after stalemate on key issues.
egotiations went on late last night and were due to resume early this morning but with little expectation of conclusion before the end of the day at the earliest.
Climate Minister Eamon Ryan is representing Ireland at the summit and is also leading talks on behalf of the EU on one of the deadlocked issues – loss and damage funding for climate-harmed countries.
He said last night he could not predict the result.
“I can’t give clear certainty about the outcome but we do need a positive deal and we’re going to do everything we can to get it,” he said.
“Even if we don’t manage to get a deal here we will come back because doing nothing is not an option.”
The talks are stuck on a number of issues. There is disagreement on the wording around fossil fuels, with many of the 197 countries present wanting a strengthening of the commitment at COP26 last year to “phase down” coal use.
They want the wording changed to “phase out” and for it to also cover oil and gas.
A draft text of the “cover decision” or end agreement circulated by COP27’s Egyptian presidency yesterday morning did not reflect this.
The addition of a clause that a phase down should be “in line with national circumstances” weakened the COP26 pledge, critics said.
Loss and damage is the most divisive issue. The G77 group of 134 developing countries wants a new fund set up to pay for damage caused by sudden and slow-onset climate-related destruction.
The largest, wealthiest nations balked at this proposal for 30 years and kept it off the formal agenda until this year.
The EU presented what was intended to be a compromise, agreeing to set up a fund with several conditions, including that it be used primarily for the most vulnerable countries.
That quickly drew objections. Chara Tefasa Terafass of the Ethiopian delegation said last night: “They want countries to compete on vulnerability which is immoral.”
The EU proposal also seeks to pull in finance from a wide variety of sources for the fund, including from imposing levies on fossil fuel companies, aviation and shipping.
That proposal surprised many, and critics described it as a distraction or an attempt to wriggle out of taking full financial responsibility – a claim Minister Ryan denied.
The EU is also seeking to tie the loss and damage fund to a greater ambition on cutting greenhouse gas emissions on the basis that the faster emissions fall, the slower climate change happens and the less losses and damages occur.
That too faced objections given the failure of most countries to improve on their emission cuts targets despite committing to do so a year ago.
After initial strong words about taking firm action, the US stance has been weakened by the victory of the anti-climate action Republican party in the mid-term elections. A US response to the proposals is expected this morning.