COP27 offers climate fund breakthrough at the cost of emissions progress

COP27 offers climate fund breakthrough at the cost of emissions progress
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  • The COP27 climate summit ends after a marathon weekend of negotiations
  • Final agreement meets creation of historic climate finance fund
  • Negotiators say some blocked tougher emissions targets

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt, Nov 20 (Reuters) – Countries wrapped up this year’s UN climate summit on Sunday with a hotly contested deal to create a fund to help poor countries hit by weather disasters, even as many they lamented their lack of ambition. to deal with the emissions that cause them.

The agreement was widely hailed as a triumph for responding to the devastating impact that global warming is already having on vulnerable countries. But many countries said they felt pressured to give up tougher commitments to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to pass the landmark deal on the loss and damage fund.

Delegates, exhausted after intense negotiations overnight, raised no objections as Egypt’s COP27 President Sameh Shoukry reviewed the final agenda items and approved the deal.

Despite not having an agreement for a stronger commitment to the 1.5 C target set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement, “we are following the agreement here because we want to be with the most vulnerable,” Germany’s climate secretary said, Jennifer Morgan, visibly shaken. Reuters.

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

“Probably. You win when you can.”


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

Those concerns were assuaged with language in the deal that calls for funds to come from a variety of existing sources, including financial institutions, rather than relying on wealthy nations to pay.

The Marshall Islands’ climate envoy said she was “exhausted” but happy with the approval of the fund. “A lot of people all this week told us we weren’t going to make it,” said Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner. “I’m glad they were wrong.”

But it will likely be several years before the fund even exists, and the agreement sets out only a roadmap to resolve lingering questions, such as who will oversee the fund, how the money will be distributed, and to whom.

US special climate envoy John Kerry, who was not at the weekend negotiations in person after testing positive for COVID-19, on Sunday welcomed the deal to “make arrangements to respond to the devastating impact of climate change in vulnerable communities around the world.

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


The price paid for a loss and damages fund deal was most evident in language about cutting emissions and reducing the use of polluting fossil fuels, known in UN climate talks jargon as “mitigation.”

Last year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, focused on the issue of keeping the 1.5°C target alive, as scientists warn that warming beyond that threshold would cause climate change to spiral to extremes.

Countries were then asked to update their national climate targets before this year’s Egypt summit. Only a fraction of the nearly 200 parties did.

While they praised the deal on loss and damage, many countries condemned the failure of COP27 to push mitigation further, saying some countries were trying to reverse commitments made in the Glasgow Climate Pact.

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

He listed a number of measures to boost ambition that were blocked in negotiations for the final COP27 deal in Egypt: “Are emissions peaking before 2025 as science tells us they need to? Not in this text. Clear tracking of phase-down.” coal? Not in this text. A clear commitment to phase out all fossil fuels? Not in this text.”

On fossil fuels, the COP27 agreement text largely repeats the Glasgow text, calling on parties to accelerate “efforts toward phasing out coal power and phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.” .

Efforts to include a commitment to phase out, or at least gradually reduce, all fossil fuels were frustrated.

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

Critics pointed to a section that they said undermined Glasgow’s commitment to regularly renew emissions targets, with language saying the work program “would not impose new targets or targets”. Another section of the COP27 agreement abandoned the idea of ​​annual renewal of targets in favor of returning to a longer five-year cycle set out in the Paris pact.

“It is beyond frustrating to see several large emitters and oil producers obstructing the backlog in mitigating and phasing out fossil fuels,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said.

The deal also included a reference to “low-emissions energy,” raising concerns among some that it opened the door to increased use of natural gas, a fossil fuel that generates carbon dioxide and methane emissions.

“It doesn’t break Glasgow completely, but it doesn’t increase the ambition at all,” Norwegian Climate Minister Espen Barth Eide told reporters.

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

“I appreciate the progress we made at COP27” with the loss and damage fund, Aminath Shauna told plenary. But “we have failed to mitigate… We have to make sure we raise the ambition to peak emissions by 2025. We have to phase out fossil fuels.”

(This story has been resubmitted 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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