COP27 ends with establishment of loss and damage fund but...

Climate activists, from left, Luisa Neubauer, of Germany, and Patience Nabukalu, of Uganda, hold signs with other youth activists in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. [AP Photo]

COP27 has ended with a landmark deal that will see the establishment of a loss and damage fund

Parties at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27) agreed early Sunday morning after extended climate talks in Sharma El-Sheikh, Egypt. 

This is good news for countries like Kenya that have been affected by the effects of climate change

While it is a good step, the details are yet to be agreed upon as costs from extreme weather soar to over $200 billion annually.

There is no clarity on the terms of the funding arrangements. A reassessment of which countries pay and which receive will be a major issue in COP28. 

The new fund will see developed countries contribute to a global fund to save lives and livelihoods from climate change-related disasters.

The agreement saw Parties recommit to keeping the 1.5°C target for global temperature rise intact and significant progress made across the board on climate issues.

Tough negotiations 

The agreement followed negotiations that ran into extra time and saw the Presidency and Parties locked in detailed discussions around the clock.

“Despite the difficulties and challenges of our times, the divergence of views, level of ambition or apprehension, we remain committed to the fight against climate change,”  said COP27 President Sameh Shoukry at the closing ceremony on Sunday 20 November, in Sharma El-Sheikh Egypt. 

Maisa Rojas, minister of environment of Chile, left, and Germany's climate envoy Jennifer Morgan talk ahead of a closing plenary session at the COP27 U.N. Climate Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. [AP Photo]

Little to address causes of global warming 

While it is good news parties have agreed to establish a loss and damage fund, the talks did little to address the causes of global warming. 

The scale of influence of the fossil-fuel industry and its supporting states was on full display with further weakening of language excluding fossil fuels.

The “balance” of this COP was between (i) desires of the developed world to see greater mitigation ambition and to expand the list of who is responsible for paying for climate action and (ii) the developing world’s demands for recognition and support in the face of escalating climate impacts. 

A lot of compromises were made and the baseline of emissions reductions achieved in Glasgow was barely protected. 

 New language including “low emissions” energy alongside renewables as the energy sources of the future is a significant loophole, as the undefined term could be used to justify new fossil fuel development against the clear guidance of the IPCC and IEA.

 In the dying hours of COP27,the deal was weakened with the 1.5C target relegated to the section on Science, whereas in Glasgow it sat alongside the solutions to the climate crisis in the Mitigation section.

Countries failed to agree to a phasedown of all fossil fuels, building on a call to phasedown coal at COP26 in Glasgow. Perhaps this was no surprise: the presence of the oil, gas and big agriculture industries hung heavy over these talks, with 600+ lobbyists at the summit and a stream of gas deals struck on the sidelines. 

This failure to move on emissions occurred even though the world has experienced politics-altering climate impacts such as flooding in Pakistan, Nigeria and Australia and drought in the US will mean support structures like the loss and damage fund have to work even harder. 

1.5C was referenced in the deal, but only recognition of the goal. Pathways and plans to actually achieve it were absent. Holding warming to this limit will reduce the suffering of much of the world - what matters is real, rapid emissions cuts. We need leaders to break from the fossil-fuel industry once and for all. 

Xie Zhenhua, China's special envoy for climate, left, and Sherry Rehman, minister of climate change for Pakistan, pose for photos in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. [AP Photo]

Mitigation and  1.5C

The cover decision - lists transitioning renewables -  and low-emissions energy systems - as a way to solve the current energy crisis but there is no similar advance on the fossil fuels side, which leaves things where they were in Glasgow, with an unabated coal phase down.

Climate plans: The ask for counties to toughen up their climate plans before COP28 is also soft.

1.5C: commitment to the limit was reaffirmed in the cover decision and elsewhere but actions agreed at COP27 to get on to the pathway were missing. The time to do so is growing perilously short. While references to 1.5 in the final text are welcome, it's only recognition and there is no detail on how it will be achieved. What matters is real cuts made in the real world. We need leaders to break from the fossil-fuel industry.

The Mitigation Work Program: is intended to cut emissions before 2030. In a positive development, the program will extend til 2030 but it cannot agree on new targets nor can the work be linked to Glasgow pledges.

Article 6 - Carbon markets 

The Article 6 deal is neither conclusive nor good. But crucially, it’s out of step with reality.

The deal encourages secrecy, backtracks on protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples, and could allow the carbon benefits of some credits to be counted multiple times over.

Continued work next year will be against the backdrop of increased scrutiny, growing scepticism around poor quality offsets, and the looming threat of tighter regulation.

The Standard
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