Crunch time for UN climate talks as Friday deadline looms

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — Global climate talks approached crunch time on Friday, with the final day of talks expected to exceed the deadline as the chances of a deal remained unclear.

The European Union made a surprise proposal late on Thursday that could help boost the chances of a deal. The proposal would link compensation for climate catastrophe with tougher emissions cuts, two of the thorniest issues at the meeting.

EU climate chief Frans Timmermans said on Friday that the bloc’s proposals for funding for loss and damage and mitigation were “final proposals” seeking to “find a compromise” between countries, as negotiators Seeking a way forward in UN climate talks in Egypt.

In climate negotiations, loss and damage means that rich countries that have historically contributed the most to climate change should compensate the worst-affected developing countries. Mitigation refers to efforts to slow global warming, such as substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Timmermans said he was “encouraged” by the immediate response to the proposal and expected more participation.

“It’s about avoiding failure,” Timmermans said. “We can’t afford to fail. Now, if our steps forward don’t pay off, then obviously we will fail. But I hope, I hope, we can avoid that.”

The 27-nation EU proposal offers a two-pronged approach that would generate a fortune for poor countries and push for deeper cuts in heat-trapping emissions in all countries, as well as a phase-out of all fossil fuels, including gas and oil.

Loss and damage have become a flashpoint in the COP27 climate talks, which began two weeks ago. Poorer countries bearing the brunt of climate change, from rising sea levels to extreme flooding, have been building a sense of urgency, blaming rich polluters that contribute most to planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions to stop them. They insisted they could not wait another year to set up a fund to pay compensation.

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Olivia Zhang contributed to this report.

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