The UN responds to the havoc but slows down climate ambition

The UN responds to the havoc but slows down climate ambition

Finally, the agreement was reached. The closing plenary of the climate conference held in Egypt closed the pact to create a “loss and damage” fund to repair the worst effects of extreme weather in the most vulnerable nations. However, the consensus circumvents new commitments from the countries to intensify the reduction of gas emissions and corner fossil fuels, which cause global warming.

The agreement to promote this fund is a historic victory for many developing nations and least developed countries (many of them island states suffering devastating damage), affected by the impacts of the climate crisis and who have been supporting this demand for years .

The resolutions adopted at the summit emphasize addressing the ravages caused by the climate crisis in vulnerable nations; but they contribute little to actions to address the causes of global warming and the need to combat them at their roots. Reference is made to the goal of stopping global warming at 1.5ºC; but in a soulless way and without it being accompanied by the realization of plans to close the current emissions gap.

António Guterres argues that the new fund to repair ‘loss and damage’ will save lives and property

For this reason, the executive vice-president of the European Commission (EC), Frans Timmermans, was “disappointed” for not having achieved that all this was accompanied by “strong language” in terms of reducing emissions. “Tackling climate change requires that all financial flows support the transition to a low carbon economy: the EU came here to get strong language and we are disappointed that we didn’t get it”, he underlined.

EC President Ursula von der Leyen said the COP27 agreement in Sharm el Sheikh “marks one small step towards climate justice” but warned that “much more is needed for the planet.”

However, climate justice activists present it as a success, because for years they have been demanding a solidarity response from the industrialized world, in the form of fair financial compensation, as a counterpart to extreme weather events (droughts, forest fires, floods and so on) that have been faced by nations vulnerable to emissions from the industrialized world.

General view of the venue where the final agreement of COP27 has been approved

General view of the venue where the final agreement of COP27 has been approved

DPA via Europa Press / EP

Until now, developed nations have been avoiding this hot potato in order not to assume “responsibilities”, and they understand that the fund should simply be used to repair and restore services and equipment in the countries most tragically hit by these devastating episodes. His concern was to avoid acquiring a legal “legal responsibility” that would open the doors to the demand for compensation.

The new fund will make its “donors contribute to saving lives and livelihoods in the face of disasters related to climate change,” the United Nations secretariat greeted effusively when assessing this new aid body. However, many background details remain to be worked out. Therefore, a new committee will be created that will be in charge of outlining the proposal and making recommendations for consideration at the next climate conference (November-December 2023). In the end, the formula for a “mosaic solution” that the EU was asking for, among other countries, which advocated resorting to new financial instruments to help pay for the damage, made its way.

For this reason, it is agreed to “mobilize new and additional resources” in such a way that “sources, funds, processes and initiatives” would be incorporated inside and outside the Climate Change Convention, says the agreement. This committee must propose institutional changes (modalities, structure…), identify these new sources of financing, guarantee coordination and complementarity with existing financing.

Von der Leyen: “It is a small step towards climate justice, but the planet needs much more”

The intention of the EU is that nations that should no longer be considered as “developing countries” (such as China, Arabia, Kuwait or the United Arab Emirates) also contribute. We will have to see if he succeeds. Agreement on this point was facilitated when the US, an opponent for years of this fund, decided not to block it, gave in and opened the door to its creation by accepting its discussion on the agenda at the beginning of the summit.

“The announcement offers hope to vulnerable communities around the world who are struggling to survive climate stress. And it gives some credibility to the COP process,” said Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s climate minister, which suffered devastating floods this year. Rehman hoped the fund would go to countries on the front lines of the climate crisis.

The creation of the fund “has sent a warning signal to polluters that they can no longer get away with destroying the climate,” said Harjeet Singh, head of global policy strategy at Climate Action Network International. “From now on, they will have to pay for the damage they cause and are responsible to the people facing severe storms, devastating floods and rising sea levels,” he added.

The reality is that the fund now lacks concrete resources and there is no guarantee that rich countries will spend anything commensurate with the rising costs of weather disasters on communities least able to cope. In 2009 (Copenhagen summit) the governments of the world agreed that rich countries would provide 100,000 million dollars a year in climate financing to developing countries by 2020 and that amount remains at 83,000 million, according to the OECD).

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