COP27 sets up fund for climate loss and damage

SHARM EL-SHEIKH: A fraught UN climate summit wrapped up Sunday with a landmark deal on funding to help vulnerable countries cope with devastating impacts of global warming — but also anger over failure to push further ambition on cutting emissions.

The two-week talks in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, which at times appeared to teeter on the brink of collapse, delivered a major breakthrough on a fund for climate “loss and damage”.

A final COP27 statement covering the broad array of efforts to grapple with a warming planet held the line on the aspirational goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels.

It also included language on renewable energy for the first time, while reiterating previous calls to accelerate “efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”. But that failed to go much further than a similar decision from last year’s COP26 meeting in Glasgow on key issues around cutting planet-heating pollution.

With around 1.2C of warming so far, the world has seen a cascade of climate-driven extremes, shining a spotlight on the plight of developing countries faced with escalating disasters, as well as an energy and food price crisis and ballooning debt.

The fund will be geared towards developing nations “that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change” — language that had been requested by the EU. As many as 134 countries of the world will get benefit from the fund.

The final loss and damage text left many of the thornier questions to be dealt with by a transitional committee, which will report to next year’s climate meeting in Dubai to get the funding operational.

The fund will focus on what can be done now to support loss and damage resources but the agreement does not provide for liability or compensation, said a US State Department spokesperson.

Scientists say limiting warming to 1.5C is a far safer guardrail against catastrophic climate impacts, with the world currently way off track and heading for around 2.5C under current commitments and plans. “The historic outcome on loss and damage at COP27 shows international cooperation is possible,” said Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and Chair of The Elders.

“Equally, the renewed commitment on the 1.5C global warming limit was a source of relief. However, none of this changes the fact that the world remains on the brink of climate catastrophe.”

Billed as the “African COP,” the summit in Egypt had promised to highlight the plight of poor countries facing the most severe consequences from global warming caused mainly by wealthy, industrialised nations.

The “loss and damage” inflicted by climate-induced disasters was not even officially up for discussion when UN talks in Egypt began.

But a concerted effort among developing countries to make it the defining issue of the conference melted the resistance of wealthy polluters long fearful of open-ended liability and gathered unstoppable momentum as the talks progressed.

“At the beginning of these talks loss and damage was not even on the agenda and now we are making history,” said Mohamed Adow, executive director of Power Shift Africa.

“It just shows that this UN process can achieve results and that the world can recognise the plight of the vulnerable must not be treated as a political football.”

Loss and damage covers a broad sweep of climate impacts, from bridges and homes washed away in flash flooding, to the threatened disappearance of cultures and whole islands to the creeping rise of sea levels.

This year an onslaught of climate-induced disasters — from catastrophic floods in Pakistan to severe drought-threatening famine in Somalia — sharpened the focus on disaster-hit countries, which were already struggling with soaring inflation and mounting debts.

The Fund would lead to the provision of assistance to the countries impacted by climate change.

It will also support Pakistan in the rehabilitation of flood-affected people and reconstruction of the damaged infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, while appreciating the establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund at the UN climate summit, said it was the first pivotal step towards the goal of climate justice.

“I appreciate (Minister for Climate Change) Sherry Rehman and her team for their contribution and hard work,” the prime minister remarked.

The prime minister, along with his cabinet members, including Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Climate Change Minister Senator Sherry Rehman, had raised the voice for climate justice at the regional and global levels.

According to a PM Office statement, COP27 made history by taking a practical step comparing the Paris Accord and Green Marshal Plan. The COP27 summit was recently held on November 7-8 also participated by the prime minister at the invitation of Egyptian president.

He had also co-chaired a round-table conference on loss and damage and his address to the session also mainly focused on climate change-induced disaster and the measures to mitigate the losses. The prime minister emphasised the establishment of Loss and Damage Fund to provide climate justice to the affected countries.

Following the agreement on the establishment of the Fund, Sherry Rehman said, “It has been a long 30-year journey from demand to the formation of the Loss & Damage Fund for 134 countries” and called it an important first step in reaffirming the core principles of climate justice.

“This is not about accepting charity,” she said.

“This is a down payment on investment in our futures, and in climate justice,” she remarked.

In a series of tweets, Federal Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman said it’s been a long 30-year journey from demand to the formation of the loss and damage Fund for 134 countries.

“We welcome today’s announcement and joint text hammered out thru many nights. It’s an important first step in reaffirming the core principles of climate justice,” the minister said.

Pakistan and other climate-vulnerable countries — at the COP27 —had demanded the international community to take steps to mobilise “loss and damage” funds for disaster-hit nations, and some say rich nations must pay these costs because their historical emissions are mostly responsible for global warming.

Rehman noted now that the fund has been established, Pakistan looks forward to it being operationalised and becoming a robust body that can answer with agility to the needs of vulnerable, the fragile and those on the frontline of climate disasters.

The minister said the announcement offers hope to vulnerable communities all over the world, which are fighting for their survival from climate stress.

It also, she noted, gives some credibility to the COP process, and now it’s up to the transitional committee to move it forward by December 2023 as decided.

Pakistan — the world’s fifth largest population — is responsible for only 0.8 percent of global greenhouse emissions but is one of the countries most vulnerable to extreme weather caused by global warming.

According to a statement issued by Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch on Twitter, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari championed the cause of loss and damage for developing countries vulnerable to climate change which was endorsed by G77 China meeting of FMs in NY chaired by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

This is a major win for Pakistan and all of the developing world, FM Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, on agreement to establish Loss and Damage Fund at COP27, said.

Meanwhile, separately in a statement issued on Twitter on Sunday, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that in monumental achievement for climate justice & G77 led by Pakistan at COP27 has successfully concluded with loss and damage as part of the agenda, including a fund and financial arrangements to address this issue.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that he congratulates Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Hassan Shoukry, President COP27P for hosting a historic COP. Bilawal Bhutto said, “Having experienced first-hand the scale and devastation of Pakistan floods, we travelled to the United Nations General Assembly to advocate for climate justice. When I chaired Group of 77 at the UN, Pakistan’s proposal was unanimously adopted to demand loss and damage be part of COP77 agenda,” he said.

FM Bilawal said, “In Egypt, we were happy to report that Pakistan’s proposal as chair G77 to include language on loss and damage on the agenda had achieved consensus. Upon conclusion of negotiations, we’ve sustained that consensus and also included necessary language on fund and financial arrangement.”

Bilawal said that he spoke to Special Presidential Climate Envoy John Kerry both in Egypt and over the phone once negotiations went into overtime and appreciated leadership on climate, requested support for G77 demand on inclusion of financial arrangement to tackle loss and damage. “Grateful, we were able to reach a compromise,” he said.

“FM Bilawal said sincerest gratitude to all members of G77 and China for their continued support and trust in Pakistan’s leadership. A special shout out to Team Pakistan at COP27. Team MOFA and Climate led by Senator Sherry Rehman under able prime ministership of Shehbaz Sharif has delivered major win on world stage.”

In a statement, the Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said Pakistan welcomed the establishment of a fund to address loss and damage caused by climate-induced disasters.

“The consensus decision taken to this effect by the COP27 in Sharm-El-Sheikh (Egypt) is a momentous achievement, especially for the Group of 77 and China, as the developing countries have been demanding such a fund for the past 30 years,” she said.

The catastrophic climate change-induced floods in Pakistan early this year refocused global attention towards this critical issue, the spokesperson mentioned.

She said that Pakistan, as chair of the Group of 77 and China, galvanised support for the establishment of the Fund in COP27 in Sharm el Sheikh, first by having it placed on the agenda of the conference, and then pushing for a consensus agreement.

The dedicated “Fund for Loss and Damage” will address losses and damages in developing countries, such as Pakistan, which are particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of Climate Change, she said.

The spokesperson congratulated the developing countries for their exemplary solidarity and steadfastness in pushing their case for a Fund for loss and damage.

“We also appreciate the understanding and cooperation of the developed countries in recognising the urgency to act on loss and damage.”

The spokesperson also appreciated the Egyptian Presidency of COP27, especially Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, as well as UNFCCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell, for this historic breakthrough.

“We look forward to early operationalisation of the fund, with the hope that the Fund would bridge a major gap in the climate finance architecture.”

“As part of its climate diplomacy — given that we are one of the most climate-vulnerable countries — Pakistan would continue to constructively contribute to global climate change debate, negotiations and action.”

Related posts