Egypt climate deal is still not near, says Britain’s COP26 President Sharma

By William James

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt, Nov 18 (Reuters) – Alok Sharma, the COP26 president who oversaw last year’s Glasgow Climate Pact, warned on Friday that time was running out for reaching a deal at this year’s U.N. climate conference in Egypt, and he called for more clarity over the final negotiating process.

Talks ran into overtime on Friday, with gaps remaining on key issues including the provision of finance to developing countries faced with the costs of climate disasters.

“It’s clear that we’re still not near a final text that is balanced, that’s ambitious across the key pillars – on mitigation and adaptation, on finance and loss and damage,” Sharma told Reuters.

He said the situation reflected a lack of clarity over the negotiating process being facilitated by Egypt, and that the pace of talks had been slow from the start.

“With any COP I think there is a question of making sure you are maintaining the momentum, and that’s what we really now need to see as we go into overtime. But there’s no doubt that time is running out.”

Sharma’s Glasgow pact set out how countries would keep alive hopes of averting the worst impacts of global warming by limiting the temperature rise to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels – a goal originally agreed in 2015.

“What we achieved in Glasgow, keeping 1.5 alive, has got to be the baseline of our ambitions for this COP and it most certainly can’t be the ceiling,” he said.

“We cannot at this COP be seen to go backwards.” (Reporting by William James; Editing by Katy Daigle and David Gregorio)