By The Associated Press
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — Germany’s foreign minister said the European Union is serious about delivering climate justice for poor countries suffering disastrous impacts of global warming, urging other major polluters to put up or shut up when it comes to providing financial support for those in need.
“We’re making clear that Europe is on the side of the most vulnerable states,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said. “Others can now show which side they are on.”
“Spending money is not an end in itself, but it is about ensuring justice,” Baerbock said.
She added that with the bloc’s offer now public, “nobody can hide behind the European Union.”
Baerbock acknowledged that industrialized countries who were “mainly responsible for global warming up to now should also pay for the damage and losses as a matter of priority.”
But she warned that excluding major polluters and not also requiring them to cut their emissions would “be a totally wrong incentive system.”
Baerbock added that unless emissions are reduced more steeply, “no money in the world could pay for the damages and losses of the future.”
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Antigua and Barbuda’s environment minister says they have concerns about an EU proposal on loss and damage funding for countries vulnerable to climate change made late Thursday at U.N. climate talks.
Molwyn Joseph, who spoke on behalf of small island states, said there are parts of the EU’s offer that need “adjusting,” without adding more details.
“We will wait until we meet and bilaterally to discuss the areas of concern,” he said.
Joseph met Friday with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock for talks on operationalizing loss and damage financing and said he will also hold separate talks later with China and the United States.
“We need an agreement at COP right now. That’s what we need, an agreement among all the parties,” Joseph said, adding there is a “strong possibility” to achieve an agreement on loss and damage funding by Saturday.
Dozens of nations spearheaded by island nation Vanuatu say they will seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on countries’ legal obligations to protect people who suffer from the impacts of climate change.
Vulnerable nations and other states, including New Zealand and the Alliance of Small Island States, supported the move.
“AOSIS will benefit greatly from this initiative … The moment of this advisory legal opinion is now,” said Antigua and Barbuda’s environment minister Molwyn Joseph, who spoke on behalf of small island sates.
Vanuatu environment and climate minister Ralph Regenvavu welcomed the growing coalition of nations in support of the move.
On U.N. climate talks, which are set to end today although likely to go into the weekend, Regenvavu said there was renewed hope following an EU proposal late Thursday night for a loss and damage fund.
“Overnight circumstances changed and we hope for a loss and damage deal today,” he said. “We are happy with the progress made so far.”
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Friday morning that the EU’s proposal late Thursday on a fund for vulnerable countries suffering the impacts of climate change was “a big step” in U.N. climate talks in Egypt.
The talks, set to end today but likely to go into the weekend, were buoyed by the EU offer that tied loss and damage funding for nations vulnerable to climate change with cuts to planet-warming gases.
Asked whether China will participate in such a loss and damage fund, Baerbock replied: “We are arguing massively for it.”
Baerbock said that “industrial nations carry responsibility for the past” and their wealth was built on using fossil energy. She added that “now we want to take our responsibility for the future together and that’s why we are arguing so much for countries such as China but also other big emitters also to participate in the future in supporting the weakest in the world together.”
But Baerbock did not think an agreement would could quickly.
“I packed my suitcase for the whole weekend,” she told German television.
EU climate chief Frans Timmermans said Friday that a proposal made by the bloc on funding for loss and damage and mitigation is “a final offer” that seeks to “find a compromise” between nations as negotiators seek a way forward at the U.N. climate talks in Egypt.
The EU Executive Vice President made a surprise offer late Thursday on tying compensation for climate disasters to tougher emissions cuts.
Timmermans said he was “encouraged” by immediate reaction to the proposal and more engagement on the offer is expected Friday.
“This is about not having a failure here,” said Timmermans. “We we cannot afford to have a failure. Now, if our steps forward are not reciprocated, then obviously there will be a failure. But I hope I hope we can avoid that.”
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