‘Small victory for humanity’: US and EU accept climate payments
The announcement was met with loud applause in the summit meeting room, after talks stretched through Saturday into the wee hours of Sunday local time. Delegates then asked for half an hour to consider the final draft of an agreement on which they had placed all hope that this conference would show that governments intend to accelerate their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. greenhouse or switch away from fossil fuels.
The deal was reached after weeks of grumbling from developing countries over US greed, a slight meltdown in frosty relations between Washington and Beijing and a last-minute threat from European negotiators to abandon talks. Appearances by President Joe Biden and Brazil’s new leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva punctuated the UN summit, US climate envoy John Kerry came in with Covid-19 at the critical moment, and delegates complained about food shortages and a river of sewage that ran through the complex of negotiation.
By swallowing the climate damages fund, the United States and the European Union have been forced to break with decades of entrenched resistance to compensation for the damage caused by their own greenhouse gas pollution – refusing to d to be pinned down for any form of responsibility. Transatlantic unity has been tested and divided by an organized bloc of 134 developing countries, brought together by flood-stricken Pakistan.
The EU made a midweek shift to back the creation of a fund, further isolating the US, which eventually caved in a move POLITICO reported early Saturday.
Later in the day, the executive vice-president of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, claimed the merit of having “bridged the gap between the different positions”. The maneuver of the Europeans, he says, “led to an opening”.
Filling the new fund with cash will be the next battle. The United States and other developed countries will be under pressure to pledge direct funding under the deal, which does not require congressional approval.
The deal is already facing criticism at home from Republicans, who have consistently opposed Biden’s climate agenda and are expected to take control of the House in January.
“Sending American taxpayers’ money to a UN-sponsored green slush fund is completely wrong,” the senator said. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement. “The Biden administration should focus on cutting domestic spending, not sending money to the UN for new climate deals. “Innovation, not reparations, is the key to the fight against climate change,” he added.
After the fund was approved, the call to dawn prayers rang out over Sharm el-Sheikh. Ministers and diplomats pored over the legal language, trying to decide whether they could accept a deal which – despite a historic new fund – fell short of what many had hoped.