COP27 delivers climate fund breakthrough at cost of progress on emissions

  • The COP27 climate summit ends after marathon weekend negotiations
  • The final agreement provides for the creation of a historic climate finance fund
  • Negotiators say some tighter emissions targets 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 when many lament his lack of ambition. to address the emissions that cause them.

The agreement was widely hailed as a triumph in responding to the devastating impact global warming is already having on vulnerable countries. But many countries have said they feel pressured to abandon tougher commitments to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in order for the landmark agreement on the loss and damage fund to pass.

Delegates – worn out after intense night negotiations – raised no objections as Egypt’s COP27 president, Sameh Shoukry, cleared the final agenda items and signed the agreement.

Despite not having an agreement for a stronger commitment to the 1.5 C target set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement, “we went with what the agreement was there because we want to stay with the most vulnerable,” he said. Jennifer Morgan, Germany’s climate secretary, visibly shaken. Reuters.

Asked by Reuters whether the goal of stronger climate-fighting ambition had been compromised for the deal, Mexico’s climate negotiator, Camila Zepeda, summed up the mood among weary negotiators.

“Probably. Take a win when you can.”


The deal for a loss and damage fund marked a diplomatic coup for small island and other vulnerable nations in a victory for the 27-nation European Union and the United States, which have long resisted the idea out of fear that such a fund could open legality. liability for historical emissions.

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Those concerns were addressed with language in the agreement that called for the funds to come from a variety of existing sources, including financial institutions, rather than relying on rich nations to pay.

The Marshall Islands climate envoy said she was “used” but happy with the fund’s approval. “So many people this week have been telling us we don’t have it,” Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner said. “So glad they were wrong.”

But it will likely be several years before the fund exists, with the agreement establishing only a roadmap to resolve lingering questions, including who would oversee the fund, how the money would be dispersed — and to whom.

US special climate envoy John Kerry, who was not in person at the weekend negotiations after testing positive for COVID-19, on Sunday welcomed the agreement to “establish arrangements to respond to devastating impact of climate change on vulnerable communities around the world.”

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


The price paid for a deal on the basis of losses and damages was most evident in the language around emission reductions and reductions in the use of polluting fossil fuels – known in the language of the UN climate negotiations as “mitigation”.

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Last year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, focused on keeping the 1.5C target alive – as scientists warn that warming beyond that threshold will see climate change spiral into extremes .

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

While praising the loss and damage agreement, many countries denounced the failure of COP27 to push further mitigation and said some countries were trying to renege on commitments made in the Glasgow Climate Pact.

“We’ve had to fight relentlessly to hold the Glasgow line,” a visibly frustrated Alok Sharma, architect of the Glasgow deal, said at the summit.

He lists a series of ambition-boosting measures that have been hammered out in the negotiations for the final COP27 agreement in Egypt: “Emissions peak before 2025 as science tells us is necessary? Not in this text. Follow clear on the reduction phase. of coal? Not in this text. A clear commitment to eliminate all fossil fuels? Not in this text.”

On fossil fuels, the text of the COP27 agreement largely repeats the word from Glasgow, calling on the parties to accelerate “efforts towards the gradual reduction of coal energy without reduction and the gradual elimination of ineffective fuel subsidies fossils”.

Efforts to include a commitment to phase out, or at least gradually decrease, all fossil fuels have been thwarted.

A separate “mitigation work program” agreement, also approved on Sunday, contains several clauses that some parties, including the European Union, feel weaken the commitment to increasingly ambitious emission reduction targets.

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Critics pointed to a section they said undermined Glasgow’s commitment to regularly renewing emissions targets – with language saying the work program “does not impose new targets or goals”. Another section of the COP27 agreement abandoned the idea of ​​annual renewal of targets in favor of returning to a longer cycle of five years established in the Paris agreement.

“It is more than frustrating to see the delayed steps on the mitigation and phasing out of fossil fuels that are being pushed by a number of large emitters and oil producers,” said German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.

The agreement also included a reference to “low-emissions energy,” raising concerns from some that it opened the door to increased use of natural gas — a fossil fuel that leads to 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 Eide told reporters.

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

“I recognize the progress we made in COP27” with the loss and damage fund, Aminath Shauna told the plenary. But “we have failed on mitigation… We must ensure that we increase the ambition to peak emissions by 2025. We must eliminate fossil fuels.”

(This story has been moved to fix a typo in paragraph 10.)

Report by Valerie Volcovici, Dominic Evans and William James; Writing by Katy Daigle

Our standards: Thomson Reuters’ principles of trust.


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