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French minister hails positive steps in Cop28 negotiations

Agnès Pannier-Runacher, the French minister of energy transition Reuters
Agnès Pannier-Runacher, the French minister of energy transition, says France wants no new coal mines and an exit date on coal.
  • Progress on loss and damage fund
  • Final attempts to push through consensus
  • Major North-South divide remains

France’s minister of energy transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, has hailed positive progress in climate negotiations, especially on the financial support for vulnerable countries hit by climate disasters. 

A final attempt to push through consensus became the most important point of the discussions ahead of the Cop28 climate conference in Dubai.

Seventy ministers and 100 delegates met to lay the groundwork for negotiations at the global climate summit which will take place at the end of the year.

The feeling is that negotiations have not progressed enough on the $100 billion loss and damage fund, which aims to provide financial assistance to nations most vulnerable to and most affected by the effects of climate change, since an agreement in principle was reached at Cop27 in Egypt.

Several meetings failed, as a major North-South divide remained between developed and developing nations over key elements of the fund’s functioning, from its governance, structure and location to the source of funding, types of projects and beneficiaries.

Rich countries want to locate the fund at the World Bank, while their opponents prefer to see it in a new independent facility, under the United Nations umbrella.

Parties also want emitters such as China and Saudi Arabia to participate in funding, something the two countries are trying to resist. 

Agnès Pannier-Runacher, speaking on the sidelines of the pre-Cop28 meeting in Abu Dhabi, said there had been some progress in efforts to tackle adaptation finance gaps and the global commitment to reaching the peak of emissions by 2025.

The so-called “last chance meeting”, an emergency meeting before Cop28,
where countries will have a final chance to make progress on settling arrangements for loss and damage funding, takes place from November 3 to 5 in Abu Dhabi, after previous meetings failed to find agreement.

Estimated annual adaptation needs are between $160 billion and $340 billion by the end of the decade, and up to $565 billion by 2050.

Sultan Al Jaber, the Cop28 president, said there was concern that adaptation was not receiving a fair share of climate finance and that the process “has lost its way.”

Fossil fuels elimination

An important part of the Cop28 negotiations will focus on including language on fossil fuels and renewables in the final text. Parties do not agree on “phasing out” or “phasing down” fossil fuels, the major driver of global warming.

France is pushing for a gradual phasing out of fossil fuels, mainly coal. Runacher said France wants no new coal mines, a limit on the expansion and construction of new electricity production capacity based on coal, the end to private financing for coal, and an exit date on the use of coal.

Global coal consumption increased by 3.3 percent to hit a record high of 8.3 billion metric tons in 2022, according to the International Energy Agency.