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Pressed by climate vulnerable nations, EU tweaks emissions goal

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Developing nations admonished rich polluters for falling short on efforts to help them cope with global warming at UN climate talks Tuesday, as the EU vowed to speed its emissions reductions.

The COP27 conference in Egypt has been dominated by calls for wealthy nations to fulfil pledges to fund the green transitions of poorer countries least responsible for global emissions, help build their resilience, and compensate them for climate-linked losses.

“Progress has been made, but certainly more remains to be done if we are to achieve the robust outcomes that will drive ambitious, and inclusive climate action,” he told delegates. 

European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans told delegates that the European Union would outperform its original plan to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 55 percent by 2030.

“The European Union is here to move forwards, not backwards,” Timmermans told COP27 delegates.

But Timmermans denied the bloc was in a “dash for gas” amid the Ukraine conflict.

Watchdog groups were unimpressed.

“If the EU, with a heavy history of emitting greenhouse gases, doesn’t lead on mitigating climate change, who will?” 

Addressing a high-level session, ministers from developing nations took turns criticising wealthy nations.

“We the people of Saint Lucia suffer the consequences of this hypocrisy,” he said, describing millions of dollars in damage caused by a recent tropical storm that wracked his island nation.

Developing countries say this year’s floods in Pakistan, which have cost the country up to $40 billion, have highlighted the pressing need to create a “loss and damage” compensation fund.

But as impacts grow they have softened their stance somewhat, agreeing to allow the issue to be discussed at COP27.

Wealthy countries favour using existing financial channels, however, and the first draft of the final declaration — which must be approved by all parties — echoes language previously deployed by the US and Europeans to describe “funding arrangements” for loss and damage. 

Conrod Hunte of Antigua and Barbuda, lead negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States, said it would be a “devastating blow” if talks stalled.

UN climate negotiations often go into overtime and COP27, scheduled to end on Friday, might be no different.

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