A handful of ministers to carry Cop26 over line

Ministers from a range of nations are driving talks during the final crucial hours of climate talks

Fifteen hand-picked ministers have been given the tough task of cajoling nations into backing some of the most controversial topics of the Cop26 climate deal.

The 15 – from a range of nations and backgrounds, but with a strong Nordic presence – have been paired-up to tackle crucial elements of the deal, such as emissions trading, financing poorer countries and ensuring how country commitments will be monitored.

The eight men and seven women come from countries that range from industrialised economies to some of the most threatened by climate change – such as Antigua and the Maldives. We detail five key players.

Espen Barth Eide (Norway)

Norway’s environment minister was chosen to tackle issues around carbon trading, despite being in the job barely a month. This follows the election of a new left-of-centre government in October that fought on a climate change ticket.

A former foreign and defence minister and UN special adviser on Cyprus, Mr Eide is no stranger to major jobs. But few come bigger than resolving an issue that is one of the most difficult sticking points at the talks.

He wrote on Twitter late on Thursday that as “crunch time” approached there were several issues to resolve but praised “remarkable people from all around the world doing their very best”.

Dr Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya (Rwanda)

Rwanda’s environment minister is involved in thrashing out details on how often countries should review and update their climate change goals to aim to limit global warming to 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels.

Some nations have baulked at setting more regular targets but Dr Mujawamariya has a history of proving people wrong. Told at school that maths, physics and chemistry were not subjects for girls, she went to a Russian university to study chemistry.

A former ambassador to Moscow – and fluent in English, French and Russian – she became environment minister in 2019.

Aminath Shauna (Maldives)

Aminath Shauna is well placed to lead on issues of adapting to a new world of rising waters and extreme weather with her nation at threat from being submerged due to climate change.

The former journalist led the national effort to towards the islands’ goal of becoming carbon neutral, despite relying on tourists flying to the island. She has warned of the dire prospects for her nation if a successful deal is not struck.

Four-fifths of the 1,190 islands of the archipelago are just a metre above sea level.

“There’s no higher ground for us ... it’s just us, it’s just our islands and the sea,” she has said.

Dan Jorgensen (Denmark)

The Danish politician is the second of three ministers from the Nordic nations brought in to try to get the deal over the finishing line.

Climate minister since 2019, Mr Jorgensen is overseeing a shift from fossil fuel, with the country announcing an end to oil and gas exploration by 2050 to reinvest the funds into retraining workers for greener jobs.

Denmark has positioned itself as a leader in climate change. Mr Jorgensen appeared in a video dropping a courgette, and generally being incompetent in the kitchen, while trying to persuade Danes to put more vegetables into their meatballs to promote sustainable living.

Yasmine Fouad (Egypt)

Ms Fouad has been Egypt's environment minister since 2018 and was the lead author for a chapter on increasing desert landscapes for the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

She has a master's degree in environmental science and 20 years' experience working in the field, through government, non-government organisations and UN organisations.

Ms Fouad also has experience in leading talks at previous Cop negotiations and will be working with Per Bolund, a Swedish Green Party politician, on finance issues in the final hours.

She has told the talks that the hard work at Cop26 “deserves to be rewarded” and will continue when her country stages the next round of talks, Cop27, at the Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh next year.

Updated: November 14th 2021, 4:37 AM