Water scarcity on the agenda as COP27 climate talks enter week two | Policeman 27

Water and the effects of the climate crisis on water scarcity will be examined on Monday at the UN COP27 climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh as it enters its second week.

The talks are expected to end on Friday, although they are likely to continue until at least Saturday, with new measures and hoped-for commitments on issues from greenhouse gas emissions cuts to financial assistance for poorer nations.

In addition to the formal negotiations, the Egyptian hosts have organized a series of “thematic days”, during which discussions will take place on issues that are fundamental to the climate crisis but which fall outside the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the treaty of 1992 under which the 27th conference is taking place.

Water is of particular concern to guests, as the Nile is still the backbone of Egypt’s economy, agriculture, and culture. Some wonder how the tourist city of Sharm el-Sheikh, where 45,000 delegates gathered for talks, will be able to find water in the future.

Gender is also taking center stage on Monday, with discussions on how women cope with particular problems when it comes to the climate crisis. Research has shown that women and girls are experiencing increased violence in areas affected by climate disasters and that they are at a disadvantage when it comes to crucial issues such as land rights and receiving investment and aid.

The involvement of women and girls is also key to solving the problem. Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and a two-time UN climate envoy who arrived at COP27 on Saturday and who was instrumental in ensuring previous police officers included a “gender plan” for climate, called the climate crisis. “a man-made problem with a feminist solution”.

The focus will shift to civil society on Tuesday. Egypt, an authoritarian state, has a poor record in human rights and prisons are full of dissidents. Civil society activities and protests have been greatly reduced to this policeman and the Guardian has been told of cases of intimidation. Civil society groups will use this day to try to take home the need for freedom of expression as a means of putting pressure on governments on the climate emergency.

Energy is also in the spotlight on Tuesday, with a barrage of expected announcements about new clean energy deals and partnerships in various countries for a “just transition” away from fossil fuels. This means helping people with jobs in the fossil fuel industries move to clean energy jobs.

Wednesday will be biodiversity day. Nature protection and the ways in which it can be combined with combating the climate crisis, such as forest conservation and regrowth, restoration of wetlands and peatlands as carbon sinks, or regrowth of mangrove swamps as barriers against storm surges and rising sea levels. they are known as nature-based solutions in climate jargon.

Nature-based solutions received a lot of attention at COP26, but this was more muted in Sharm el-Sheikh. The next major UN biodiversity meeting, Cop15, will take place in Canada in a few weeks, so expect to learn more about expectations for that conference on Wednesday.

The final thematic day will be Solutions Day on Thursday, when the private sector will be able to showcase new technologies and ideas. There are many green entrepreneurs at COP27 eager to present their ideas; there are also more than 600 delegates known to be from the fossil fuel industry, assiduously courting governments to insist they offer the solution. Discussions are likely that carbon capture and storage is a viable technology and whether hydrogen from fossil fuels is a “Trojan horse” for the oil and gas industry to wash its goods.

Delegates listen to Sameh Shoukry, president of the COP27 climate summit, during an opening session of the summit. Photography: Peter de Jong / AP

Meanwhile, the negotiations themselves will move forward, mainly in closed-door sessions where countries can narrow down their differences. Topics include reducing greenhouse gas emissions to reach the 1.5 ° C target and how to help countries adapt to the impacts of extreme weather conditions, for example by restoring mangrove swamps and coral reefs, building dams, re-growing forests or installing early warning systems. Funding for these efforts, from the rich to the poor world, will also be examined.

Carlos Fuller, the Ambassador of Belize, said: “I am very encouraged by the way all parties are engaging constructively. [on reducing emissions]. We ran out of time [in the first week] but I am confident that an ambitious result will come this week ”.

But he added: “[I am] disappointed with commitment to finance, markets and response measures [to the climate crisis]. “

The most controversial issue of all is loss and damage. The term refers to the impact of extreme weather conditions so severe that countries cannot adapt to them: recent examples include the devastating floods in Pakistan in August and September, which left 20 million people in need of humanitarian aid, and drought. underway in Africa, the worst in 40 years, which is threatening nearly 150 million people with extreme hunger.

Negotiations for loss and damage revolve around how to provide financial assistance to developing countries affected by such extreme weather conditions, which in addition to threatening human lives can destroy their infrastructure and tear apart their social fabric.

Discussions about loss and damage such as “compensation” to developing countries of the rich world, or “liability” by countries responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions, are specifically excluded from the negotiations and are excluded from the agreement. Paris of 2015.

Ineza Umuhoza Grace, the Rwanda negotiator on loss and damage, said: “Loss and damage financing is now on the agenda, but much needs to be done to ensure that the financial commitment is new, additional and accessible. to vulnerable communities, and above all that the debt of developing countries will not increase. We need a reformed structure and the developing countries are the ones with the solution “.

Omar Alcock, a chief negotiator for Jamaica, said more financial assistance is needed for poor countries. “Work programs and workshops are not good enough. To ignore the obvious is to deny the realities associated with climate change. Loss and damage financing is not a cure, but a necessity, ”he said. “Loss and damage discussions have been weak, with little progress being made [so far]. “

Words on all of these issues are likely to be included in COP’s cover text, a document that summarizes where countries have gotten to key issues; what resolutions they make, what actions need to be taken; and where are the main disagreements.

Negotiators are examining potential texts on all of these topics, but are unlikely to produce an official draft text until Wednesday, according to sources within the talks. Negotiations have been fairly smooth so far, according to insiders, but this is partly due to the fact that at this stage most of the options within the decisions and texts have been left open.

In the text, these potential options are placed in square brackets, indicating that the wording has yet to be agreed upon. As the week progresses, countries will be forced to choose which of the many options on each issue to pursue and which to eliminate – they will aim to remove as much of the square brackets as possible and leave only what all countries can agree on.

Once an initial draft text has been agreed upon and issued by the Egyptian presidency, it will go through many more drafts as each remaining set of square brackets is examined, so the sentence inside can be freed from the brackets, edited or deleted.

With this meticulous process, nearly 200 countries represented by thousands of negotiators will eventually come up with a cover text indicating where the world is heading with respect to the climate crisis, with obligations and resolutions for rich and poor countries, and a work program that it should help countries make progress in reducing emissions, cooperating on joint projects and for those with the means to provide assistance to those without.

At least, that’s the plan. Things can, and do, go wrong until the last moments.

The official draft COP26 cover text, which once adopted became the Glasgow Climate Pact, was first published on the second Wednesday of that fortnight of talks. The seven-page document went through four major drafts over the next three days, until early Saturday morning. Until the last minute, it was still subject to change: just as COP26 president Alok Sharma thought he had full agreement on Saturday afternoon, China and India intervened to demand a “phasing out” of the coal referred to in the text must be reduced to a “phase-down”.

Those last-minute tribulations brought Sharma to the brink of tears. Sameh Shoukry, president of the Egyptian COP27, will try to avoid the same fate.

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