In the US, meanwhile, they’re seeing the results of the major lake-effect snow event which has hit the Great Lakes region, with projected snowfalls of between 4-6 feet over a few days in some areas.
According to our Weather Tracker column: “Lake-effect snow occurs when cold air blows across an unfrozen lake that is relatively warm, heating the cold air from below and creating heavy snow showers. These showers often form in narrow quasi-stationary bands causing significant amounts of snow to fall over a small area. This current event is caused by cold air sourced from Canada, blowing cyclonically around low-pressure located above the Great Lakes, becoming a returning south-westerly or westerly flow depending on location.”
The plenary has now been put back to 0000 EET. It remains to be seen if it will actually happen then.
It may be useful to read my colleague Fiona Harvey’s report on the day so far.
Deep divisions threatened to derail the world’s chances of limiting the climate crisis last night as negotiators struggled to keep nations working together to tackle global heating.
In a day of high drama at the Cop27 UN climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, bitter conflict broke out between wealthy and poorer nations. Some of the world’s poorest countries denounced the rich for delaying action and refusing financial assistance to those suffering devastating extreme weather.
Rich countries sought to argue that rapidly growing economies such as China and oil producers such as Saudi Arabia and other petro-states should contribute to rather than receive from funds to repair climate “loss and damage”.
The UK fought hard throughout the day to keep alive a global vow made last year at Cop26 in Glasgow, of limiting global heating to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. Some nations – including Saudi Arabia, Brazil and at some points China – had threatened to unpick this commitment, weakening the temperature goal and removing the requirement made at Glasgow for countries to update their emissions-cutting plans each year.
That unpicking was unacceptable to many developed and developing countries, which see the Glasgow commitments as a minimum that should be improved on, not rolled back. “What we are seeing is Glasgow minus, and we need to see Glasgow plus,” said one developed country negotiator.
Alok Sharma, the UK’s president of Cop26, warned the Egyptian hosts that the fortnight-long conference would be a failure unless the 1.5C goal was kept alive.
The Egyptian hosts came in for strong criticism over their methods of brokering a deal, by showing drafts of the final text to selected countries individually, rather than allowing them to work together. One veteran delegate called it “un-transparent, unpredictable and chaotic”.
There was also a rare moment of unity, when the US and China unexpectedly patched up their diplomatic row and revived a joint partnership that will mean the world’s two biggest emitters, and biggest economies, cooperate on ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
The hour is late and the Cop27 talks have veered close at times to what some feared to be complete collapse, but there is still the occasional sprinkling of optimism to be found around Sharm el-Sheikh.
If it is kept in the final text, the progress on loss and damage, a central theme of the summit for developing countries, is an “historic step”, according to Maisa Rojas, Chile’s environment minister, although she noted much more needed to be done to keep the 1.5C goal viable.
There are still grumbles – the opposition from Russia and Saudi Arabia to any mention of winding down the era of fossil fuels among them – but activists are hopeful of taking away something positive from Cop27.
Meanwhile Jean Su, energy justice director at the Center for Biological Diversity, was full of positivity. “The country pavilions are torn down and the water tanks empty, but the spirits are high. Climate-vulnerable nations and civil society are beaming at a big step forward on creating a loss and damage fund, more than a decade in the making.”
Su said that the openness of the US to phasing out fossil fuels – the Americans are also believed to be largely on board with attempts to create a loss and damage facility – has added to the encouragement. “It shouldn’t feel this surreal, but it seems like for this fleeting moment politicians are listening to the people, not polluters,” she said.
I’ve just been contacted by Alexander Lagaaij with the sad news that the closing plenary has now been put back to 2300 EET.
Lagaaij, by the way, has a blog with photographs of the extraordinary journey he has been making on his bicycle. A nice mental detour from the long negotiations taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh.
There are now reports that Russia and Saudi Arabia are saying that even mentioning “fossil fuels” in the text is an absolute red line, according to Leo Hickman, an ex-Guardian journalist who now runs the excellent Carbon Brief.
Our correspondent Fiona Harvey has just had a brief conversation with the spokesperson for the Egyptian Cop presidency, Ahmed Abu Zeid. Things are “progressing”, apparently.
Aruna Chandrasekhar of Carbon Brief is taking a closer look at the now-published draft text on the funding mechanism for loss and damage.
She points out that the proposal “makes it clear that #LossAndDamageFinance would be housed both under the Paris Agreement and Convention”, which will be reassuring to many.
There would be “new funding arrangements to complement and include sources, funds and initiatives under and outside the Convention and Agreement,” she adds.
Her colleague Josh Gabbatiss is going into the details too:
He notes: “They’ve thrown in an extra ‘particularly vulnerable’ which – as I’m sure is clear to everyone – is apparently different to ‘most vulnerable’.”
The final plenary was originally due to start at 1900 EET, and was then pushed back to 2100 EET. It has since been pushed back again, to 2200 EET.
There are currently 253 people (including us) watching a blank feed.
This is Bibi van der Zee, by the way, taking over from Natalie Hanman.
UN climate summits work by consensus, which means any nation can block an agreement. In the closing plenary at Cop26 in Glasgow last year, India almost brought the Cop president Alok Sharma to tears by demanding that “phase out coal” was watered down to “phase down”.
A potential flashpoint for the closing plenary at Cop27 is the establishment of a loss and damage fund, which would provide money for poorer nations to rebuild after climate disasters. The US has long opposed this, fearing that – as the world’s biggest polluter over time – it could face huge liabilities.
But it looks unlikely that the US will block the loss and damage fund that is in the current draft text. A person close to the negotiations has just told my colleague Fiona Harvey: “The US is working to sign on [on loss and damage].”
The New York Times is also reporting that the US is willing to accept the creation of a loss and damage fund, while a source told Reuters the US is working to find a way it can agree to the proposal.
“Tiny, tiny” things need to be resolved before a climate deal is finalised at the Cop27 summit in Egypt, the special representative to the Cop president has said. “We’re doing our best. Tiny, tiny things to work out,” Wael Aboulmagd told Reuters when asked whether a deal was near.
The closing plenary session is currently scheduled for 9pm local time, though it has been repeatedly put back throughout the day.
Scientists in the UK have also been sharing their views with journalists as Cop27 enters the final stages. Here’s a selection:
Prof Kevin Anderson, professor of energy & climate change at the Tyndall Centre, University of Manchester, said:
A year on from the Glasgow COP26, a further 40 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide has been spewed into the atmosphere, the post-Covid skies are again streaked with aircraft vapour trails and the oil and gas majors are enthusiastically drilling to hell and back, thanks to new licences issued by so-called climate-progressive governments.
Set against this, another miserable facade of climate concern grinds to its ‘Groundhog’ end in the holiday resort of Sharm el-Sheikh … Offering superficially measured accounts of ‘this minor success’, ‘that improvement in wording’ or of a ‘few financial crumbs begrudgingly thrown at poorer nations’ only feeds into the business-as-usual circus that annual COP cycles have become.
Reasoned careful analysis and honest brokering are prerequisites of successful outcomes, but they are far from sufficient. As it is, they risk legitimising what is an increasingly corrupt and immoral process. As we burn through the carbon budget for a 50% chance of not exceeding 1.5C, at 1% every month, perhaps those genuinely concerned about climate change need to shout loud and long for an alternative structure for COP28.”
Dr Elena Cantarello, principal academic in sustainability science at Bournemouth University, said:
Like with any other COPs, more could have been done. However, there was progress on several fronts. Loss and damage was for the first time put on the agenda and there was appreciation of the moral case that climate change has been largely caused by industrialised countries but worst impacts are felt by those who have contributed the least to the problem …
The so called ‘just energy transition partnership’ process to do big deals for countries like Indonesia is very exciting. However, as COP27 is closing, it looks like they are still going to decide on ‘phasing down’ of fossil fuels and not ‘phasing out’ in line with the scientific evidence.”
Prof Piers Forster, director of the Priestley International Centre for Climate at the University of Leeds, said:
It is all too easy to write COP27 off as a confused failure. But weaning the world off the heroin of fossil fuels was never going to be a cakewalk. The harrowing evidence of loss and damage presented at COP27 shows that continued fossil fuel use has become too expensive for the world to bear. In the negotiations, it was clear that countries want to quit the habit, even though they are still squabbling over who pays the rehab bill.”
Dr Sugandha Srivastav, postdoctoral researcher in environmental economics, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford, said:
Even though we have international negotiations every year, our focus should be on what we do in the space between these. We must reinvigorate and energise climate-conscious citizen groups and green businesses. We should focus on the narrative of co-benefits and win-wins – there’s not enough of that.”
Dr James Dyke, of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute, said:
I struggle to understand how anyone can continue to argue that 1.5 is still alive. I certainly don’t believe any politicians involved in COP27 have any intentions of implementing the transformative policies that 1.5 now demands.
We are now entering a much warmer and more dangerous world. Loss and damages will increase, along with more human suffering and more destruction of the natural world. There is no way to spin this other than a colossal failure.
One thing that can be salvaged from this situation is that we now have an opportunity to learn from this failure. If the UNFCCC cannot produce transformative change, then we must urgently organise and generate effective action using other means. We can’t take back the emissions we have poured into the atmosphere, but there is still a future that we can choose for ourselves.”
National delegates have been commenting as the negotiations at Cop27 enter the endgame in this round up from Reuters.
Susana Muhamad, Colombia’s environment minister, says:
“We hope to have two things which will make this a valuable Cop. One, this commitment to 1.5C with clear decisions and no backing back. And second, that the loss and damage fund will be fundamental. But one without the other, it doesn’t make sense, because otherwise we will be accepting catastrophe, and not pushing forward towards avoiding the worst of climate change.”
Romina Pourmokhtari, Sweden’s climate minister, says:
“It is not acceptable that we will fund the consequences of climate change [via a loss and damage fund] while not also committing to working on the actual consequences of the emissions.”
Chris Bowen, Australia’s climate change minister, says:
“Australia’s position is clear and strong: there can be no sliding back from Glasgow and the text should be strengthened where possible.”
Kunal Satyarthi, India’s negotiator on loss and damage, says:
“Everybody was flexible for the cause of loss and damage and the disasters and people dying and the economy being lost. I thank all the parties … who were not flexible initially, but who [are] flexible now.”
As we on the Guardian’s environment desk revise our weekend rota for the likely possibility that negotiations go on and on, Carbon Reporter has been keeping track of how Cop27 compares with previous Cops in terms of a late finish.
It’s 19.32 local time in Sharm el-Sheikh, so that puts it in the top 10 – for now, between Warsaw and Bali … but let’s see where we end up.
I’m Natalie Hanman, head of environment, taking over from Bibi van der Zee for the next few hours. Please send me your thoughts, tips and hopes: firstname.lastname@example.org or @nataliehanman
The “mitigation work programme” is a part of the UN climate negotiations that sets out how countries will deliver emissions cuts to close the large gap between where the world is now and where it desperately needs to be. It is crucial to keeping global heating below the agreed 1.5C limit and is therefore a potential flashpoint as Cop27 nears its conclusion.
The new agreement for the programme proposed by the Egyptian presidency does say it would run until 2030, rather than just a year as some nations wanted. But it also rules out any new targets or goals, according to Tom Evans, policy advisor at thinktank E3G. That would mean no faster timelines for the delivery of better emissions-cutting pledges from countries, or setting dates by which coal should be phased out, or global emissions should peak.
“The text talks about a transition to renewable energy and that’s welcome,” Evans said. “But there is nothing in there on fossil fuels, meaning there’s nothing in there on the actual cause of climate change.”
A Saudi Arabian delegate told delegates on Friday afternoon: “We should not target sources of energy, we should focus on emissions. We should not mention fossil fuels.”
Given that no one knows exactly when this will all end, a nap is an extremely good idea.
OK, we are now hearing that the draft text was altered during the afternoon to include a phrase important to the EU, which is to prioritise “particularly vulnerable countries” as recipients of the fund.
The EU’s concern is that the fund should not be used by countries with significant economic resources of their own – and often with high oil revenues – that are still classed as developing because the definition of developing countries has not changed since 1992 when the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed.
Countries such as Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia could be eligible for funds if the definition of recipients was merely “developing countries”.
Will the G77 bloc find that acceptable? It’s problematic because it seems as if there are different versions of the text on this very sensitive issue circulating at the same time.
Nina Lakhani has been speaking to Meena Raman at Third World Network, who points out that the phrase “developing countries” is in the original convention, and is defined by geographies. So even if the EU wants to exclude some countries, the convention has the final say. Harjeet Singh at Climate Action Network agrees with this analysis: “It doesn’t exclude any country but prioritises the vulnerable ones.”
This is a good take on the state of play from Tan Copsey at ClimateNexus.
All the countries at Cop27 will have digested the texts on key climate issues that were proposed by the Egyptian presidency, deciding what they can swallow and what they can’t. The heads of delegations are due to meet with the Cop presidency in a private meeting soon. If they can all more or less agree on the texts, quite possibly with some changes, then the closing plenary should go ahead this evening.
The High Ambition Coalition (HAC) of nations has just set out its stall for the endgame of Cop27, which will play out in a closing plenary session. As UN climate summits work on consensus, any nation can block proposals in the decision texts, but the fact the plenary is scheduled would normally indicate the presidency of the Cop thinks agreement is close.
The HAC position was set out by Tina Stege, climate envoy for the Marshall Islands. She was flanked by the UK’s Alok Sharma, the Cop26 president, and Jennifer Morgan, representing Germany, among others.
“As we watch the devastating impacts of climate change this year, and the multiple and interrelated crises that grip our world, exacerbating the suffering of the poor, marginalised and vulnerable, we come together to say that we must emerge from Cop27 with a package of outcomes that keeps 1.5C alive and protects the world’s vulnerable.”
“The Cop27 decision must reflect that we hold fast to our commitment to 1.5C and recognise the IPCC [scientists’] finding that to keep 1.5C in reach, global emissions must peak before 2025 at the latest. This Cop decision must put the world on a path to phasing out all fossil fuels and an urgent, just transition to renewables.”
Currently, the proposed text does not call for the phasing out of all fossil fuels and some recalcitrant nations are known to oppose including text on an emissions peak by 2025.
Stege also said: “[The Cop decision must] support the agreement on new funding arrangements for loss and damage, including a loss and damage response fund at Cop27, and recognise that we will need to sprint together to operationalise this response in the coming year.” The establishment of a fund to help vulnerable nations rebuild after climate disasters was the key demand for Cop27 from developing nations.
Stege also called for the “affirmation of the importance of accountability for climate finance commitments”. That is likely to refer to the failure of rich nations to deliver a promised $100bn a year to poorer nations, which has seriously undermined the trust of developing nations in the UN climate talks.
The plenary is scheduled to start at 6pm local time. Only then will we see just how hard nations are prepared to fight for their goals.
My colleague Fiona Harvey is reporting that China and the US have renewed their partnership to tackle the climate crisis, and are working closely and productively on ways of bringing down greenhouse gas emissions, according to China’s head of delegation.
The surprise news from Xie Zhenhua, who briefed a small group of journalists at the Cop27 UN climate summit in Egypt on Saturday, comes as a rare moment of progress amid a conference mired in bitter fighting between developed and developing countries.
Xie said he and John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy for climate, had enjoyed “very constructive” discussions. “We have had a close and active dialogue, that was overall very constructive. [We want to] ensure the success of Cop27 and exchange opinions on our differences.”
His words reflected a warm and personal dialogue. “I have a lot of respect for Mr Kerry. I admire his professional attitude and love. We have been working together for 20 years and share a common wish.” Xie revealed on Saturday that they intended to carry on with formal meetings after Cop27, in the hope of forging greater progress on vital issues such as low-carbon technology and reducing emissions of methane, the powerful greenhouse gas.
He said: “We have agreed that after this Cop we will continue formal conversations, including face-to-face meetings.”
However, he is refusing to budge over China’s status as a developing country, which has been one of the many themes of the talks.
Xie repeated the Chinese position that it was still a developing country, and as such had no obligation to provide financial assistance to poor nations. He said China voluntarily provided help to countries in Latin America, Africa and elsewhere, including help with early warning systems of extreme weather, access to renewable energy technology, and “capacity building” for governments.
“[In a] loss and damage fund, if there is any fund, the responsibility to provide funds lies with developed countries,” he said. “That is their responsibility and obligation. Developing countries can contribute on a voluntary basis.”
He added: “The recipients should be developing countries. I hope it will be provided to fragile countries first … and those who need it most, first.”
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/live/2022/nov/19/cop27-fears-15c-target-danger-negotiations-overrun-live Cop27 live: clashes over key issues as talks head into the night | Cop27