Sharm el-Sheikh. After two weeks of negotiations, COP27 ends at dawn on Sunday with half success, amid the joy of African countries and the disappointment of the European Union.
The closing plenary, initially scheduled for 9pm on Saturday, has been postponed by the hour and finally starts at 4am. The haggard faces of the delegates speak volumes about the effort that the attempt to reach an agreement on the climate has cost the representatives of the various nations.
But at least one result has been obtained: the green light for a fund for the Loss and damage, the money to draw on to repair the damage and losses caused by the climate in developing countries most vulnerable to extreme weather events. A goal crossed after thirty years of discussions.
Cop27, the draft of the final document from the Climate Conference
by Luca Fraioli
The rich countries, which bear the burden of feeding the fund because they are “historic” responsible for the emissions that have altered the climate, had always opposed it. But the Egyptian presidency of Cop27, led by Sameh Shoukry, strongly wanted the theme to be at the top of the agenda of the Sharm el Sheikh Conference, a Cop deliberately defined as “African”. The G77+China (a group that brings together 134 developing countries) was united at the negotiating tables, despite the attempt by the EU head of delegation Frans Timmermans to offer an economic aid mechanism only to the “most vulnerable”, with the justification that the fund cannot be designed to intervene in over 100 developing countries, there would not be sufficient resources.
A Cop 27 agreement on aid to vulnerable countries
by Luca Fraioli
The crack in the confrontation between the North and South of the world opened on Saturday in the middle of the day, when the COP27 presidency presented a new text which partially implemented the requests of the developed countries. “The mention of the ‘most vulnerable’ has been obtained and the question of the enlargement of the donor base is somewhat sketched”, explained the Italian special envoy for the climate Alessandro Modiano. Another crucial point is that of donors: the USA, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan do not want to be the only ones to put in the money and are asking that other economic powers do the same, starting with China. To decide which vulnerable countries will be able to use the loss and damage fund and which nations will have to contribute to it will in any case be a committee set up here at Cop27 and which will have to report to Cop28 in Dubai next year.
Once the conditions set by the West were accepted, albeit mildly, the conditions for an agreement were created. And at that point the positive conclusion of Cop27 seemed within reach. The last night was supposed to serve to untie the many remaining knots. Starting with mitigation, those measures that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and therefore curb global warming. Those who “gave in” on Loss and damage asked in return for a stringent commitment, in the final text, to keep the goal of 1.5 degrees more warming than in the pre-industrial era “alive”. And that the gradual reduction of all fossil fuels be explicitly mentioned, in particular by setting the peak of emissions at 2025, the latter steps opposed by many neighboring “oilmen” of the Egyptian landlords, starting with Saudi Arabia.
A very tough tug of war, at the basis of the continuous nocturnal postponements of the decisive plenary session. At dawn the fund for the Loss and damage remains the only truly great result of Cop27. In fact, the final text of the “cover decision”, the document that summarizes the political decisions, lacks the commitment for a safe and socially sustainable exit from fossil fuels. “In Sharm we saw an explicit attempt by companies and oil and gas producing countries to slow down a necessary and now inevitable transition,” says Giulia Giordano, head of international programs at the Italian think tank Ecco.
Timmermans’ disappointment is clear, who for once reads his speech instead of going off the cuff: “We accept this agreement reluctantly. Friends are true friends only if they also tell each other what the other would not like to hear”, begins the head of the EU delegation. “We are proud to have contributed to solving the loss and damage problem, but we have lost an opportunity and a lot of time here on emission reductions, compared to the Glasgow Cop26. Starting tomorrow we will get to work to remedy the COP28 in Dubai. We are at 1.2 degrees of warming and we have heard these days what effects this is already causing. But the solution is not to finance a fund to remedy the damage, it is to invest our resources to drastically reduce the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere”.
At seven in the morning also arrives the declaration of the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who had spent a great deal for a breakthrough in the fight against climate change. “I welcome the decision to set up a loss and damage fund and make it operational in the coming period. Clearly, this will not be enough, but it is an absolutely necessary political signal to rebuild the broken trust,” Guterres writes. “However our planet is still in the emergency room. We need to drastically reduce emissions now, and this is a problem that COP27 has not addressed”, underlines the UN Secretary General. The red line that we must not cross is the one that takes our planet beyond the temperature limit of 1.5 degrees. To have any hope of maintaining 1.5, we need to invest heavily in renewable energy and end our dependence on fossil fuels. COP27 concludes with many tasks and little time”.
“This Conference has however marked a paradigm shift, which goes beyond the climate issue,” comments Jacopo Bencini, analyst at the Italian Climate Network. “We were used to a world where the five nations sitting on the UN Security Council decided and directed. Here in Sharm, thanks to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict that has broken the mold, the countries of the southern hemisphere have begun to make their numbers count”.