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Cop27 on the verge of a “historic milestone” as rich countries give up climate aid to the poor | Cop27

The world’s poorest countries were on the verge of a historic victory last night at the climate talks, as wealthy governments appeared poised to finally deliver aid to those devastated by extreme weather.

Developing countries have been asking for “loss and damage” aid – financial aid to save and rebuild stricken countries after a climate-related disaster – for more than a decade.

But rich countries have so far refused, instead providing limited cash to help them cut greenhouse gas emissions and build defenses against extreme weather.

“Spirits are high,” said Jean Su, director of energy justice at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Climate-vulnerable nations and civil society are taking a big step toward establishing a loss and damage fund, which has been in the works for more than a decade.”

Maisa Rojas, Chile’s environment minister, said the fund would be a “historic milestone”.

A deal was still in doubt as time ticked on the extension of the United Nations Cop27 climate summit in Egypt, well beyond Friday’s deadline for delegates.

However, as the EU, US, UK and other developed countries had all agreed in principle by mid-evening that a loss and damage financing mechanism should be put in place, it now seems inevitable in one form or another.

Mohamed Adow, director of energy and climate at think tank Power Shift Africa, said it was likely a fund would emerge. “Cop27 has done what no other Cop has done and created a loss and damage fund to support the communities most affected by climate change. This is something vulnerable countries have been calling for since the Summit of the Earth of Rio in 1992,” he said.

“To quote the Three Lions England football song, after 30 years of suffering, climate action is finally returning to African soil here in Egypt.”

It was a day of great drama in Sharm el-Sheikh and bitter conflict between rich and poor nations. Some of the world’s poorest countries have denounced the rich world for delaying action and denying financial aid to afflicted countries for so long.

Rich countries have sought to argue that fast-growing economies such as China and oil producers such as Saudi Arabia and other oil states should contribute rather than receive funds to repair ‘loss and damage’ climatic.

They also want to ensure that the countries receiving money from the fund are the most vulnerable, rather than those whose major economies are still classified as “developing” under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. , signed in 1992.

Vanessa Nakate, a young activist from Uganda, said: “Cop27 was supposed to be the African cop, but the needs of Africans have been hampered everywhere. The losses and damages in vulnerable countries are now beyond recognition, but some developed countries here in Egypt have decided to ignore our suffering. Young people were unable to make their voices heard at COP27 due to restrictions on protests, but our movement is growing and ordinary people everywhere are beginning to hold their governments accountable for the climate crisis.

The UK has fought hard throughout the day to keep alive a global vow made last year at COP26 in Glasgow to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. Some countries – including Saudi Arabia, Brazil and at times China – had threatened to undo that pledge, weakening the temperature target and scrapping the Glasgow requirement for countries to update their reduction plans emissions each year.

European Commission Vice-President in charge of the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans speaking to the press during the conference in Sharm el-Sheikh on November 19.
European Commission Vice-President in charge of the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, speaking to the press during the conference in Sharm el-Sheikh on November 19. Photograph: Sedat Suna/EPA

This stall was unacceptable to many developed and developing countries, who view the Glasgow Commitments as a minimum that should be improved, not rolled back. “What we see is Glasgow less, and we need to see Glasgow more,” said a negotiator from a developed country.

Alok Sharma, the UK’s Cop26 chairman, has warned the Egyptian hosts that the fortnightly conference will be a failure unless the 1.5C target is maintained.

The Egyptian hosts have come under heavy criticism over their methods of negotiating an agreement, showing drafts of the final text to individually selected countries, rather than allowing them to work together. A veteran delegate called it “non-transparent, unpredictable and chaotic”.

There was also a rare moment of unity, when the United States and China unexpectedly patched up their diplomatic spat and reignited a joint partnership that will mean the world’s two largest emitters and largest economies will cooperate on ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The final marathon trading session continued late into the night past the 6 p.m. local time Friday deadline. Workers dismantled cafes, stalls and pavilions, leaving food and drink hard to find, as delegates rushed to assemble after a hastily called meeting. For long stretches, it was unclear what the format was for trying to reach agreement, and in some cases delegates appeared to be negotiating from different texts.

It was feared that so many participants would have to leave to catch flights that some negotiating teams would not be able to complete sessions, and if the exodus continued, the conference of the parties might not reach a quorum under the rules of the ‘UN.

A commitment to “phasing out fossil fuels” appeared to be lost after objection from oil-producing countries. The Conference of the Parties (Cop) takes place under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which requires consensus to be reached on all decisions. This means that a small number of countries can hold back progress, to the frustration of the majority.

Fossil fuel lobbyists were out in force at this Cop, with more than 600 people estimated to have attended. Next year’s COP will take place in the oil-producing United Arab Emirates, which many campaigners fear will mean an even bigger role for oil dealers.

Obtaining a commitment to a loss and damage fund is just the beginning. Andres Mogro, financial negotiator for the G77 developing country bloc and China, told the Observer“We hope that when [the fund] becomes operational, it can reflect the level of urgency and the needs of developing countries. Much responsibility is now in the hands of the committee that will design the fund.

Discussions on the committee, said one delegate, would begin “a day after the cop.”


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