Early Sunday morning, negotiators came to an agreement on what is called a compensation fund.
It will compensate poor countries suffering from extreme weather events such as droughts, floods and heat waves exacerbated by rich countries’ carbon emissions.
It is a deserved victory for climate justice that will benefit countries that have contributed little to the global warming pollution, but who suffer the most.
But a larger and arguably more important agreement to go further in reducing emissions proved too much at this climate summit.
After the decision on the fund was approved, talks were suspended for 30 minutes to allow delegates to read texts of other measures they would vote on.
“This is how a 30-year journey of ours has finally, we hope, paid off today,” said Pakistan’s climate minister Sherry Rehman, who has often led the way for the world’s poorest countries.
A third of her nation was engulfed in a devastating flood this summer, and she and other officials used the motto, “What happened in Pakistan will not stay in Pakistan.”
Outside experts hailed the decision as historic.
“This loss and damage fund will be a lifeline for poor families whose homes have been destroyed, farmers whose fields have been destroyed and islanders who have been driven from their ancestral homes,” said Ani Dasgupta, president of the environmental think tank World Resources Institute, minutes after early morning approval. “This positive outcome of COP27 is an important step towards restoring trust with vulnerable countries.”
It’s a reflection of what can be done if the poorest nations stay united, said Alex Scott, a climate diplomacy expert at the E3G think tank.
“I think this is huge that governments are coming together to work out at least the first step of … how to deal with the problem of loss and damage,” Scott said.
But as with all climate finance, it’s one thing to create a fund, it’s another to keep money flowing in and out, she said. The developed world has still not lived up to its 2009 pledge to spend $100 billion a year on other climate aid – designed to help poor countries develop green energy and adapt to future warming.
The agreement “offers hope to the vulnerable that they will receive help to recover from climate disasters and rebuild their lives,” said Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy at Climate Action Network International.
“Loss and damage is a way of acknowledging past damage and offsetting that past damage,” said Dartmouth climate scientist Justin Mankin, who calculated the dollar amounts for each country’s warming. “This damage is scientifically identifiable.”
“In many ways, we’re talking about reparations,” said Sacoby Wilson, a professor of environmental health and justice at the University of Maryland. “It’s an appropriate term to use,” he said, because the wealthy northern countries have the benefits of fossil fuels, while the poorer south suffers from floods, droughts, climate refugees and hunger.
The Egyptian presidency, criticized by all sides, proposed a new loss and damages deal on Saturday afternoon and an agreement was reached within hours, but Norway’s negotiator said it was not so much the Egyptians, but other countries working together.
German climate envoy Jennifer Morgan and Chilean environment minister Maisa Rojas, who led the deal on the agenda and to the finish, hugged after passage, posed for a photo and said, “Yes, we made it!”
Under the agreement, the fund would initially draw on contributions from developed countries and other private and public sources such as international financial institutions.
While major emerging economies such as China would initially not be required to contribute, that option remains on the table and will be negotiated for years to come. This is an important requirement of the European Union and the United States. They argue that China and other major polluters currently classified as developing countries have the financial clout and responsibility to pay their way.
The fund would largely target the most vulnerable countries, although there would be room for middle-income countries hard hit by climate disasters to receive relief.
Faded, hazy-eyed delegations began filling the plenary hall at 4 a.m. local time on Sunday.
Battle lines were drawn up at the start of the latest session over India’s request to amend last year’s deal calling for a phase-out of “unabated coal” to a phase-out of oil and natural gas, two other fossil fuels that produce heat. capture gases. While European countries and others continue to press for that language, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Nigeria have pushed to keep it out.
“We are on extreme overtime. There was a good mood earlier today. I think more people are more frustrated with the lack of progress,” Norway’s climate change minister Espen Barth Eide told The Associated Press.
“Some of us are trying to say that we should actually keep global warming below 1.5 degrees and that calls for action. For example, we need to reduce our use of fossil fuels,” Eide said. “But there’s a very strong fossil fuel lobby… that tries to block every language we produce. So that’s pretty obvious.”
Both developed and developing countries were deeply concerned about proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, known as mitigation.
Officials said the language put forward by Egypt echoed some of the pledges made at last year’s UN climate conference in Glasgow aimed at keeping alive the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Since the mid-19th century, the world has already warmed by 1.1 degrees Celsius.
Some of the Egyptian language on mitigation seemed to fall back on the 2015 Paris agreement, which was before scientists knew how crucial the 1.5 degree threshold was and there was heavy talk of a weaker 2 degrees Celsius, which is why its scientists and Europeans afraid to go back, said climate scientist Maarten van Aalst of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Center.
Irish Environment Minister Eamon Ryan said: “We need to make a deal on 1.5 degrees. We need strong wording about mitigation and that is what we are going to encourage.”