COP27 offers a breakthrough in the climate fund at the cost of advances in emissions

  • The COP27 climate summit ends after long negotiations at the end of the week
  • Delivers final agreement on the creation of a landmark climate finance fund
  • Negotiators say some have blocked tougher emissions targets

SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt (November 20) (Reuters) – Countries wrapped up this year’s United Nations climate summit on Sunday with a hard-won agreement to set up a fund to help poor countries hit by climate disasters, even as many lamented its lack of ambition. in dealing with emissions that cause them.

The agreement has been widely hailed as a victory in response to the devastating impact global warming is already having on vulnerable countries. But many countries said they felt pressure to abandon stricter commitments to limit global warming to 1.5C in order to implement the historic deal on the Loss and Damage Fund.

The delegates — exhausted after intense negotiations overnight — raised no objections as Sameh Shoukry, president of COP 27 in Egypt, glanced through the final items on the agenda and sealed the deal.

Although there was no agreement on a stronger commitment to the 1.5°C target set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement, “we went to what the agreement was here because we want to stand with the most vulnerable,” said German Climate Minister Jennifer Morgan, visibly shaken, Reuters.

When asked by Reuters if a stronger, ambitious anti-climate target was jeopardized for the agreement, Mexico’s chief climate negotiator Camila Zepeda summed up the mood among the weary negotiators.

“Probably. You win when you can.”

Losses and damages

The loss and damage fund deal marked a diplomatic coup for the small islands and other weak nations in winning over the 27-nation European Union and the United States, which had long resisted the idea for fear that such a fund would be opened to the law. responsibility for historical emissions.

These concerns were mitigated by language in the agreement calling for the money to come from a variety of existing sources, including financial institutions, rather than relying on rich countries for payment.

The climate envoy from the Marshall Islands said she was “exhausted” but happy with the fund’s approval. “A lot of people have told us all this week that we’re not going to get it,” Cathy Gitnell-Kijner said. “They are so glad they were wrong.”

But it will likely be several years before the fund is established, as the agreement sets out only a roadmap for resolving lingering questions including who will oversee the fund, how the money will be distributed — and to whom.

US special envoy for climate John Kerry, who did not attend the weekend’s negotiations in person after testing positive for the COVID-19 virus, on Sunday welcomed an agreement “to put in place arrangements to respond to the devastating impact of climate change on vulnerable communities around the world.”

In a statement, he said he would continue to press big emitters such as China to “significantly advance their ambition” to keep the 1.5C target alive.

Fossil fuel gas

The price paid for a deal on the Loss and Damage Fund was most explicit in the language about cutting emissions and reducing the use of polluting fossil fuels – known in the parlance of the United Nations climate negotiations as “mitigation”.

Last year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, focused on the topic of keeping the 1.5°C target alive – with scientists warning that warming beyond this threshold would see climate change spiral 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 decried COP27’s failure to push for further mitigation and said some countries were trying to backtrack on commitments made in the Glasgow Climate Pact.

“We had to fight relentlessly to keep the Glasgow line,” Alok Sharma, the architect of the Glasgow deal, told the summit.

He listed a number of ambition-boosting measures that had held up negotiations on the final COP27 agreement in Egypt: “Emissions peaked before 2025 as science tells us is necessary? Not in this text. Clear follow-up to coal phase-down? Not in this text. Clear commitment to phase-out Of all fossil fuels? Not in this text.”

On fossil fuels, the text of the COP27 agreement largely repeats the wording from Glasgow, calling on parties to accelerate “efforts to relentlessly phase out coal power and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”.

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

The separate “mitigation work programme” agreement, approved on Sunday, contained several provisions that some parties, including the European Union, felt weak commitment to more ambitious emissions-reduction targets.

Critics pointed to a section they said undermined Glasgow’s commitment to regularly renewing emissions targets – with language saying the work program “will not force new targets or targets”. Another section of the COP27 agreement dropped the idea of ​​a targeted annual renewal in favor of a return to the longer five-year cycle stipulated in the Paris Pact.

German Foreign Minister Analina Berbock said: “It is very disappointing to see that the late steps on mitigation and phase-out from fossil energy sources are hampered by a large number of gas emitters and oil producers.”

The agreement also included a reference to “low-emissions energy,” which raised concerns among some that it opened the door to increased use of natural gas — a fossil fuel that emits both carbon dioxide and methane.

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

The climate minister of the Maldives, which faces a future flood from climate-induced sea level rise, lamented the lack of ambition to reduce emissions.

“I am aware of the progress we have made at COP 27” with regard to the Loss and Damage Fund, Aminat Shona told the plenary. But “we have failed to mitigate… We have to ensure we increase our ambition to reach peak emissions by 2025. We have to phase out fossil fuels.”

(This story has been reworded to fix a typo in paragraph 10.)

Additional reporting by Valerie Volcovici, Dominic Evans and William James; Written by Katie Daigle

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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