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2 weeks into COP27, Canada part of progress on loss and damage funding

It has been almost two weeks since the Canadian team of negotiators arrived in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, for COP27, the UN climate change conference. What did Canada achieve at the conference as delegates enter the final stretch of negotiations on various texts and communiqués?

Dubbed the “African COP”, this has become a forum for countries across the Global South – countries that have generally not been the largest historical emitters of greenhouse gases, but will bear the brunt of the climate crisis – to present their demands.

Chief among these is funding for loss and damage – the inevitable economic, cultural and human losses countries will suffer when natural disasters wreak havoc on their communities and rising seas engulf their coastlines.

Observers listen to the closing plenary session at COP27 on November 17. (Nariman El-Mofty/The Associated Press)

Loss and damage support, but no fund yet

Heading into COP27, Canada stepped up its support for adding loss and damage to the conference’s official agenda — a major win for fragile countries that have been asking for funding for decades.

The Alliance of Small Island States, a group of low-lying and island nations, has proposed a multilateral fund organized under the UN climate treaty to be established later this year. But the announcement of such a fund has proved elusive.

Several wealthy countries have made individual pledges for loss and damage, including Germany, Ireland, New Zealand and more. But the largest economy, the US, is remarkably quiet. US President Joe Biden’s speech at COP27 last week made no mention of loss and damage at all.

“Canada needs to look to other progressive countries within the European Union, other countries like New Zealand, showing a willingness to really respond to the calls of climate sensitive countries,” said Eddy Pérez, international climate diplomacy manager at advocacy group Climate Action Network Canada.

Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s Environment Minister, speaking at COP27. (Peter Dejong/The Associated Press)

Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s environment minister, said he wants to see an agreement on loss and damage at the conference.

“There is, I can imagine, frustration and great impatience on the part of the developing world because they have been trying to have this conversation for 30 years. And countries like ours, and many other developed countries have refused to have that conversation,” Guilbeault said during a chat hosted by Climate Action Network Canada at the conference venue in Sharm el-Sheikh.

“But that has changed this year.”

Canada joins the Global Shield program

Canada has pledged money for another program that will address loss and damage. Global shieldwhich is led by Germany and was officially launched at this COP, will provide a form of insurance to vulnerable countries facing climate catastrophes.

Canada will provide $7 million to Global Shield, from the pre-existing $5.3 billion climate finance commitment.

“We’re starting a loss and damage response here with that tool. I think that’s valuable,” said David Ryfisch, team leader for international climate policy at Germanwatch, a nongovernmental climate research and advocacy group in Germany.

“However, what is critically important is that this is just one element of a suite of instruments that we will have to see in terms of loss and damage.”

Ryfisch acknowledged that the roughly $200 million pledged to Global Shield from Germany and countries around the world was a drop in the ocean compared to the billions that will eventually be needed.

Global Shield also focuses on immediate recovery from disasters, not more slow-onset climate events or non-economic losses such as loss of life.

“It can’t respond to all the nuances of loss and damage,” Ryfisch said.

“But it’s a start.”

The geography of Pakistan’s rural district of Sehwan, in the hard-hit province of Sindh, has changed. Beneath the floodwaters lies farmland with crops that will now never be harvested, and livestock have drowned. UN officials estimate that more than a million cattle, goats and other livestock were lost to the floods. (Stephanie Jenzer/CBC)

Although described as insurance, the program is aimed at creating a pool of money from various donor countries that can be deployed quickly after a climate disaster. The program will also help vulnerable countries pause their debt payments after a disaster so they can reallocate those resources for recovery.

Seven “pathfinder” countries have been selected as the first recipients of the Global Shield program. They include countries like low-lying Bangladesh, island nations like the Philippines and Fiji, and most notably Pakistan, which this year experienced devastating floods that submerged a third of its landmass.

The idea behind Global Shield is that insurance – unlike sometimes slow humanitarian aid – can be distributed quickly after a disaster. People and countries affected by climate events quickly receive funding to maintain their businesses and rebuild infrastructure, and can avoid going into debt or losing their livelihoods in the immediate aftermath of disasters.

Getting closer to cutting methane

Canada also announced A frame for new methane regulations to reduce emissions of the oil and gas industry’s powerful greenhouse gas.

Methane is about 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide and is responsible for a quarter of the global warming observed to date. Tackling methane emissions is seen as essential to the fight against climate change.

Canada’s goal, announced last year, is to reduce methane emissions by 75 percent from 2012 levels by 2030. The new framework is now open for public consultation and draft regulations are expected next year.

Methane leaks from the various appliances and oil and gas sites, and mitigating those leaks involves a combination of monitoring and repair equipment, looking for leaks, and capturing the gas before it escapes.

A flare to burn oil production methane is seen on a well near Watford City, North Dakota, August 26, 2021. Under stricter proposed methane regulations, Canada wants to minimize the use of flaring to burn the potent greenhouse gas. (Matthew Brown/The Associated Press)

Laying the foundations for a biodiversity agreement

Shortly after COP27, Canada will host the COP15 conference on the Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal

This year’s conference is seen as a pivotal moment to reach a groundbreaking agreement on the protection of nature around the world, which is closely linked to mitigating the impacts of climate change.

Steven Guilbeault, Canada’s environment minister, said COP15 “must reach a deal as ambitious and comprehensive as the deal that was reached for the Paris climate,” referring to the 2015 Paris agreement to reduce global warming. soil to well below 2°C and ideally 1.5°C.

COP15 runs from December 7 to December 19.

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