COP27 delivers climate fund breakthrough at cost of progress on emissions

  • The COP27 climate summit ends after a race weekend of negotiations
  • The final agreement provides for the creation of a historic climate fund
  • Negotiators say others have avoided strict emissions targets

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt, Nov 20 (Reuters) – Countries closed this year’s UN climate summit on Sunday with a tough deal to create a fund to help poor countries hit by climate disasters, as many lamented a lack of ambition. in dealing with the emissions that cause them.

The agreement was widely hailed as a victory to respond to the devastating impact global warming is already having on vulnerable countries. But many countries have felt pressured to give up on strict commitments to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius so that the important treaty on losses and damage funds can continue.

Delegates – exhausted after heated, all-night negotiations – did not argue as Egypt’s COP27 President Sameh Shoukry reviewed the final agenda items and presented the agreement.

Although we do not have a firm commitment to the 1.5 C goal set in the 2015 Paris Agreement, “we went with the agreement that was here because we want to stand with those who are at risk,” German climate secretary Jennifer Morgan, visibly shaken, said. Reuters.

When asked by Reuters if the goal of a strong desire to fight climate has been affected by the agreement, Mexico’s main climate negotiator Camila Zepeda summed up the mood among the exhausted negotiators.

“Maybe. You take the win when you can.”

LOSS AND DAMAGE

The loss and damage funding agreement marked a diplomatic alliance for small islands and other vulnerable nations in winning the 27-nation European Union and the United States, which had previously opposed the idea for fear that the fund would open them up legally. responsible for the release of history.

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Those concerns were tempered by language in the agreement calling for the money to come from a variety of available sources, including financial institutions, rather than relying on rich countries to pay.

A climate envoy from the Marshall Islands said he was “exhausted” but delighted by the fund’s recognition. “We’ve had a lot of people this week telling us we’re not going to get it,” said Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner. “I’m so glad they were wrong.”

But it is likely to take several years before the fund is in place, the agreement only sets the stage for resolving questions including who will oversee the fund, how the money will be distributed – and to whom.

Special US climate envoy John Kerry, who was absent from the weekend talks in person after testing positive for COVID-19, on Sunday accepted the agreement “to establish arrangements to respond to the negative impact of climate change on vulnerable populations around the world.”

In a statement, he said he would continue to press major exporters like China to “significantly increase their ambition” in keeping the 1.5 C goal alive.

FOSSIL FIZZLE

The price paid in the agreement to fund loss and damage was most evident in the language about reducing emissions and reducing the use of polluting fossil fuels – known in the parlance of the UN climate talks as “reduction.”

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Last year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, focused on the theme of keeping the 1.5C target alive – as scientists warn that warming beyond this limit could see climate change reach extremes.

Countries are therefore being asked to update their national climate targets ahead of this year’s summit in Egypt. Only a handful of the approximately 200 groups do so.

While praising the loss and damage agreement, many countries have criticized COP27’s failure to push forward on mitigation and say some countries are trying to roll back commitments made in the Glasgow Climate Pact.

“We had to fight hard to hold the Glasgow line,” said Alok Sharma, the architect of the Glasgow agreement, in frustration.

He listed a number of ambitious measures that were blocked from negotiating the final COP27 agreement in Egypt: “High emissions before 2025 as science tells us is necessary? Not in this document. Clarify a step down. Coal? Not in this document. A clear commitment to phase out all fossil fuels? No in this text.”

On fossil fuels, the COP27 text echoes the words from Glasgow, calling on parties to accelerate “efforts towards the elimination of fossil fuels and the elimination of inefficient fossil fuels.”

Efforts to include a commitment to eliminate, or at least decrease, all fossil fuels are blocked.

A separate agreement on the “reduction program”, adopted on Sunday, contains several clauses, including the European Union, which feel weak in their commitment to the target of reducing emissions.

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Critics point to a section they say undermines Glasgow’s commitment to regularly updating emissions targets – with language saying the work program “will not set new targets or targets”. Another part of the COP27 agreement was to abandon the idea of ​​annual target renewal in favor of the longer five-year cycle established in the Paris agreement.

“It is very troubling to see past measures to reduce and eliminate fossil fuels by many exporters and oil producers,” said German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.

The agreement also includes a reference to “low emission energy,” raising concerns among some that it opens the door to the growing use of natural gas – a fossil fuel that leads to both carbon dioxide and methane emissions.

“It doesn’t completely break with Glasgow, but it doesn’t raise ambitions at all,” Norway’s Climate Minister Espen Barth Eide told reporters.

The Maldives’ climate minister, who faces future climate change due to climate-driven sea level rise, has lamented the lack of ambition to curb emissions.

“I see the progress we made at COP27” with the loss and damage fund, Aminath Shauna told the plenary. But “we have failed to reduce … We need to make sure we increase our ambitions to increase emissions by 2025. We need to phase out fossil fuels.”

(This story has been updated to correct a typo in paragraph 10.)

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

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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