February 21, 2024

Ministers and negotiators must come to the meeting crucial final meetings of Cop28 without prepared statements, without rigid red lines, and be prepared to make compromises, the president of the UN climate summit has said.

Sultan Al Jaber, whose position is now crucial to the talks as they enter their final days, has called a meeting on Sunday majlis of all countries a meeting in the traditional form of an elders’ conference in the United Arab Emirates.

Climate talks have reached an impasse over whether to phase out or phase out fossil fuels. Only a day and a half of official negotiating time remains before the two-week summit is set to conclude Tuesday morning.

“I want everyone to be prepared with solutions,” said Al Jaber, who has faced criticism for his other role as head of the UAE’s national oil company Adnoc. “I want everyone to be willing to be flexible and accept compromises. I told everyone not to come with prepared statements and without prescribed positions. I really want everyone to rise above their own interests and think about the common good.”

But there is some optimism emerging from the discussions. Catherine Abreu, Executive Director of Destination Zero, said: “In eight years of attending climate talks, I have never felt more like we were talking about what really matters. Hearing ministers from around the world speak about the reality of phasing out fossil fuels is something I could not have imagined happening in this process two years ago.

“What is clear after this Majlis dialogue on Cop28 is that there is an overwhelming consensus that phasing out fossil fuels and scaling up renewable energy is absolutely necessary to fulfill the promise of the Paris Agreement and keep the hope of 1.5 alive. It is also clear that the task ahead is enormous and will require courage and conviction. Rich countries must provide the financial and technological support to make this possible, and fairness requires that those with greater responsibility act first.”

The issue of the future of fossil fuels is the main sticking point, but not the only one. Developing countries are also angry that their calls for help in adapting to the consequences of the climate crisis were not answered by rich countries during the talks. Adaptation finance refers to the funds needed to improve the infrastructure of poor countries, for example by setting up early warning systems for storms or other extreme weather events, or by building stronger bridges that do not wash away in floods, or to grow mangrove swamps to protect the country. coastlines.

Any ‘balanced package’ that emerges from the talks will need to include much greater reassurances on adaptation financing – poor countries have long sought to double available funding – than is currently tabled.

Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy at the Climate Action Network, a coalition of nearly 2,000 climate groups, expressed concern about the draft text on adaptation, arguing that while “it highlights the financial gap and urges developed countries to funding to double 2019 levels by 2025 … the text does not reflect the urgency and does not mention the latest UN report on the adaptation gap, which states that financing for adaptation should be US$194-366 billion (£155-290 billion) per year ”. He said he was also concerned that there could be further delays in setting specific measurable targets for global adaptation, which is crucial if the summit is to be meaningful.

Al Jaber assured developing countries that their voices were heard. “We will not neglect any issue, we will not neglect, undermine or underestimate any vision or the national conditions of any region or country,” he said.

The Guardian understands that Al Jaber held meetings on Sunday with all the major developing country groups, including the Alliance of Small Island States, which are pushing hard for an unequivocal phase-out of fossil fuels, the Base Countries, the least developed countries and others.

On fossil fuels, the possibility of agreeing on a complete phase-out of fossil fuels is still on the table, but is under intense attack from Saudi Arabia and some other oil-producing countries. China, however It appears that the position has shifted from blocking such a commitment to seeking a compromise.

Before the talks started, Al Jaber said he was working closely with Saudi Arabia, a neighbor and close regional ally of the UAE, in an attempt to broker a deal. He then reported that the country was involved “constructively, with positivity”.

In recent days, countries are relying on Al Jaber to broker a ‘balanced package’ that tackles fossil fuels, keeping the vital goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels within reach and meets the financial needs of developing countries. world.

He called on all countries to take action. “We have a unique opportunity, it is our chance to deliver a result based on science guided by science and equipped by science that keeps 1.5°C within reach. And that will help transform the economies for generations to come,” he said.

He added: “Failure, or lack of progress, or diluting my ambition is not an option. What we pursue is the public interest.”

Diego Pacheco, chief spokesman for the like-minded group of developing countries that also includes China and India, along with oil producers such as Saudi Arabia, Bolivia and Syria, said any agreement on the phase-out or phase-out of fossil fuels would require developed countries to take the lead in providing financial assistance to the poor.

Mary Robinson, chair of campaign group The Elders and former president of Ireland, called on all countries to show real leadership as Cop28 reached its critical final days. “Those at the negotiating table at Cop28 will determine the course of our shared future [but] Science tells us that we are in great danger of leaving our children a completely unlivable world,” Robinson said.

“The countries that are holding back progress are the countries with the largest stakes in fossil fuels, but also the most abundant resources to take action. Saudi Arabia and allies hold conversations hostage. However, it is not the only country hindering progress: the US, China, the EU and India have happily hidden in the shadows.”

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