On November 15th, all eyes were on the G20 Summit where news that the meeting between Presidents Biden and Xi had been broadly positive–including instructions for officials to re-engage on climate change–along with the announcement of funding to help Indonesia move away from reliance on coal-fired energy, served as a welcome boost to the mood in Sharm.
With just three full days now remaining in the official program, the focus is on the language of the end-of-COP declaration which will require unanimous support from participating governments. As with last year’s declaration, a large part of the debate is around how to treat fossil fuels. In Glasgow, the “phase out” language for coal was amended at the last moment to “phase down.” This year, India, one of the main opponents of the “phase out” language on coal, has suggested an agreement to “phase down” all fossil fuels. This may be an effective distraction technique: such language would broaden the focus away from heavy coal producers, while at the same time broadening attention to major oil and gas producers, who are likely to resist the language very strongly.
The vexed question of the creation of a “loss and damage” financing facility continues to cause anguished debate. The G77’s statement on loss and damage contrasts with the position of the developed world: “There is 100% unity [in the G77] on this. We want a loss and damage facility established this year. We are pushing for this and not talking about compromises . . . Loss and damage is the main banner headline for this COP, we are not giving up.” The U.S. and EU want to continue talking before deciding whether a new facility is required. The G7 has lent its support to the Global Shield Insurance Initiative designed to assist countries hit by climate disasters; supporters argue this is an important step in the right direction while critics see it as an effort to distract attention from the creation of a serious loss and damage facility.
The focus on adaptation and loss and damage has led to deepening concerns that mitigation may be overlooked as outgoing COP President Alok Sharma stated: “We’ll either leave Egypt having kept 1.5C alive, or this will be the COP where we lose 1.5C . . . The reality is [that] without progress on [cutting emissions] we are going beyond our ability to adapt . . . of course I want to see progress on loss and damage, but unless we stick to [1.5C] all of that is going to be a lot more difficult.”
- A wide range of international media organizations published a joint editorial article calling for a windfall tax on the biggest fossil fuel companies.
- Reports continued to emerge from within the negotiating teams that there was “some pressure” to revise the wording from 1.5 degrees C to the higher 2 degrees C mentioned in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
- A leaked copy of the “Draft COP decision on long-term climate finance” has raised NGO concerns due to watered down commitments on the provision and timing of additional climate finance.
November 16th is Biodiversity Day which will focus on the impact of climate change on biodiversity and initiatives to halt biodiversity loss through nature and ecosystem-based solutions.