At COP27, historic agreement to compensate poor nations for climate impacts

This story is part of Choosing the landa series that recounts the impact of climate change and explores what is being done about it.

Developing countries, climate NGOs and activists celebrated a victory of more than 30 years on Sunday, upon receiving the news that this year’s UN climate summit, COP27has resulted in the establishment of a financing mechanism for loss and damage.

It marks a major breakthrough in multilateral climate negotiations that will see countries historically responsible for emitting the most greenhouse gases compensate vulnerable countries that bear the brunt. Something that many activists say is long overdue cannot come soon enough.

“The announcement offers hope to vulnerable communities around the world who are struggling to survive climate stress.” tweeted Sherry Rehman, Minister of Climate Change of Pakistan, the country that has led the call for a fund for loss and damage at COP27. Pakistan has suffered intense flooding this year that has killed more than 1,700 people and displaced more than 2 million others.

But the outcome of COP27 was not a resounding success. In particular, many involved in the COP process were surprised and frustrated that the text that was adopted made no mention of phasing out or phasing out fossil fuels. “While the long overdue progress on loss and damage is an important advance, the latest draft cover story completely fails to address the fossil fuels that are driving the climate crisis and the mounting losses it is causing,” Carroll Muffett, president and CEO of the Center for International Environmental Law, he said in a statement.

Muffett also expressed frustration that parties were told to update their nationally determined contributions, or NDCs, which say how each country would meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement, without being told to increase their ambition and address the root causes of the climate crisis. Climate talks often end this way: some countries are happier with certain outcomes than others. But the goal is to reach a consensus for the common good.

COP27 has been running for the past two weeks, starting on November 7, in Sharm el-Sheikh, a resort town on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Along with the central negotiations, there has been a whole schedule of events, with numerous protests and visits by heads of state thrown into the mix. The summit was scheduled to close on Friday, but it was moved up as COPs usually do, dragging out negotiations into the weekend. After a tense day of negotiations on Saturday, which included a threat from the EU that it could withdraw from the talks, the parties managed to reach an agreement on the issues in the early hours of Sunday morning, while the call for dawn prayer resounded throughout Egypt.

With people around the world increasingly struggling to manage the consequences of extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change, the need to establish ways to mitigate the effects of the crisis, adapt to protect against further harm and provide relief to those who suffer its worst effects have only become more urgent. Many people, particularly activists, feel that UN summits are ineffective forums for building consensus and taking action on climate, due to the glacial pace of change. But the climate talks are still important, as they are the only opportunity for all countries to come together in a room and decide how to tackle together the climate crisis, a problem that knows no borders.

The theme of this year’s summit was “the implementation COP”, which meant putting into action what had been agreed in Glasgow at COP26 last year, after the interim period, very little of what was promised was seen. But on Friday, when the summit was set to close, negotiators returned to discussing the same issues as in previous years, prompting Greenpeace Southeast Asia executive director Yeb Saño to say he felt more like ” the repetition of the COP”.

The Egyptian climate talks were plagued with problems, ranging from practical problems related to a lack of food and drink at the event venue, crowded transport and sewage running through the venue, to procedural problems that delayed negotiations. In the middle of the second week, UN Secretary Antonio Guterres flew back to Egypt from the G20 summit in Bali to urge the parties to rise to the occasion and work together despite what he identified as a breach of trust between developed and developing nations.

“The world is watching and has a simple message: stand up and deliver,” he said in a speech on Thursday. “Deliver the kind of meaningful climate action that people and the planet so desperately need.”

loss and damage

Securing a fund for loss and damage has been the defining theme of the summit. It was such a priority for vulnerable countries and activists that many said they would consider COP27 a failure if there was no agreement on a funding mechanism.

For the first time after more than 30 years of activist campaigning, the issue made it onto the COP27 agenda this year. But despite the funding gaining the support of the G77+China and the EU, the contentious nature of the compensation meant that this was one of two negotiating points that caused negotiations to be delayed.

The United States, the world’s largest historical emitter of greenhouse gases, has been particularly concerned about holding itself accountable, leading him to resist the creation of a fund. He was more willing to talk about loss and damage at COP27 than in the past, but wanted to deflect responsibility from governments, which he said could only contribute billions, to industry, which could shell out the trillions. truly required.

In the end, the countries were able to reach an agreement, which was seen as a victory for climate justice — the movement to make the world safer, greener, and more equal and just. Saño described it as “a victory for popular power.”

“The agreement for a Damage and Loss Financing Fund marks a new dawn for climate justice,” he said in a statement. “Governments have laid the cornerstone of a long-awaited new fund to provide vital support to vulnerable countries and communities already being devastated by the accelerating climate crisis.”

Fossil fuels

Language on phasing out fossil fuels was the other issue that halted negotiations this year. Scientists and climate experts have consistently argued that the only way to keep global warming within a limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius is to completely phase out all fossil fuels, including coal, oil, and gas. But some countries have resisted such rapid and complete decarbonization, leading to a dispute over how the fossil fuel phase-out should be written.

In the end, the language was excluded entirely.

“There is no time left for incremental change, every fraction of a degree matters,” May Boeve, executive director of, said in a statement. “We needed a radical implementation of measures to maintain 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid the worst ravages of climate chaos, we needed a quick, fair and equitable phase-out of fossil fuels. We didn’t get that at this year’s COP.”

With the absence of fossil fuels in this year’s deal, civil society and activists take heart from the fact that the transition to renewable energy is already underway around the world. They are already thinking about next year’s summit, which will take place in the United Arab Emirates, to further advance this transition, and will probably push for this to be the focus of the 2023 agenda.

“Next year’s COP28 climate summit should be the COP of climate credibility,” Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, COP20 President and WWF Global Climate and Energy Leader, said in a statement. “And countries must comply.”

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