In its final week, COP 27 shifts into the results phase as parties both inside and outside begin to ask; what has been achieved?
Loss and Damage
Strong demand from a vocal coalition of climate-vulnerable countries saw the issue of ‘Loss and Damage’ added to the agenda for the first time.
It’s emerging as the central issue that will influence whether the talks are deemed a success or failure.
The EU says it’s open to discussions, but the US has made it clear they would not support any deal that makes wealthy nations legally liable for climate-related damage.
“We want to engage” said John Kerry, US Climate Change envoy. “We have engaged with our friends to work through the proposals,”
Suggestions that payments should be made to ‘compensate’ poor countries, or to represent ‘reparations’ have historically been quashed, but reports from the event suggest that informal discussions have not been shy about discussing the liabilities of rich countries.
China has been largely silent on the issue.
Tougher Climate Commitments
At last year’s event all countries agreed to improve their carbon emissions reduction targets, but so far few have arrived with an update. Australia joins a list of around 24 countries (out of 193) that have delivered updated plans, with the majority of those increasing their targets.
“It’s disappointing. Government decisions and actions must reflect the level of urgency, the gravity of the threats we are facing, and the shortness of the time we have remaining to avoid the devastating consequences of runaway climate change” said the UN Climate Change chief.
This becomes increasingly pressing as new research, released amid the talks, shows global emissions have increased in 2022, and have rebounded above pre-pandemic levels.
Suggestions that the COP 27 official text should state a limit of 1.5C have faced resistance by some countries.
The US EPA did announce a proposal for tougher rules on methane leakage, directed at the oil and gas industry to clean up leaky wells.
US and China Rekindle Climate Talks
Joe Biden’s flying visit to Egypt frustrated many, but it was recognised that major progress was made as talks with China resumed.
The leaders of the world’s largest economies said they would “empower key senior officials to maintain communication and deepen constructive efforts”.
Biden left the summit to fly to Bali for the G20 conference where talks with China would continue. This left John Kerry to speak in formal negotiations with Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua.
“The two countries will jointly work for the success of the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.” Chinese spokespeople said.
So far in Bali Chinese leader Xi Jinping has carried out a series of meetings with the US, and plans meetings with other allies including Australia, France and South Korea.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he was energised by the resuming of high-level talks; “It is not in Australia’s interest to not have dialogue with our major trading partners,” he said.
“I look forward to having a constructive discussion with President Xi tomorrow,”