COP27 delivers progress on climate funding at the cost of progress on emissions

COP27 delivers progress on climate funding at the cost of progress on emissions
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  • The COP27 climate summit concludes after a marathon weekend of talks
  • The final agreement provides for the creation of a historic climate finance fund
  • Negotiators say some of the stricter emissions targets are blocked

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt, Nov 20 (Reuters) – Countries closed this year’s U.N. climate summit on Sunday with a hard-fought agreement to create a fund to help poor countries hit by climate disasters, even as many lamented its lack of ambition. did Their cause is to deal with emissions.

The agreement was widely hailed as a victory for responding to the devastating effects global warming is having on already vulnerable countries. But many countries said they felt pressured to abandon tough commitments to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to reach a landmark deal to pass on damages and damage funding.

Delegates – exhausted after intense, overnight talks – agreed with Egypt’s COP27 president Sameh Shoukry as he rattled through the final agenda items, making no objections.

Despite no agreement on a strong commitment to the 1.5 C target set in the 2015 Paris Agreement, “we are sticking to what the agreement was here because we want to stand with the most vulnerable,” Germany’s climate secretary Jennifer Morgan, visibly shaken, told Reuters.

When asked by Reuters whether the deal had compromised strong climate-fighting ambitions, Mexico’s chief climate negotiator Camila Zepeda summed up the mood among exhausted negotiators.

“Perhaps. Win when you can.”

loss and damage

The damage and loss fund agreement marked a diplomatic coup for small islands and other vulnerable nations to win over the 27-nation European Union and the United States, which have long resisted the idea for fear that such funding could open them up to legal recourse. Historical emissions liability.

These concerns were fueled by language in the agreement that called for funding to come from a variety of existing sources, including financial institutions, rather than relying on rich countries to pay.

The Marshall Islands’ climate envoy said he was “worn out” but happy with the fund’s approval. “We’ve had a lot of people tell us this week that we’re not going to get it,” Kathy Jetneil-Kijner said. “So glad they were wrong.”

But while it may be years before the fund exists, the agreement sets out only a roadmap for solving lingering questions including who will oversee the fun, how the money will be dispersed — and to whom.

US special climate envoy John Kerry, who was not personally present at the weekend talks after testing positive for COVID-19, on Sunday welcomed the deal “to put measures in place to respond to the devastating effects of climate change on vulnerable communities around the world”.

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

Fossil fuels fizzle

The value placed on an agreement to fund damages and losses was most evident in the language of reducing emissions and reducing the use of polluting fossil fuels – known as “mitigation” in the parlance of the UN climate talks.

Last year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, focused on a theme of keeping the 1.5C target alive – as scientists warn that warming beyond this threshold will exacerbate climate change.

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

While praising the agreement on damages and losses, many countries have condemned COP27’s failure to push further on mitigation and said some countries are trying to roll back commitments made in the Glasgow climate accord.

“We had to fight relentlessly to hold the Glasgow line,” a visibly disappointed Alok Sharma, the architect of the Glasgow Agreement, told the summit.

He listed a number of ambition-busting measures hampering negotiations for the final COP27 deal in Egypt: “The science tells us to peak emissions before 2025? Not in this text. A clean follow-through on coal? Not in this text. Phasing out all fossil fuels. An express promise? Not in this text.”

On fossil fuels, the text of the COP27 agreement largely repeats the Glasgow wording, calling on parties to accelerate “efforts to phase out unsustainable coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”.

Efforts to include a commitment to phase out or at least phase down all fossil fuels failed.

A separate “mitigation work program” deal, also approved on Sunday, contains several clauses that some parties, including the European Union, feel have weakened commitment to more ambitious emissions-cutting targets.

Critics point to a section they say undermines Glasgow’s commitment to regularly renew emissions targets – language that says the work program “will not impose new targets or targets”. Another part of the COP27 agreement ditched the idea of ​​annual target renewals in favor of returning to the longer five-year cycle set out in the Paris Agreement.

“It is more than disappointing to see the phase-out of mitigation measures and the fossil energy phase-out by many big emitters and oil producers stonewalled,” said German Foreign Minister Annalena Bierbock.

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 leads to both carbon dioxide and methane emissions.

“It doesn’t break completely with Glasgow, but it doesn’t raise ambitions at all,” Norway’s climate minister Espen Barth told reporters at Birth Aid.

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

I acknowledge the progress we made at COP27 with the Damages and Damages Fund, Aminath Shauna told the plenary. But “we’ve failed on mitigation… we need to make sure we raise the peak emissions ambition by 2025. We need to phase out fossil fuels.”

Reporting by Valerie Volcovici, Dominic Evans and William James; Written by Katie Daigle

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