UN climate talks end with agreement to pay poor nations for damages

At the same time, rising global temperatures have intensified deadly floods in places like Pakistan and Nigeria, as well as record heat in Europe and Asia. In the Horn of Africa, a third year of severe drought has brought millions of people to the brink of starvation.

Much of the attention over the past two weeks has been on loss and damage.

Developing countries – mainly in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and the South Pacific – fought first to put the debate on a fund for loss and damage on the official agenda from the two-week high. And then they were relentless in their pressure campaign, arguing that it was a matter of justice, noting that they had contributed little to a crisis that threatens their existence. They made it clear that a summit held on the African continent that ends without addressing loss and damage would be seen as a moral failure.

As the summit drew to a close, the European Union agreed to the idea of ​​a loss and damage fund, while insisting that any aid should be primarily targeted to the most vulnerable nations, and that assistance could include a wide variety of options such as new insurance programs in addition to direct payments.

That left the United States, which has pumped more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than any country in history, as the last big holdout. On Saturday, as talks dragged into overtime, US officials said they would agree to a loss and damage fund, breaking the deadlock.

Yet major obstacles remain.

There is no guarantee that rich countries will deposit money in the fund. A decade ago, the United States, the European Union and other wealthy emitters pledged to mobilize $100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020 to help the poorest countries transition to climate change. clean energy and to adapt to future climate risks through measures such as the construction of dykes. They are still below tens of billions of dollars per year.

And while US diplomats have agreed to a fund, the money must be appropriated by Congress. Last year, the Biden administration asked for $2.5 billion in climate funding but only got $1 billion, and that’s when Democrats controlled both chambers. With Republicans poised to take power in the House in January, the odds of Congress approving an all-new pot of money for losses and damages appear dim.

“Sending American taxpayers’ money to a UN-sponsored green slush fund is completely wrong,” said Sen. John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming. “The Biden administration should be focused on cutting domestic spending, not sending money to the UN for new climate deals. Innovation, not reparations, is key to fight against climate change.


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