United States special envoy John Kerry has tested positive for Covid-19 at Cop27 in Egypt as the global climate talks ran into overtime on Friday.
The former US secretary of state has been a stalwart presence throughout the gruelling two-week conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, and is one of the most recognisable faces in international climate negotiations.
“Secretary Kerry is self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. He is fully vaccinated and boosted and experiencing mild symptoms. He is working with his negotiations team and foreign counterparts by phone to ensure a successful outcome of COP27,” spokesperson Whitney Smith said in a statement.
Cop27 looks almost certain to continue into Saturday – and perhaps even Sunday – as countries remain divided on how to tackle some of the biggest issues of the climate crisis.
The first draft of the Cop27 agreement, published on Friday morning, contained many “placeholders” on the thorniest issues, notably on funding arrangements for loss and damage.
The issue of how to compensate vulnerable countries for climate destruction, caused by carbon emissions spewed by their wealthy global neighbours, has been a central issue at Cop27.
The United States had long opposed a loss and damage fund. Ahead of the Sharm el-Sheikh summit, Mr Kerry said that he was supportive of discussing loss and damage but that any move threatening to put richer nations on the hook for legal liability is “going to be a problem for everybody, not just for us”.
However by late Friday, the US was reportedly part of a coalition proposing a loss and damage fund, according to sources close to negotiations. It would also create “an expert group” to figure out where funding should come from and how it should be run, Reuters also reported.
A State Department spokesperson confirmed to The Independent that the parties are continuing to negotiate but did not confirm the draft text.
Late on Thursday, the European Union also proposed a special loss and damage fund but it is unclear whether this is separate to the US proposal.