COP27 | U.N. climate talks poised for deal creating ‘loss and damage’ fund

China and the U.S., the two biggest carbon polluters, declined to comment; European negotiators were huddling over proposals

November 19, 2022 06:38 pm | Updated November 20, 2022 12:11 am IST - SHARM EL-SHEIKH

Environment Ministers speak during a news briefing at the COP27 climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on November 19, 2022.

Environment Ministers speak during a news briefing at the COP27 climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on November 19, 2022. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Delegates at the U. N. climate conference in Sharm El-Sheikh continue to negotiate a final agreement, with the latest draft suggesting the creation of a fund to compensate a section of developing countries for the damage already done by disasters linked to climate change.

Country representatives at the 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) of the U. N. Framework Convention on Climate Change are expected to convene again at a closing plenary session in the Egyptian resort town that is to commence late Saturday night by Indian time.

Loss and Damage (L&D) compensation has been part of COP deliberations for over a decade, with calls by island nations and developing countries to establish a dedicated fund and a clear financing scheme to compensate countries that are bearing the brunt of climate-linked calamities.

This was the first COP to formally include L&D as an agenda item. With little agreement among countries on other issues such as a call to eliminate all forms of fossil fuel or deliver on climate finance to developing countries, clarity on an L&D fund was widely perceived as a successful, tangible outcome from COP27.

The United States is reportedly working to find a way it can agree to proposals put forward, a source told Reuters. Another U. S. source familiar with the negotiations said the U. S. had been “deeply involved” in the negotiations on the ‘loss and damage’ deal.

Maldives Environment Minister Aminath Shauna said that an agreement had been reached. “There is an agreement on loss and damage,” which is what negotiators call the concept, Mr. Shauna told the AP on Saturday. “That means for countries like ours we will have the mosaic of solutions that we have been advocating for.”

“We proposed a text and this actually just has just been accepted, so we now have a fund,” Norway Climate and Environment Minister Espen Barth Eide told the AP.

New Zealand Climate Minister James Shaw said both the poor countries that would get the money and the rich ones that would give it are on board with the proposed deal.

“This is how a 30-year-old journey of ours has finally, we hope, found fruition today,” said Pakistan Climate Minister Sherry Rehman, who often took the lead for the world’s poorest nations. One-third of her nation was submerged this summer by a devastating flood and she and other officials used the motto: “What went on in Pakistan will not stay in Pakistan.” 

“The Conference of Parties welcomes the consideration, for the first time, of matters relating to funding arrangements responding to loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change... establishing the institutional arrangements… for averting, minimizing and addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change… including supporting its mandated role in catalysing technical assistance for the implementation of the relevant approaches at the local, national and regional level in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change,” said a version of the draft agreement made available on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. by Indian time.

Earlier, European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said that the European Union (EU) would “rather have no result than a bad result”, and was willing to walk out of the negotiations altogether. The EU wants COP 27 to have strong language on cutting emissions and to reaffirm the aspirational goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels.

The G-77 and China had called for the immediate creation of an L&D fund at COP 27, with operational details to be agreed later. A counter proposal from the EU called to prioritise the most climate-vulnerable countries as recipients. They also said the money should come from a “broad funder base”, which is code language for countries, including China and Saudi Arabia, that have become wealthier since they were listed as developing nations in 1992.

Participants at the COP aren’t enthused. “The only solace that the latest text offers to developing countries is a semblance of an institutional structure. This consists of a secretariat, an advisory board, and a network of members. This is too little and too late in the process. There is no funding in sight for loss and damage. The developed world has used its usual tactics to delay and divert the discussion on finance for mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage,” said Vaibhav Chaturvedi, Fellow, Council on Energy Environment and Water (CEEW), a think tank closely engaged with climate policy.

(With inputs from AP and Reuters)

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