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

Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt

Representatives from nearly 200 countries at the COP27 climate summit agreed in a landmark agreement early Sunday morning in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, to create a damage and loss fund to help vulnerable countries deal with climate disasters.

But while the agreement represents a breakthrough in what has been a contentious negotiation process, delegates were still trying to hammer out other contentious parts of the deal, including a proposal that calls for a phase-out of all fossil fuels, not just coal. .

The agreement marks the first time that countries and groups, including countries such as the United States and the European Union, have created a “damage and loss fund” for vulnerable countries to face climate disasters that have been disproportionately worsened by pollution from wealthy, industrialized nations. they agreed. .

Negotiators and NGOs watching the talks said the fund was a major achievement after developing countries and small island nations came together to press for action this year.

A senior Biden administration official told CNN that the fund will focus on what can be done to support sources of loss and damage, but will not include liability or compensation provisions. The United States and other developed countries have long sought to avoid such regulations, which could open them up to legal liability and lawsuits from other countries. US climate envoy John Kerry has said in previous public statements that damages are not the same as climate compensation.

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In a recent call with reporters earlier this month, Kerry said: “Compensation” is not a word or a term used in this context. He added: We have always said that helping developing countries to deal with the effects of climate is necessary for developed countries.

Details of how the fund will operate remain unclear. The text raises many questions about when it will be finalized and operational, and how exactly it will be funded. The text also mentions a transition committee that will help iron out these details, but does not set specific future deadlines. While climate experts celebrated the victory, they also pointed to uncertainty about the future.

“This damage and loss fund will be a lifeline for poor families whose homes have been destroyed, farmers whose farms have been destroyed, and islanders who have fled their ancestral homes,” said Annie Dasgupta, CEO of the World Resources Institute. At the same time, developing countries are leaving Egypt without clear guarantees on how the damage and loss fund will be monitored.

Climate experts say the fund’s bottom line this year was largely because the G77 bloc of developing countries remained united and had more leverage than in previous years to deal with losses.

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“They need to be together to force the conversation we’re having now,” Nisha Krishnan, director of resilience at the World Resources Institute for Africa, told reporters. The Coalition exists because of this belief that we must stick together to do this – and to move the conversation forward.

The victory was years in the making, drawing global attention in part because of weather disasters like Pakistan’s devastating floods this summer.

“It was like a big rally,” Todd Stern, a former US climate envoy, told CNN. This issue has been around for a long time and is exacerbated for vulnerable countries because not much money is being spent on it yet. As we can see, the real disaster effects of climate change are becoming more and more severe.

The conference first went into overtime on Saturday and continued into the early hours of Sunday morning, with negotiators still hammering out details as workers dismantled the venue around them. At points, there was a real sense of exhaustion and frustration. Complicating matters was the fact that Kerry — the top U.S. climate official — has been self-isolating after recently testing positive for Covid, working by phone instead of face-to-face meetings.

And earlier on Saturday, EU officials threatened to walk out of the meeting if a final agreement was not reached endorsing a target to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

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Global scientists have warned for decades that warming must be limited to 1.5 degrees – a threshold that is fast approaching as the planet’s average temperature has already reached around 1.1 degrees. Above 1.5 degrees, the risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages will increase dramatically, scientists said in the latest report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

At a carefully orchestrated news conference Saturday morning, Frans Timmermans, the EU’s green deal czar, told a full line-up of ministers and other top EU officials that “no deal is better than a bad deal.”

We don’t want 1.5 degrees Celsius to die here and today. This is completely unacceptable for us.”

The EU has made clear it is willing to agree to an emergency fund – a big change in its position from just a week ago – but only in exchange for a strong commitment to the 1.5° target.

As the sun set on Sharm el-Sheikh’s Saturday evening, the mood changed to cautious jubilation as groups of negotiators began to hint that a deal was on the way.

But, as always with high-level diplomacy, officials were quick to stress that nothing had really been agreed until the final curtain fell.


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