The tensions follow late-night marathon talks in which slow progress was made, but clearly not enough to announce an agreement 18 hours after Sharma’s 6 p.m. local time deadline on Friday.
“I would also like to make clear is that it is my intention that we will close this COP this afternoon,” said Sharma, who appeared to be losing patience after two weeks of talks.
“This will close. And at the end of the day, what has been put forward here is a balanced package. Everyone’s had a chance to have their say, and I hope that colleagues will appreciate that what is on the table here, while not every aspect of it will be welcomed by everyone, collectively this is a package that really moves things forward for everyone,” Sharma said.
An agreement requires getting all 197 parties in attendance to reach consensus on each and every word of the final text, a painstaking effort that involves compromises and frank discussions about the world’s structures of power and who is most responsible for the climate crisis.
The UN published a third draft of the agreement Saturday morning that retained reference to phasing out coal and ending subsidies for fossil fuels, albeit watered down.
The draft urges countries to rapidly scale up the use of clean power generation while it phases out coal power and “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.” It also recognizes “the need for support towards a just transition” — money to support jobs and livelihoods as the world moves away from fossil fuels. Both additions leave the text more open to interpretation than the original.
A section that calls on parties to update their emissions-reduction plans by the end of next year was also retained, which would mean countries come forward with new pledges three years earlier than they are required to now under the 2015 Paris Agreement. Several countries have expresses opposition to this new timeline, claiming it tries to set new rules to the overarching 2015 Paris Agreement.
There are also divisions over language on just how much the world should allow the Earth to warm, the future of fossil fuels and rules for carbon markets to avoid double counting emissions reduction, or “cheating” on credits.
But the most contentious issue appears to be whether wealthy nations in the developed world should be obliged to set up an dedicated “loss and damage” fund to pay money to poorer countries for climate crisis impacts, which implicitly acknowledges wealthy nations’ outsized role in causing the climate crisis.
The issue has pitted the developed and developing world against each other, a characteristic typical of COP conferences.