Egypt: climate conference: no farewell to oil and gas in sight

Frustrated ministers, petrified faces, flaming appeals: After two weeks, many points of contention are still unresolved at the UN climate conference. Does the meeting hit the wall?

In the final sprint at the UN climate conference in Egypt, new text proposals bring movement to the tough negotiations. Almost 24 hours after the planned end, the negotiators from around 200 countries received another official draft for a final declaration on Saturday afternoon.

In the eleven-page paper by the Egyptian conference leadership, all countries are calling for a gradual phase-out of coal. However, the demand by a number of states and climate activists to also bid farewell to oil and gas is not taken up.

Martin Kaiser from Greenpeace told the German Press Agency that the end of oil and gas must also be anchored in the text. Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) should now campaign for this in the last few hours. Annika Schröder from the development organization Misereor predicted a “big fight” for the next few hours.

Is the climate fund for poor countries coming?

There was also movement in the dispute over whether a fund should be set up under the umbrella of the United Nations to compensate poor and particularly vulnerable countries for inevitable climate damage. This means the fatal consequences of global warming such as droughts, floods and hurricanes, but also rising sea levels and desertification.

There was a separate proposal from the conference management on this topic. He plans to set up such a fund, but the amounts are not mentioned. Oxfam’s Jan Kowalzig told the German Press Agency: “It would be an important step forward for people in poorer countries who have been hit by the climate crisis.”

According to the political director of Germanwatch, Christoph Bals, the new texts gave a “much better overall picture”, but a still mixed one. The presidency is working towards a result by early evening.

EU Commissioner: Better no result than a bad one

However, a failure of the conference did not seem impossible over the course of Saturday. EU Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Baerbock warned that, if necessary, they would accept a collapse of the two-week meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh. “We will not agree to any proposals that turn back the 1.5 degree target,” Baerbock clarified after nightly negotiations. And Timmermans said that the union of states would not cross certain red lines. “It’s better to have no result than a bad one.”

In 2015, the international community agreed in Paris to limit warming to 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial times. The world has now warmed up by a good 1.1 degrees, Germany even more. According to scientific warnings, exceeding the 1.5-degree mark significantly increases the risk of triggering so-called tipping elements in the climate system and thus uncontrollable chain reactions.

The call to improve climate protection plans is non-binding

The draft for the final paper also calls on states to improve their largely inadequate climate protection plans by the next climate conference, which will take place in the United Arab Emirates at the end of 2023. This remains voluntary, there is no obligation.

Global Citizen’s Friederike Röder called it “shocking” that the draft does not contain a clear timeline for delivering on the promise to provide $100 billion in climate finance to countries in the Global South. “That promise has now been broken for two years in a row and it is not clear if it will be fulfilled in 2023.”

failure cannot be ruled out

The world climate conference, to which around 34,000 participants traveled, went into overtime on Friday evening. COP President Samih Schukri said the morning after: “There is an equal level of dissatisfaction from all sides.” He dodged the question of a possible failure. “Each party has the full right to join or not join a consensus.”

During the night, there was concern in negotiating circles because delegations were only able to see draft texts by the Egyptian COP presidency for a few minutes. “This is extremely unusual,” said a negotiator. The delegations should not have taken the text with them, but only looked at it for 20 minutes and then commented briefly.

Criticism of the hosts also grew given the delays and a negotiation process that participants describe as chaotic. COP President Schukri acknowledged the displeasure of the participants on Saturday, but played the ball back and said that the responsibility for an agreement lies with the countries. His special representative for the COP27, Ambassador Wael Abulmagd, also rejected criticism of the sluggish and sometimes cumbersome negotiation process and downplayed concerns.


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