COP27 offers climate finance progress at the cost of emissions progress

  • The COP27 climate summit concludes after a marathon weekend of negotiations
  • The final agreement creates a historic climate finance fund
  • Negotiators say they have avoided some tighter emissions targets

Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Nov. 20 (Reuters) – This year’s U.N. summit is on track to create a fund to help poor countries hit by climate disasters. Nations wrapped up the climate summit on Sunday. in dealing with the emissions that cause them.

The deal was widely hailed as a victory for responding to the devastating impact global warming is having on already vulnerable countries. But many countries have said they will push to abandon tough commitments to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Delegates – exhausted after intensive, overnight negotiations – were exhausted as Egypt’s COP27 President Samae Shogri hammered out the final agenda items and hammered out the deal.

Although there was no agreement on a strong commitment to the 1.5C target set in the 2015 Paris Agreement, “we did what was agreed here because we wanted to stand with the most vulnerable,” said Jennifer Morgan, Germany’s climate secretary. Reuters.

Mexico’s chief climate negotiator Camila Cepeda summed up the mood among weary negotiators when asked by Reuters whether the goal of strong climate-fighting ambitions had been compromised for the deal.

“Probably. Win as much as you can.”

Loss and damage

The agreement on loss and damage funding marked a diplomatic coup for small islands and other vulnerable nations in winning over the 27-nation European Union and the United States. Liability for historical emissions.

Those concerns were addressed by language in the agreement requiring funding to come from a variety of existing sources, including financial institutions, rather than relying on rich countries to pay.

The Marshall Islands’ climate ambassador said he was “worn out” but delighted by the fund’s approval. “A lot of people have been telling us all week, we’re not going to get it,” Kathy Jetnill-Kijner said. “So glad they were wrong.”

But it could be years before the fund is in place, and the agreement only sets out a blueprint for resolving lingering questions, including who will oversee the fund, how the money will be distributed — and to whom.

US special climate envoy John Kerry, who was absent from the weekend talks in person after testing positive for COVID-19, welcomed the agreement on Sunday to “establish arrangements to respond to the catastrophic impact of climate change on vulnerable communities around the world”.

In a statement, he said he would continue to press big emitters like China to “significantly improve their ambition” in keeping the 1.5 C target alive.

Fossil fuel fission

The price paid for the agreement to finance loss and damage was to reduce emissions and reduce the use of polluting fossil fuels – known as “mitigation” in the parlance of the UN climate talks.

Last year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, focused on the theme of keeping the 1.5C target alive – a threshold scientists warn will see warming extremes change.

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

While praising the Loss and Damages Agreement, many countries have condemned COP27’s failure to push mitigation further, and some have said they are trying to roll back commitments made in the Glasgow Climate Agreement.

Alok Sharma, architect of the Glasgow Agreement, lamented at the summit that “we had to fight non-stop to hold the Glasgow line”.

He listed a number of ambition-boosting measures that stalled negotiations for the final COP27 agreement in Egypt: “Does the science say it’s necessary to peak emissions before 2025? Not in this text. Clearly follow the steps below. Coal?

On fossil fuels, the COP27 agreement text largely repeats Glasgow’s words, calling on parties to accelerate “efforts to phase out unmitigated coal power and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”.

Efforts to include a commitment to phase out all fossil fuels, or at least gradually reduce them.

A separate “mitigation work plan” deal approved on Sunday contained several clauses that some parties, including the European Union, felt weakened commitment to even more ambitious emissions reduction targets.

Critics pointed to a clause that undermined Glasgow’s commitment to regularly update emissions targets – language saying the work plan would “impose no new goals or targets”. Another section of the COP27 agreement abandoned the idea of ​​annual target renewal in favor of returning to the longer five-year cycle set out in the Paris Agreement.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbach said it was “more than disappointing to see delayed steps on mitigation and the phase-out of fossil fuels being stonewalled by many large emitters and oil producers”.

The deal also included a reference to “low-emissions energy,” which raised concerns among some that it opened the door to the growing 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 the ambition,” Norway’s climate minister Espen Barth told reporters.

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

“I recognize the progress we have made in COP 27”, with the loss and damage fund, Aminat Shouna told the plenary. But “we have failed to mitigate… we need to ensure we increase our ambition for peak emissions by 2025. We need to phase out fossil fuels.”

(This story has been reprinted to correct a typo in paragraph 10.)

Reporting by Valerie Wolkovici, Dominic Evans and William James; Written by Katy Daigle

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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