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COP27 brings climate fund breakthrough at the expense of progress on emissions

COP27 brings climate fund breakthrough at the expense of progress on emissions
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  • COP27 climate summit ends after marathon negotiations at the weekend
  • The final agreement results in the creation of a historic climate finance fund
  • Negotiators say some have blocked tighter emissions targets

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt, Nov 20 (Reuters) – Countries closed this year’s UN climate summit on Sunday with a hard-fought deal to set up a fund to help poor countries hit by climate-related disasters, though many of its They complained of a lack of ambition … in combating the emissions that cause them.

The deal was widely hailed as a triumph for responding to the devastating impact global warming is already having on vulnerable countries. But many countries said they felt pressured to abandon stricter commitments to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius so that the landmark Losses and Damages Fund deal can be completed.

Delegates – exhausted after intense overnight negotiations – raised no objection as Egypt’s COP27 President Sameh Shoukry rattled through the final agenda items and hammered through the deal.

Although there was no agreement on a stronger commitment to the 1.5 degree target set in the 2015 Paris Agreement, “we have stuck to what was agreed here because we want to stand by the weakest,” said Germany’s climate minister Jennifer Morgan visibly shaken Reuters.

Asked by Reuters if the deal’s goal of stronger climate action had been jeopardized, Mexico’s chief climate negotiator Camila Zepeda summed up sentiment among weary negotiators.

“Probably. You win if you can.”

LOSS AND DAMAGE

The deal for a loss and damage fund was a diplomatic coup for small islands and other vulnerable nations as they won over the 27-nation European Union and the United States, which had long resisted the idea for fear that a such funds could open them to legal liability for historic issues.

Those concerns were allayed by language in the agreement, which called for the funds to come from a variety of existing sources, including financial institutions, rather than relying on rich nations’ deposits.

The Marshall Islands Climate Ambassador said she was “exhausted” but happy with the fund’s approval. “So many people were telling us all week that we weren’t going to get it,” said Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner. “So glad they were wrong.”

But it will likely be several years before the fund exists, as the agreement only provides a roadmap for resolving outstanding issues, including who would oversee the fun, how the money would be distributed — and to whom.

US Special Representative for Climate Issues John Kerry, who did not personally attend the weekend’s negotiations after testing positive for COVID-19, on Sunday welcomed the agreement to “take precautions to address the devastating effects of climate change on vulnerable communities.” to respond around the world”.

In a statement, he said he would continue to urge big emitters like China to “significantly increase their ambition” to keep the 1.5 degree target alive.

FOSSIL FUEL BRICKS

The price paid for an agreement on the Losses and Damages Fund was most evident in the language surrounding emissions cuts and reducing the use of polluting fossil fuels – known as “mitigation” in the parlance of the UN climate talks.

Last year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, had focused on the issue of keeping the 1.5 degree target alive – as scientists warned that warming beyond that threshold would lead to an extreme spiral in climate change .

Countries were then asked to update their national climate targets ahead of this year’s Egypt summit. Only a fraction of the nearly 200 parties did so.

While many countries praised the loss-and-damage deal, they condemned COP27’s failure to move forward with mitigation and said some countries are trying to roll back on commitments made in the Glasgow Climate Pact.

“We had to fight relentlessly to hold the Glasgow line,” said a visibly frustrated Alok Sharma, architect of the Glasgow deal, at the summit.

He listed a number of ambitious measures that were slowed down in the negotiations for the final COP27 agreement in Egypt: “Emissionspeaking before 2025 as the science does not in this text. Clear follow-through on the phase down of coal? Not in this text. A clear commitment to phase out all fossil fuels? Not in this text.”

On fossil fuels, the COP27 deal text largely repeats Glasgow’s wording, calling on the parties to “accelerate efforts to phase out unabated coal power and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”.

Efforts to include a commitment to phase out, or at least phase out, all fossil fuels have been thwarted.

A separate “mitigation work programme”, also approved on Sunday, contained several clauses that some parties, including the European Union, felt weakened commitment to increasingly ambitious emissions reduction targets.

Critics pointed to a section they said undermined Glasgow’s commitment to regularly renew emissions targets – using language that the work program would “impose no new targets or targets”. Another leg of the COP27 deal dropped the idea of ​​an annual target renewal in favor of a return to a longer five-year cycle enshrined in the Paris Pact.

“It is beyond frustrating to see overdue steps to mitigate and phase out fossil fuels being blocked by a number of large emitters and oil producers,” said German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.

The deal also included a reference to “low-carbon energy,” raising concern from some that it opened the door to increased use of natural gas — a fossil fuel that results in both carbon dioxide and methane emissions.

“It doesn’t completely break with Glasgow, but it doesn’t inspire any ambition at all,” Norway’s climate minister Espen Barth Eide told reporters.

The climate minister of the Maldives, which will face future flooding due to climate-related sea level rise, lamented the lack of ambition in curbing emissions.

“I recognize the progress we made at COP27 with the Losses and Damages Fund,” Aminath Shauna said in plenary. But “we failed at mitigation… We need to make sure we increase our ambition to reach peak emissions by 2025. We need to phase out fossil fuels.”

Reporting by Valerie Volcovici, Dominic Evans and William James; Writing from Katy Daigle

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Policy.

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