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COP27 delivers historic ‘loss and damage’ fund for vulnerable nations

COP27 delivers historic ‘loss and damage’ fund for vulnerable nations
November 20
18:18 2022

A fund has finally been established for loss and damage – climate change impacts that are irreparable – to aid the recovery of vulnerable countries adversely affected by climate disasters.

The fund was agreed upon by over 190 countries at the closing plenary of the 27th UN climate change conference (COP27) on Saturday.

The conference which began on November 6 was meant to close on November 18 but it extended into the weekend following a series of unresolved issues including the establishment of the loss and damage fund.

For over 24 hours after the official close of the conference, negotiations continued as parties disagreed on different aspects of the draft text.

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WHAT TRANSPIRED? 

Despite making it to the agenda on the first day of the conference, the willingness to agree on a loss and damage fund by parties seemed unattainable. China and G77 countries were adamant in their demand that the fund be set up at COP27.

Eventually, the European Union agreed to pay, but on the condition that China must also commit to paying, seeing as the Asian nation is one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gas and has developed beyond the 1990s when it was categorised as a developing nation.

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But China objected to paying and these contentions further pushed the possibility of a compromise out of sight, with delegates leaving the COP27 venue disappointed that the conference had not achieved its goals.

Vanessa Nakate, a climate justice activist from Uganda, had said: “COP27 was meant to be the ‘African COP’ but the needs of African people have been obstructed throughout. Loss and damage in vulnerable countries is now unignorable, but some developed countries here in Egypt have decided to ignore our suffering.”

Nnimmo Bassey, director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and coordinator of Oilwatch International, described the COP as a “sham”.

VICTORY AT LAST 

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But in an unexpected twist on Saturday, November 19, countries agreed to the fund on the grounds that it will be geared towards supporting “developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change”.

The fund had earlier been targeted at “vulnerable countries” which usually applies to the poorest countries and small island states. But on Saturday, Frans Timmermans, EU’s climate chief, said the term should extend to middle-income countries like Pakistan.

All parties agreed that the fund will be part of broader funding arrangements whose sources will include funding outside the UN climate change process, such as insurance, donor contribution, oil and gas tax, and debt relief.

Parties also agreed to operationalise the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage in order to rally technical assistance, knowledge, and resources needed by vulnerable developing countries to address climate risks.

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They also reaffirmed their commitment to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels with strengthened action to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

A jubilant Sameh Shoukry, COP27 president, said history had been made, saying “it was only appropriate that this COP, the implementation COP in Africa, is where the fund is finally established”.

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“Millions around the globe can now sense a glimmer of hope that their suffering will finally be addressed, swiftly and appropriately,” he added.

“This was not easy. We worked around the clock. Long days and nights. Strained and sometimes tense, but united and working for one aim, one higher purpose, one common goal that we all subscribe to and aspire to achieve. In the end, we delivered.”

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Simon Stiell, UN climate change executive secretary, said: “This outcome moves us forward. We have determined a way forward over how we address the impacts on communities whose lives and livelihoods have been ruined by the very worst impacts of climate change.”

Meanwhile, several countries have already made financial commitments to the fund including Denmark, Scotland, Germany Austria, Belgium, Canada, France and New Zealand.

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This story is published in partnership with Report for the World, a global service program that supports local public interest journalism.

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