COP27 deal delivers landmark on ‘loss and damage’

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Countries finally came to an agreement at the COP27 climate summit early on Sunday. It sets up a ‘loss and damage’ fund to help poor countries being battered by climate disasters but does not boost efforts to tackle the emissions causing them.

After tense negotiations that ran through the night, the Egyptian COP27 presidency released the final text for a deal – and called a plenary session to quickly push it through.

Negotiators made no objections as COP27’s president, Sameh Shoukry , rattled through the final agenda items in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh .

“I now invite the COP to adopt the decision entitled funding arrangements for responding to loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change,” said Shoukry.

The swift approval for creating a dedicated loss and damage fund still left many of the most controversial decisions on the fund until next year, including who should pay into it.

Delegates praised the breakthrough on setting up the fund as climate justice, for its aim in helping vulnerable countries cope with storms, floods and other disasters being fueled by rich nations’ historic carbon emissions.

But some felt the deal did not go far enough, including EU climate policy chief, Frans Timmermans.

Timmermans says, “This is the make or break decade, but what we have in front of us is not enough of a step forward for people and planet. It does not bring enough added efforts from major emitters to increase and accelerate their emissions cuts. It does not bring a higher degree of confidence that we will achieve the commitments made under the Paris agreement and in Glasgow last year. it does not address the yawning gap between climate science and our climate policies.”

COP26 president, Alok Sharma, was also critical of the final text in his closing comments.

“Emissions peaking before 2025 as the science tells us is necessary, 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. And the energy text weakened in the final minutes. Friends, I said in Glasgow that the pulse of 1.5 is weak, unfortunately, it remains on life support.” said Sharma.

Small island nations facing a climate-driven rise in sea level had pushed for the loss and damage deal, but lamented a lack of ambition on curbing emissions.

The two-week summit, billed as the “African COP” has been seen as a test of global resolve to fight climate change – even as a war in Europe, energy market turmoil and rampant consumer inflation distract international attention.