COP27: Summit agrees on climate fund for ‘loss and damage’ in historic deal

Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

Representatives of nearly 200 counties at the COP27 climate summit have agreed to set up a “loss and damage” fund to help vulnerable countries cope with climate disasters, in a historic deal on Sunday morning in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt .

The entire COP27 agreement, of which the Fund is a part, also reaffirmed the goal of keeping global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels – a key demand of many countries.

But while the agreement represents a breakthrough in a contentious negotiation process, it did not solidify the language around cutting planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

The final text made no mention of phasing out fossil-fuels, including oil and gas.

The final agreement marks the first time countries and groupings, including longtime holdouts such as the United States and the European Union, have agreed to set up a fund for nations vulnerable to climate disasters, which will benefit wealthy, industrialized nations. worsened by pollution produced unevenly by

Negotiators and non-governmental organizations observing the talks praised the establishment of the fund as a significant achievement, after developing countries and small island states banded together to mount pressure.

“The agreements reached at COP27 are a victory for our entire world,” Molvin Joseph, president of the Alliance of Small Island States, said in a statement. “We have shown those who have felt neglected that we hear you, we see you, and we are giving you the respect and care you deserve.”

A senior Biden administration official told CNN that the fund will focus on what can be done to support losses and damage resources, but does not include provisions for liability or compensation.

The US and other developed nations have long sought to avoid such provisions that could open them to legal liability and lawsuits from other countries. And in previous public comments, US climate envoy John Kerry said loss and damage is not the same as climate compensation.

“‘Reparations’ is not a word or a word that has been used in this context,” Kerry said in a recent briefing to reporters earlier this month. He added: “We’ve always said that for the developed world Helping the developing world to deal with climate impacts is essential.”

Details on how the fund will operate are unclear. The text leaves a lot of questions about when it will be finalized and operational, and how exactly it will be funded. The text also mentions a transitional committee that will help nail down those details, but does not set specific future deadlines.

And while climate experts celebrate the victory, they also note the uncertainty that lies ahead.

Annie Dasgupta, CEO of the World Resources Institute, said, “This loss and damage fund will be a lifeline for impoverished families whose homes have been destroyed, farmers whose farms have been destroyed, and islanders forced from their ancestral homes.” went.” “At the same time, developing countries are leaving Egypt without clear assurances about how the Loss and Damage Fund will be monitored.”

Climate experts said a fallout this year resulted in a fund in large part because the G77 bloc of developing countries remained unified, with a greater impact on loss and damage than in previous years.

“They need to stay together to fuel the conversations we’re having right now,” Nisha Krishnan, resilience director at the World Resources Institute Africa, told reporters. “The coalition has held because of the belief that we needed to be together to deliver this – and to take the conversation forward.”

For many, the fund represents the victory of a hard-fought years, pushed to the finish line by the global attention paid to climate disasters such as Pakistan’s devastating floods this summer.

“It was like a big buildup,” former US climate envoy Todd Stern told CNN. “It’s been around for a long time and it’s getting more painful for the weaker countries because a lot of money is still not being put into it. As we can see, the real disaster effects of climate change are getting more and more intense.”

Global scientists have warned for decades that warming must be limited to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels – a limit that is fast approaching as the planet’s average temperature has already climbed to around 1.1 degrees.

A warming of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius will dramatically increase the risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages, scientists have said in the latest report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

But while summit delegates reaffirmed the goal of keeping global warming to 1.5°C, climate experts despaired at the lack of mention of fossil fuels, or the need to reduce them to prevent global temperatures from rising. Expressed. As at the Glasgow summit last year, the text calls for the phasing out of unsustainable coal power and the “phasing out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”, but to phase out all fossil fuels Doesn’t go on to finish. including oil and gas.

“The impact of the fossil fuel industry was found across the board,” Laurence Tubiana, CEO of the European Climate Foundation, said in a statement. “The Presidency of Egypt has drawn up a text that explicitly protects the oil and gas petro-states and fossil fuel industries. This trend cannot continue in the UAE next year.

Last year some dramatic action was taken in Glasgow to keep the 1.5 degree figure down.

On Saturday, EU officials threatened to walk out of the meeting if the final agreement failed to support the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. EU Green Deal Tsar Frans Timmermans, flanked by a full line-up of ministers and other top officials from EU member states, told a carefully choreographed news conference that “no deal is better than a bad deal”. ”

“We do not want to die 1.5 Celsius here and today. This is completely unacceptable to us,” he said.

In addition to the final agreement, the summit brought several other important developments, including the resumption of formal climate talks between the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters – the US and China.

US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to reset US-China communications when they met last week at the G20 summit in Bali, after China sabotaged climate talks between the two countries this summer. met at the conference, paving the way for US climate envoy John Kerry and US climate envoy John Kerry. His Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua will formally meet again.

Kerry told CNN last week, “Without China, even if America is moving toward the 1.5-degree program, which we are, if we don’t have China, nobody else can achieve that goal. ”

According to a source familiar with the discussions, the two sides met in the second week of the COP, trying to pick up where they left off before China suspended the talks. The source said they were focused on specific action points, such as boosting China’s plan to reduce emissions of methane – a potent greenhouse gas – and their overall emissions target.

Unlike last year, there was no major, joint climate declaration from the two countries. But the resumption of formal communication was seen as an encouraging sign.

Li Shuo, Beijing-based global policy advisor for Greenpeace East Asia, said the COP “saw extensive exchanges between the two sides under the leadership of Kerry and Xi.”

“The challenge is that they must do more than talk, [and] also needs to take the lead,” Shuo said, adding the resumed formal talks “help prevent the worst outcome.”

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