Thursday, December 1, 2022

COP27: historic fund to pay for climate damage, without progress in mitigation

The United Nations climate summit that concluded this Sunday in the Egyptian city of Sharm el Sheikh was a “victory” for developing countries, as it will give rise to the first fund to pay for the impacts of climate change, and also a ” disappointment” for those who criticized the lack of ambition.

Almost 200 countries agreed in the early hours of Sunday to support an agreement that responded to a historic demand by the countries most vulnerable to the effects of the climate crisis: the creation of a fund under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change that would help assume the economic cost of the consequences of global warming, a phenomenon to which they have hardly contributed.

Although this issue managed to mark the media agenda in the coverage of COP27 from its inception, the objectives of the summit were focused on increasing the ambition in climate change mitigation plans -the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions-, in the adaptation and financing, aspects that were relegated to the background, according to sources from the European Union.

“At the beginning of these talks, losses and damages were not even on the agenda and now we are making history,” stressed the director of PowerShift Africa, Mohamed Adow, for whom the approval of the fund “demonstrates that this process of the The UN can achieve results, and that the world can recognize that the situation of the vulnerable should not be treated like political football.”

Along the same lines, commented the president of the World Resources Institute (WRI), Ani Dasgupta, who described the result as “a historic breakthrough.”

The environmental organizations -many of them present at the meeting in Sharm el Sheikh to closely follow the negotiations-, although they celebrated the success of the new fund for losses and damages and the story of climate justice that led the summit, regretted the lack of ambition on the part of some countries.

For those states furthest behind in climate action, “litigation risks will increase, with more lawsuits not only against governments and fossil fuel companies, but also against food and agriculture, transportation, plastics and finance.” warned from Client Earth.

Expectations were not high in full extension of the conference, which lasted almost two days beyond the official program -something that, on the other hand, is not uncommon in these summits-, because on Saturday night tension persisted in the negotiations and there did not appear to be a strong enough mitigation proposal to satisfy the parties demanding more climate action.

Finally, the loss and damage fund obtained the green light in the plenary session, applauded by the island states, which were especially involved in the dialogue so that the developed countries and the greatest historical culprits in the climate crisis would pay for the extreme phenomena suffered in to a greater extent the so-called Global South.

The special envoy of the Prime Minister of Barbados, Avinash Persaud, who described the fund as “a victory for humanity”, appreciated the “strong leadership of the alliance of small island states” and the “surprising degree of solidarity shown by the rest in the world, from the major industrialized developing countries to the developed ones.

The final agreement, however, disappointed the European Union, as well as other parties who tried to get “strong language” adopted in the mitigation document, with an express request to countries to phase out the use of fuels. fossil fuels, and not just coal, as stated in the declaration, called the “Sharm el Sheikh Implementation Plan”.

“To tackle climate change it is necessary that all financial flows support the transition towards low carbon emissions: the EU came here to get strong language and we are disappointed that we did not achieve it”, declared the vice-president of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, who lamented that “a lot of speed” has been lost since the Glasgow Pact due to the energy crisis that has favored the war in Ukraine.

Likewise, the Secretary General of the UN, António Guterres, who pointed out that COP27 had taken “a step forward for justice”, stressed that there is a “red line” that should not be crossed, referring to the warming of 1.5 degrees that should not be exceeded at the end of this century, for which it is necessary to “invest massively in renewable energies” and end the “addiction to fossil fuels”.

The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said this Sunday that what was agreed by COP27 “marks a small step towards climate justice”, but warned that “much more is needed for the planet” because it has not been fulfilled with the commitment of the main emitters of the world to gradually reduce fossil fuels, nor with the new commitments on climate mitigation.

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