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UN climate talks near halftime but key issues remain unresolved

UN climate talks near halftime but key issues remain unresolved


SHARM EL-SHEIKH: As the UN climate talks in Egypt near the half-way point, negotiators are working hard to draft deals on awide range of issues they’ll put to ministers next week in the hope of getting a substantial result by the end.
The top US negotiator indicated that a planned meeting on Monday between US President Joe Biden and President Xi Jinping of China on the sideline of the Group of 20 meeting in Bali could also provide an important signal for the climate talks as they go in the home stretch. While all countries are equal at the UN meeting, in practice little gets done without the approval of the world’s two biggest emitters, China and the United States.
The two-week meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh started with strong appeals from world leaders for greater efforts to curbgreenhouse gas emissions and help poor nations cope with global warming. The hosts of last year’s talks in Glasgow said they managed to “keep 1. 5 alive”, including by getting countries to endorse the target in the outcome document. Negotiators are trying to put together a mitigation work programme that would capture the various measures countries have committed to reducing emissions, including for specific sectors such as energy and transport.
Many of these pledges are not formally part of the UN process, meaning they cannot easily be scrutinised at the annual meeting.
A proposed draft agreement circulated early on Saturday had more than 200 square brackets, meaning large sections were still unresolved. Some countries want the plan to be valid only for one year, while others say a longer-term roadmap is needed.
Last year’s meeting almost collapsed over a demand to explicitly state in the final agreement that coal should be phased out. In the end, countries agreed on several loopholes,and there are concerns among climate campaigners that negotiators from nations which are heavily dependent on fossil fuels for their energy needs or as revenue might try to roll back previous commitments.
Rich countries have fallen short on a pledge to pool in $100 billion a year by 2020 in climate finance for poor nations. This has opened up a rift of distrust that negotiators are hoping to close with fresh pledges.
Climate compensation was once considered taboo, due to concerns from rich countries that they might be on the hook for vast sums. But intense pressure from developing countries forced the issue onto the formal agenda for the first time this year. Whether there will be a deal to promote further technical work or the creation of an actual fund remains to be seen.


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