Global climate talks in Egypt headed into their second half on Monday with plenty of uncertainty left over whether there’ll be a substantial deal to combat climate change.
Tens of thousands of delegates from nearly 200 countries, observers, experts, activists and journalists, returned to the conference zone in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh after a one day break.
The UN’s top climate official appealed for constructive diplomacy to match the high-flying rhetoric heard during the opening days of the talks.
“Let me remind negotiators that people and the planet are relying on this process to deliver,” U.N. Climate Secretary Simon Stiell said.
“Let’s use our remaining time in Egypt to build the bridges needed to make progress,” he added, citing the goals of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) as agreed in the Paris climate accord, adapting to climate change, and providing financial aid to vulnerable nations trying to cope with its impacts.
What happens at the G-20 in Bali, as well as the Xi-Biden meetings, will be crucial to what happens at the climate summit. If the G-20 makes progress on climate, it will be easier in Egypt, but if they backslide, especially on the 1.5 goal, it will undermine the climate summit, said Alden Meyer, a long-time observer of U.N. climate meetings with the environmental think tank E3G.
“What the two presidents decide in Bali will play directly into the endgame here in Sharm El-Sheikh,” he said.
One key issue is if the G-20 continues last year’s agreement to make the 1.5 degree climate goal an aim of the G-20 too. If there’s a push to drop it, it would be a setback for climate change fighting, Meyer said.
The “cover decision,” which lays out the political goals, will be key and “discussions of them started late,” Meyer said. Some nations don’t even want one of these all-encompassing documents that often get named after the city they were written, like the Glasgow Climate Pact, while others are pushing for a strong one, he said.
“The negotiators’ job is to not make any concessions until ministers come,” he said.
Some delegates were already talking about the possibility of a walkout by developing nations unless key demands for more aid to poor countries are met during the talks.
A key theme at the COP27 meeting is a call for wealthy industrialized nations that benefited most from industrial activities that contributed to global warming to do more to help poor countries who have contributed little to global emissions. Their demands include compensation for loss and damage from extreme floods, storms and other effects of climate change suffered by developing countries.
The Group of Seven leading economies launched a new insurance system Monday to provide swift financial aid when nations are hit by devastating effects of climate change.
The so-called Global Shield is backed by the V20 group of 58 climate-vulnerable nations and will initially receive more than 200 million euros (dollars) in funding, mostly from Germany. Initial recipients include Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Fiji, Ghana, Pakistan, the Philippines and Senegal.
Ghana’s Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta called it “a path-breaking effort” that would help protect communities when lives and livelihoods are lost.
But civil society groups were skeptical, warning that the program should not be used as a way to distract from the much broader effort to get big polluters to pay for the loss and damage they’ve already caused with their greenhouse gases.
Poorer, vulnerable nations also want financing to help them shift to clean energy and for projects to adapt to global warming.
The talks are due to wrap up on Friday but could extend into the weekend if negotiators need more time to reach an agreement.