COP27 provides breakthrough in climate fund at the expense of progress on emissions

  • Climate summit COP27 ends after marathon weekend negotiations
  • Final deal creates 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 agreement to create a fund to help poor countries ravaged by climate disasters, although many lamented the lack of ambition in tackling the emissions they cause.

The deal was widely hailed as a triumph for responding to the devastating impact global warming is already having on fragile countries. But many countries said they felt pressured to give up tougher commitments to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius so that the landmark Loss and Damages Fund deal could go ahead.

Delegates – exhausted from intense, nightly negotiations – raised no objections as Egypt’s COP27 President Sameh Shoukry blasted through the final agenda and hammered through the deal.

Despite not agreeing on a stronger commitment to the 1.5°C target set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement, “we went with what the agreement was here because we want to stand with the most vulnerable”, said German climate secretary Jennifer Morgan, visibly shaken. Reuters.

When asked by Reuters whether the goal of a stronger climate-fighting ambition had been compromised for the deal, Mexico’s chief climate negotiator Camila Zepeda summed up the mood among the exhausted negotiators.

‘Probably. You win when you can.’

LOSS AND DAMAGE

The loss and damage fund deal represented a diplomatic coup for small islands and other vulnerable countries by winning over the 27-nation European Union and the United States, which had long resisted the idea for fear that such a fund would could open to legal liability for historical emissions.

Those concerns were addressed with language in the agreement calling for the funds to be drawn from a variety of existing sources, including financial institutions, rather than relying on rich countries to pay.

The Marshall Islands’ climate envoy said she was “exhausted” but happy with the fund’s approval. “So many people told us this 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, with the agreement only providing a roadmap for resolving lingering questions, including who would oversee the fun, how the money would be distributed – and to whom.

US special envoy John Kerry, who was not personally at the weekend negotiations after testing positive for COVID-19, welcomed the deal on Sunday to “establish arrangements to respond to the devastating impact of climate change on vulnerable communities across worldwide.”

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

FOSSIL FUEL FIZZLE

The price paid for a loss and damage fund deal was most clearly reflected in the language surrounding emission reductions and reducing the use of polluting fossil fuels – known in the language of the UN climate negotiations as ‘mitigation’.

Last year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, was all about keeping the 1.5°C target alive as scientists warn that if warming exceeds that threshold, climate change will lead to extremes.

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 praising the loss and damage deal, many countries criticized COP27’s failure to take mitigation further and said some countries were trying to reverse commitments in the Glasgow Climate Pact.

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

He listed a number of ambition-boosting measures that were stymied during the negotiations of Egypt’s final COP27 deal: “Emissions peak before 2025, as science tells us, is that necessary? Not in this text. Clear follow-up of coal phase-out ? 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 echoes the wording from Glasgow, calling on parties to “accelerate efforts to phase out unabated coal-fired power stations and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”.

Attempts to include a commitment to phase out, or at least phase out, all fossil fuels were thwarted.

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

Critics pointed to a section that they said undermined Glasgow’s commitment to regularly renew its emissions targets – wording that the work program “would not impose any new targets or targets”. Another part of the COP27 agreement dropped the idea of ​​annual target renewal in favor of a return to a longer five-year cycle outlined in the Paris Pact.

“It is beyond frustrating to see overdue mitigation and fossil energy phase-out measures being held back by a number of major emitters and oil producers,” said German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.

The deal also included a reference to “low-emissions energy,” leading some to worry that it opened the door to growing use of natural gas — a fossil fuel that leads to both carbon dioxide and methane emissions.

“It’s not a complete 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, who will face flooding in the future due to climate-driven sea level rise, lamented the lack of ambition to reduce emissions.

“I recognize the progress we have made in COP27” with the loss and damage fund, Aminath Shauna told the plenary. But “we have failed on mitigation … We need to make sure we raise the ambition to reach emissions by 2025. We need to phase out fossil fuels.”

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

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *