COP27 delivers climate fund breakthrough at cost of progress on emissions

  • The COP27 climate summit concludes after a marathon weekend of negotiations
  • The final agreement delivers on the creation of a historic climate finance fund
  • Negotiators say some of the stricter emissions targets have been blocked

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt, Nov 20 (Reuters) – Countries closed this year’s U.N. climate conference on Sunday with a hard-fought agreement to create funds to help poor countries hit by climate disasters, although many lamented a lack of ambition. To cope with the resulting emissions.

The agreement was widely hailed as a response to the devastating effects of global warming on already vulnerable countries. But many countries said they felt pressured to abandon tough commitments to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, in order to reach a landmark deal on losses and damage funding.

Delegates – exhausted after intense, all-night negotiations – raised no objections as Egypt’s COP27 president Sameh Shoukry mumbled over the final agenda item and hammered out the deal.

Despite no agreement on a firmer commitment to the 1.5 C goal set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement, “we made the deal here because we want to stand with the most vulnerable people,” Germany’s Climate Secretary Jennifer Morgan said, visibly shaken. Reuters.

Asked by Reuters whether strong climate-fighting ambitions for the deal had been compromised, Camila Zepeda, Mexico’s chief climate negotiator, summed up the mood among exhausted negotiators.

“Maybe. You win when you can.”

loss and damage

The deal on a loss and damage fund marked a diplomatic coup for small islands and other vulnerable nations to win over the 27-nation European Union and the United States, which had long resisted the idea, fearing that such a fund would open them up to legal recourse. Liability for historical emissions.

Those concerns were addressed by language in the agreement calling for funding to come from a variety of existing sources, including financial institutions, rather than relying on rich nations to pay.

The Marshall Islands’ climate envoy said she was “devastated” but happy with the funding approval. “A lot of people said this week we weren’t going to get it,” Kathy Jetneel-Kijner said. “Glad they were wrong.”

But while it’s likely to be years before the fund is in place, the deal will set out only a roadmap to resolve outstanding questions, including who will oversee the fun, how the money will be distributed — and to whom.

US Special Climate Envoy John Kerry, who was not at the weekend negotiations after testing positive for COVID-19, welcomed the deal on Sunday “to establish mechanisms to respond to the devastating effects of climate change on vulnerable communities around the world”.

In a statement, they said they would continue to press major emitters such as China to “significantly raise their ambitions” to keep the 1.5C goal alive.

Fossil fuel fizzles

The price paid for an agreement on loss and damage funding is most evident in the language of reducing emissions and reducing the use of polluting fossil fuels – known as “mitigation” in the parlance of the UN climate negotiations.

Last year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, focused on the theme of keeping the 1.5C goal alive – as scientists warned that warming beyond that threshold would lead to extreme climate change.

Countries were 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 Harms and Damages Agreement, many countries condemned COP27’s failure to further increase mitigation, and some countries said they were seeking to backtrack on commitments made in the Glasgow Climate Agreement.

Alok Sharma, architect of the Glasgow Agreement, told the summit, “We had to fight tirelessly to maintain the Glasgow line.”

He listed a number of ambition-boosting measures that stalled the final COP27 agreement negotiations in Egypt: “Do emissions levels need to increase before 2025 as science suggests? Not in this text. Clear follow-through on phase down of coal? Not in this text. Clear phasing out of all fossil fuels Commitment? Not in this text.”

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

Attempts to include a commitment to phase out or at least phase down all fossil fuels have failed.

A separate “mitigation action program” deal approved Sunday contains several clauses that some parties, including the European Union, see as a weak commitment to more ambitious emissions-reduction targets.

Critics pointed to a section they said undermined Glasgow’s commitment to regularly renewing emissions targets – including language that the work program “will not impose new targets or objectives”. Another part of the COP27 agreement abandoned the idea of ​​annual target renewal in favor of returning to the longer five-year cycle set out in the Paris Agreement.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock said, “Timely steps on mitigation and the phase-out of fossil energy are being stonewalled by many large 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 completely break with Glasgow, but it doesn’t raise ambitions at all,” Norway’s climate minister Aspen Barth Eid told reporters.

The climate minister of the Maldives, which faces future flooding from climate-driven sea level rise, bemoaned the lack of ambition to curb emissions.

Aminath Shauna told the House, “I recognize the progress we made at COP27 with the loss and damage fund”. But “we have failed to mitigate… we have to increase our ambition to peak emissions by 2025. We have to phase out fossil fuels.”

Reporting by Valerie Wolkowicki, Dominic Evans and William James; Written by Katie Daigle

Our Standards: Principles of Thomson Reuters Trust.

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