Recriminations were spreading Saturday morning after the failure of talks on the creation of a new fund to help vulnerable countries rebuild from climate disasters.
During fraught talks that were partially webcast, negotiators from developing countries blamed the U.S. in particular for insisting on housing the proposed fund in the World Bank, an institution dominated by highly developed economies.
“If wealthy nations do not come to the next meeting prepared to let go of this unrealistic proposal, meet their international obligations, and set up a stand-alone, rights-based and resourced fund, they might as well not show up at all,” said Lien Vandamme, an observer at the talks for the Center for International Environmental Law.
Vandamme accused the EU, which also backs the idea of the World Bank as host, of hiding behind the U.S.
A European Commission spokesperson said the 24-member committee of government officials from rich and poor countries tasked with designing the fund “was unable to complete its work this week but made some good progress in certain areas, and the EU remains committed to taking the work forward.”
The headquartering of the fund was among a host of contentious issues that were left unresolved after this week’s meeting in Egypt, which was supposed to be the final round of technical talks on setting up a so-called loss and damage fund.
Developed and developing parties both expressed disappointment in the final hours of the talks, which wrapped up in the early hours of Saturday.
“What message do I take back home? There is nothing on the table. No recommendations,” said Pakistani negotiator Ali Waqas Malik. German negotiator Heike Henn pleaded with colleagues to not give up, saying: “We are failing the process, the mandate, people, expectations.”
The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Another meeting is now likely to be scheduled for early November in Abu Dhabi to try to find a deal before the world’s governments gather in the United Arab Emirates for the COP28 global climate talks, which start on November 30.
Earlier in the meeting, the Emirati president of the COP28 talks, Sultan al-Jaber, urged governments to make early financial contributions to the fund to demonstrate good faith.
“I don’t want this to be an empty bank account. This committee has to deliver recommendations. The COP has to make the decision of activating the fund,” he said.