COP27:US envoy Kerry gets COVID as climate talks head into overtime

U.S. Special Climate Envoy John Kerry tested positive for COVID-19 in the final hours of the COP27 climate talks in Egypt, the State Department said on Friday, as tough negotiations for a final deal headed into overtime. Kerry had been conducting numerous bilateral meetings, including recently with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua, and was expected to use his trademark shuttle diplomacy to help negotiators bridge wide differences in the last hours of the summit.


Reuters | Washington DC | Updated: 19-11-2022 03:07 IST | Created: 19-11-2022 03:04 IST
COP27:US envoy Kerry gets COVID as climate talks head into overtime
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U.S. Special Climate Envoy John Kerry tested positive for COVID-19 in the final hours of the COP27 climate talks in Egypt, the State Department said on Friday, as tough negotiations for a final deal headed into overtime.

Kerry had been conducting numerous bilateral meetings, including recently with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua, and was expected to use his trademark shuttle diplomacy to help negotiators bridge wide differences in the last hours of the summit. "He is fully vaccinated and boosted and experiencing mild symptoms," State Department spokesperson Whitney Smith said in an emailed statement. "He is working with his negotiations team and foreign counterparts by phone to ensure a successful outcome of COP27."

Kerry's voice was noticeably hoarse during speaking events on Thursday. Efforts to reach the Chinese delegation at COP27 on Friday night were not immediately successful. The United States and China had resumed cooperation on climate this week after months of tensions over Taiwan.

A European Union proposal on Friday had buoyed hopes. The bloc said it would back one of the toughest agenda items: financing for countries wracked by climate-fuelled disasters. But with other sticking points dogging the talks, host country Egypt said a final deal was not expected before the weekend. "I remain committed to bring this conference to a close tomorrow in an orderly manner, with the adoption of a series of consensus decisions that will be comprehensive, ambitious, and balanced," COP27 President Sameh Shoukry told reporters.

The two-week conference at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh has tested resolve to combat planetary warming that has contributed to ever-worse storms, floods, droughts and wildfires. So far, drafts of a final deal have shown little progress since last year's summit in Scotland, when governments reaffirmed commitments to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times to avert climate catastrophes.

Global temperatures are already near that threshold, projected to zoom past it unless greenhouse gas emissions are cut dramatically. LOSS AND DAMAGE

In a breakthrough, the European Union said late on Thursday it would back the demand of the G77 group of 134 developing countries to set up a fund to help them cope with "loss and damage" wrought by climate change. But it was unclear Friday if all those countries would accept the EU's offer of a fund to aid only "the most vulnerable countries", rather than all developing countries including China, as they had requested. In the EU proposal, China would help fund the aid as part of a "broad donor base" of countries.

The climate minister for the Maldives, which faces inundation from rising seas, welcomed the proposed fund. "As the lowest-lying country in the world, we are heartened by the goodwill in this room," Shauna Aminath said. "We're very close to an agreement, and let's engage with one another and make this happen."

Later on Friday, a draft proposal presented by the United Kingdom on behalf of a group of developed countries was under discussion, according to multiple sources. It was unclear how that draft differed from the EU's plan. Deals at COP27 must be made with support from all of the nearly 200 countries present. Delegates were still waiting to learn how the United States and China - the world's two biggest economies and two biggest polluters - would respond to the offer by the EU, the third biggest economy and greenhouse gas emitter.

FINAL DEAL IN SIGHT? On Friday morning, the U.N. climate agency published a first official draft of the final summit deal. The aim is for a global agreement that progresses towards fighting climate change on a range of fronts including more funding and guarantees that countries will act faster to slash emissions.

The draft left a placeholder for "loss and damage" - to be filled in if countries can thrash out a deal. Other elements of the document repeated commitments from last year's climate summit.

Some countries, including the EU and Britain, have pushed for the overall deal in Egypt to lock in country commitments for more ambitious climate action. Ireland's environment minister, Eamon Ryan, said countries needed to ratchet up their emissions-cutting efforts.

"It's important that we get a strong cover text," he told Reuters. "The responsibility very much will lie now with the Egyptian presidency in trying to get something that we can rally behind." For daily comprehensive coverage on COP27 in your inbox, sign up for the Reuters Sustainable Switch newsletter here

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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