Cop27 bulletin: John Kerry has Covid

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As expected, Cop27 went into overtime. The pavilions are being packed and the venue’s food and water supplies are drying up. This is when negotiations intensify.

Vulnerable countries are closer than ever to getting what many have been hoping for – a dedicated facility for loss and damage finance.

The EU opened the door to this, giving the US holdout responsibility for a deal with China. Climate envoys from two countries spent hours in the same room on Thursday night and unfortunately, one of them caught Covid.

At the methane ministerial meeting on Thursday, John Kerry said he had a cold but tested negative for Covid. US State Department spokeswoman Whitney Smith said Friday morning that he had tested positive. Smith said his symptoms were “mild” and he had worked all day from his hotel.

That’s a shock. Police deals are still done in person, often on the floor of a full hall.

During last year’s closing plenary, Kerry walked from group to group with promises, assurances and threats to close the deal.

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American negotiators will still do this. But dialing in a bedridden boss risks slowing things down.


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The Trillion Dollar Question: Who Pays?

The key to unlocking negotiations is finding a way forward on who pays for climate damage in vulnerable countries.

“If you can get an agreement on the damages and damage funding piece, I think everything falls into place,” said Alden Meyer of E3G.

This is easier said than done. The EU opened the door this year to establishing a loss and damage fund, with conditions: China and other nations with the capacity to do so must pay and only the most vulnerable countries can receive the money. But there is no list of who falls into each camp.

The EU said it must go hand-in-hand with tough emissions cuts to prevent worsening impacts. “This is our final proposal,” said Frans Timmermann, the EU’s climate chief.

Where America stands on this will be critical. There was a proposal yesterday to agree to a “funding arrangement” that would include a dedicated fund, hoping to win Washington over.

Money will come from public and private sources. Insurance, debt relief and global taxation on oil and gas could be part of the mix. Details will have to be worked out to make it operational by 2024. This would be a great move from America but will it fly?

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Despite the lack of enthusiasm from Egypt’s president, some are still trying to get fossil fuels under cover text. Colombia is taking the baton from India and has drafted a text with the UK calling for it to phase out all fossil fuels.

“If we don’t have a commitment to mitigation, there may be a fund for losses and damages but no fund will cover the devastating consequences of climate change,” said Colombia’s Environment Minister Susana Muhammed.

We will soon find out if they are successful, with the next draft expected on Saturday morning.


In summary…

China does not have to pay – China is all about expanding the donor base for climate finance. But an ODI analysis found China is still poor and emits less per capita. Qatar, Singapore and Israel were found to be more logical targets.

Chaos in Brussels – Luxembourg became the latest to announce its withdrawal from the Energy Charter Treaty on Friday. The European Council failed to agree on a joint position on whether to approve the reforms at its conference on Tuesday. The reform would allow countries to stop protecting fossil fuel investments.

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Elsewhere in Egypt – While leaders were speaking at Cop27 last Tuesday, Alaa Abd al-Fattah tried to kill himself in his prison cell, his family said. On Friday, the same day US President Joe Biden and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi traded jokes, he collapsed and received an IV.

Brazilian propaganda – The outgoing Brazilian government is showing a clever virtual reality film in its pavilion at Cop27. In the video, the government claims it is trying to bring renewable energy to the Amazon and promote development while preserving nature. It does not mention deforestation.

Lack of customization – The Adaptation Fund has received $230 million in new pledges and contributions through 2022. Germany was the largest donor with about $60 million, followed by the US with $50 million. Other European nations and Japan contributed. The fund said it still has a pipeline of $380 million worth of unfunded projects.

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