Environment ministers warn that the UN climate summit could undo progress

Environment ministers from several countries warned that the UN climate summit in Egypt could undo progress international negotiators have made in recent years.

The Washington Post reported on Saturday that ministers from Canada, New Zealand and Norway said at a news conference negotiators at the Sharm el-Sheikh summit were close to undoing progress made at last year’s summit in Scotland.

They said a proposed draft deal would essentially abandon the goal set out in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement to limit the planet’s warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The countries agreed to limit warming to well below 2 degrees, but preferably to 1.5 degrees.

Canada’s Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said the deal would allow the world’s largest economies to increase their official greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, but ministers did not make clearer how the 1.5 degree target would be undermined.

“We cannot abandon Sharm el-Sheikh by giving up the ability to keep 1.5 degrees Celsius alive,” Guilbeault said. “And right now we are very concerned about what is being proposed.”

The European Union (EU) has raised similar concerns, the Post reported. Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission and the EU’s top climate chief, threatened earlier on Saturday that the EU delegation was ready to walk out of negotiations on the issue, saying it was “completely unacceptable” to European negotiators for the 1.5 degree climate protection level goal “to die here today”.

“We don’t want a result at any price,” he said. “We will not accept a result if it sets us back. All [EU] Ministers, as they told me, like me, are ready to walk away if we don’t have an outcome that lives up to what the world is waiting for, which is that we do something about this climate crisis.”

Ministers from Canada, New Zealand and Norway have thrown their support behind an agreement to tie emission reductions to an agreement to create a financing scheme to cover the damage poorer countries are suffering from climate change, the Post reported.

They said they believe they can reach an agreement with the United States, China and developing countries based on their negotiations.

The creation of a fund that would allow wealthier nations to compensate poorer ones for “losses and damages,” long sought by developing countries, was one of the hottest topics at the conference known as COP27.

The conference was due to end on Friday, but negotiators are continuing talks into the weekend in hopes of reaching an agreement.

Every country at the conference has to agree to a possible deal.

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