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In a historic first, rich countries will pay for loss and damage caused by climate change


Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt: After a night of great drama and prolonged negotiationsCOP27 made history by creating a fund for loss and damage resulting from climate change – a request that developing countries facing the devastating effects of global warming have made for decades, and which has been constantly blocked by rich countries so far.

During the closing plenary, which began around 4 a.m. on Sunday morning, applause erupted as COP27 President Sameh Shoukry announced that the loss and damage fund would serve the United Nations Framework Convention. on climate change. Talks had been extended nearly two days after negotiations over contentious issues — including the fund — stalled.

For hours before the announcement, the fund’s creation was on shaky ground as negotiations nearly broke down during consultations with Shoukry late Saturday night.

The agreement to establish the fund is seen as a progressive step towards climate justice, acknowledging that the most vulnerable, facing the irreversible effects of climate change, have done little to contribute. Work on the operationalization of the fund and the financing modalities must be developed in the years to come.

“The new Loss and Damage Fund is a testament to the perseverance and tenacity of climate-vulnerable countries and civil society groups. A strong new message from COP27 is to reform multilateral development banks to provide more climate finance without forcing developing countries to take on more debt,” said Ulka Kelkar, director of the climate program at the World Resources Institute India, in a statement.

Harjeet Singh, head of global policy strategy for the Climate Action Network and advocate for the loss and damage agenda, said in a statement: “With the creation of a new fund for loss and damage, COP27 sent a warning to polluters that they can no longer be unscathed from their climate destruction.Now they will have to pay for the damage they cause and be held accountable to the people who face super-powerful storms, devastating floods and rising seas “.

Groups of developed countries, including the EU, US, UK and Australia, dragged their feet on the creation of the fund and sought to overturn the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities by proposing that the donor base is broadened to include developing countries themselves. This proposal was canceled by groups of developing countries during intense negotiations which lasted until Saturday evening, a negotiator from the Indian delegation told ThePrint.

The EU had even threatened to pull out of the talks, saying it would rather have “no decision than a bad decision”.

At the conclusion of the COP, Frans Timmermans of the EU said: “We will hold ourselves and everyone here accountable under the Paris Agreement. Too many parties are not ready to make more progress today in tackling the climate crisis.”

Although the creation of a loss and damage financing mechanism was a victory, Like-Minded Developing Countries — a group that includes India — expressed concern that efforts had been made throughout the negotiations to dilute the principles of fairness which form the basis of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change.

“In every negotiating room, fairness has been questioned and efforts have been made to remove the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities,” LMDC spokesman Diego Pacheco said.

Some countries said they were not consulted before adding clauses to the text.

Read also : India’s Fossil Fuel Import Bills Will Double Over Next Two Decades, New IEA Report Reveals

No plan to phase out fossil fuels

The Egyptian Presidency published the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan – a legal and political document summarizing key negotiations – to mark the conclusion of the talks.

Importantly, the plan, which aims to implement climate action, excludes any mention of fossil fuels and repeats last year’s resolution to phase down coal.

At COP26 in Glasgow, countries agreed to phase out coal power and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.

Last week, India proposed inserting a clause to phase out all fossil fuels – a position that seemed to have gained traction in developed countries but ultimately fell through. final textapparently because the oil states intervened.

“It is disappointing that COP27 did not build on the COP26 declaration to deliver a stronger message on phasing out fossil fuels,” said Shruti Sharma, senior policy adviser at the International Institute for Development. sustainable, adding: “The hope at COP27, through India’s proposal, was to include a phase-out of all fossil fuels, including coal, oil and gas. Regardless of the intent of the Indian proposal, we know that drastic emissions cuts are needed now to get on track with the Paris Agreement goals and keep the 1.5C temperature limit at handy.

Developed countries expressed disappointment that the plan did not include stronger calls for action to mitigate climate change and reduce emissions.

“We joined many parties and proposed a number of measures that would have helped to peak emissions before 2025, which science tells us is necessary. Not in this text. A clear path to coal phase-out, not in this text. A clear commitment to phase out all fossil fuels, not in this text,” said Alok Sharma from the UK during the closing plenary.

During the negotiations, developed countries called for stronger action to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees, but this proved unacceptable to poorer countries due to the lack of fairness in the proposal.

The text recognizes, however, that “the impacts of climate change will be much lower with a temperature increase of 1.5°C compared to 2°C”.

It also includes India’s other suggestion of shifting to sustainable lifestyles and recognizes that scaling up renewable energy will cost at least $4 trillion a year, while developing countries need at least least $5.8 trillion to achieve their climate goals.

Importantly, the document calls on multilateral development banks to scale up climate finance and reform “banking practices and priorities, align and scale up financing, ensure simplified access and mobilize climate finance from various sources”.

A tumultuous negotiation

The pressure to conclude the talks was high on Saturday evening as delegations from various countries had either left Sharm el-Sheikh or were due to leave soon after.

Tensions rose around 10 p.m. Saturday night when the US, EU, Switzerland and New Zealand appeared to pause in their agreement on a loss and damage fund, stalling talks.

According to Earth Negotiations Bulletinthe countries continued to clash throughout the night and “seemed comfortable with reinserting text or calling for major deletions that would cross other parties’ red lines.”

The closing plenary was originally scheduled for 6 p.m. on Saturday evening, before being pushed back to the wee hours of Sunday.

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

Read also : After hours of negotiations, developed countries agree to pay for loss and damage at COP27

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