Adaptation finance and nature-based solutions were just a few of the hot topics that sent the IPCC talks into overtime.
Negotiations on how to summarize the science of climate impacts in the UN’s latest bombshell report Climate Home News has the details.
As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IGPCC) online talks reached an impasse on Saturday, adaptation finance, nature based solutions and solar geengineering were some of the most contentious topics.
Sources close to the media said that key phrases and figures were being removed from the summary for policymakers, (SPM) by a group of developed countries, including the US, France, Spain and Norway.
These include the US seeking to replace the mention of adaptation finance with “investment” and pushing for greater emphasis on the role of the private funds. The government representative objected to putting a percentage range on the amount of climate finance to developing nations that has gone to adaptation, even though scientists had “high confidence” in the 4-8% figure.
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Developing countries, led by India, reportedly stood their ground and the term “finance for adaptation” appears in the final SPM, albeit without concrete figures.
The US also led efforts to replace the term “losses and damages” with “adverse impacts” – but ultimately only succeeded in adding words. A draft SPM obtained by Climate Home two weeks ago said climate change had caused “widespread losses and damages to nature and people”. Monday’s final version instead references “widespread adverse impacts and related losses and damages”.
“The Biden administration is not only shutting their eyes to the reality of the climate crisis – they’re trying to blindfold the rest of the world too,” said Teresa Anderson, climate policy coordinator at ActionAid International.
“They appear to wear a badge of climate leadership, while doing all they can to block those most in need from getting help. It’s dishonest and utterly shameful.”
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Observers said that developed nations lobbied hard for references to the benefits of “nature-based solutions” (NbS) – projects such as conservation and tree-planting – to be included in the summary. This led to opposition from several countries, including South Africa.
Some view the term as deflecting responsibility from fossil fuel burners. It appeared in a main paragraph of the draft SPM, but in the final version it has been relegated to a footnote, stating: “The term is the subject of ongoing debate, with concerns that it may lead to the misunderstanding that NbS on its own can provide a global solution to climate change.”
The concept of “overshoot” – temporarily exceeding temperature caps before cooling off later this century – also provoked intense debate. The attempt by vulnerable countries to include a reference to the Paris Agreement temperature goal 1.5C in the section’s heading was unsuccessful.
And, at China’s insistence, a footnote appears in the final SPM qualifying that there is limited evidence on the impacts of temporary 1.5C overshoot.
Sources monitoring the talks say that the US was the only country to request that a draft paragraph refer to solar radiation modification (SRM), CO2 removals (CDR), and carbon capture and storage as a single block.
Other countries also pushed for SRM separation which could cool the planet but does not address the underlying cause of heating – that is, levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
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Sources said the US “aggressively fought” for a “balanced” statement that took five hours of side huddles at the virtual talks to resolve. SRM was to be considered separately from carbon sequestration and emission reduction options. The US tried to get rid of SRM entirely due to the emphasis on its risks.
The final SPM states that SRM would “introduce a widespread range of new risks to people and ecosystems, which are not well understood”.
Many developing countries rejected the draft that portrayed migration as a way to adapt to climate impacts. The link was dropped from the final summary. They also pushed successfully for a mention of “past emissions”.
While they wanted language acknowledging specifically that past emissions had constrained their development options, the final phrasing is more nuanced: “Past and current development trends (past emissions, development and climate change) have not advanced global climate resilient development.”
Source: Climate Change News