A tense UN climate summit ended on Sunday with a breakthrough agreement on finance to help vulnerable countries cope with the severe effects of global warming – but also with outrage over a failure to push for greater ambition on reducing emissions.
The two-week meetings in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, which appeared to be on the verge of collapse at times, yielded a significant breakthrough on a fund for climate “loss and damage”. Tired delegates applauded as the loss and damage fund was approved as the sun rose Sunday after nearly two more days of round-the-clock deliberations.
However, the celebration of that accomplishment also met with strong warnings. The UN climate talks, according to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, “took a crucial step towards justice” with the loss and damage fund, but fell short of pressing for the urgent carbon-cutting needed to combat global warming.
The final COP27 statement, which covered the wide range of global activities to deal with a warming planet, maintained the aspirational aim of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. For the first time, it contained wording on renewable energy, while reaffirming past requests to expedite “efforts toward the phasedown of unabated coal power and the phase-out of costly fossil fuel subsidies.”
However, it did not go much further than a similar resolution made at last year’s COP26 meeting in Glasgow on crucial concerns related to reducing global warming emissions. Germany’s Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, expressed disappointment that the emissions reductions and fossil fuel phase-out were “obstructed by a number of significant emitters and oil producers.”
Some delegations have complained about a lack of transparency during negotiations, while Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, the COP27 chair, has stated that any blunders were “absolutely not intentional.”
The agreement on loss and damage, which had barely made it onto the negotiation table, gained vital traction throughout the talks. Developing countries relentlessly campaigned for the fund, eventually securing the support of wealthier polluters long wary of open-ended liability.
Losses and Damages
With approximately 1.2 degrees Celsius of warming so far, the world has seen a cascade of climate-driven extremes, shedding focus on the misery of developing countries confronted with growing calamities, as well as energy and food price crises and ballooning debt.
The World Bank projected that this year’s severe floods in Pakistan cost $30 billion in damage and economic loss. The fund would target developing countries “that are most vulnerable to the detrimental effects of climate change,” as recommended by the EU.
The Europeans also intended to widen the funding base to include China and other better-off emerging markets. The final loss and damage wording delegated many of the more difficult issues to a transitional committee, which will report to next year’s climate meeting in Dubai in order to get the money operational.
According to scientists, limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is a significantly safer guardrail against catastrophic climate impacts, with the world now off track and on track for approximately 2.5 degrees Celsius under current promises and plans.
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