The COP26 climate talks enter their final day with vulnerable countries determined not to let negotiations close without agreement on substantial funding from rich nations.
Disagreements over finance stalled progress yesterday, with the attitude of the US and Europe both coming in for criticism from the global south.
Among the issues in dispute were the fulfilment of a decade-old pledge to guarantee a high level of annual adaptation funding to help countries climate-proof their economies and infrastructure.
The fund moved closer to the $100bn-a-year target during these talks, but the text of a draft agreement calls for that to be scaled up urgently.
Disagreement over separate funding for ‘loss and damage’, which would provide emergency relief and rebuilding funds after climate-related disasters, was more entrenched.
Dr Saleelmul Huq of the Bangladesh delegation said rich countries would have to be “shamed” into accepting their responsibilities for building their economies on fossil fuels now putting developing nations in peril.
“Germany lost 200 people and suffered €30bn loss and damage from a small flood,” Mr Huq said, referring to last July’s disaster.
“In Bangladesh we have 10 times bigger floods but nothing to pay for loss and damage. In Europe they are paying for their own citizens but not for ours.”
Minister for Climate Action Eamon Ryan agreed the loss and damage issue was causing difficulties. However, he said Ireland’s position was that while loss and damage should be funded, a separate funding structure would involve unnecessary replication of bureaucracy.
He said some ideas in circulation in the negotiations around how funding could be provided included giving poor countries access to ‘special drawing rights’ from the International Monetary Fund so they did not have to resort to expensive borrowing.
Multiple strands of negotiations were continuing last night, with more fresh draft agreement texts due before a meeting of ministers from all nations at 11am this morning.
Aside from finance, the inclusion of a commitment to enhanced efforts on mitigation – cutting emissions to stem global temperature rise – was also causing tensions.
It emerged that at one point, a group of 22 nations who are part of the Like-Minded Developing Countries group, which includes China and India, proposed deleting the entire section on mitigation in protest that developing countries were being asked to make the same percentage emissions cuts as rich nations.
Talks president Alok Sharma said in his last press conference of the day: “We still have a monumental challenge ahead of us.”
Another sticking point was the proposed commitment to phase out fossil fuels and fossil fuel subsidies.
Large oil, gas and coal producing countries want to keep supplying the fuels while attempting to offset emissions with technology or natural solutions.
Mr Ryan, who earlier in the day signed Ireland up to become a founding member of the new Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, said the phase-out text needed to stay in.
“I think it’s vital that we do keep that language in,” he said. “How can we be subsidising something that’s edging us closer to the abyss?
“That language has to remain strong.”
Demonstrations led by the Fridays for Future school strikers are planned for outside the COP26 venue this morning.