COP27 Opens, with Climate ‘Loss and Damage’ Funding on the Agenda
COP27, the United Nations climate conference being held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, got underway on Sunday with an agreement to introduce “loss and damage” funding for developing nations as an agenda item for the first time.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry announced the agreement at the opening session of COP27, the 27th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
“Loss and damage” refers to the costs poor countries already face from climate change, including catastrophic floods and rising sea levels. Setting up a loss and damage fund is a top demand of developing countries that bear the largest impacts of climate change despite producing the lowest carbon emissions.
[Rich World Is Pressed to Help Vulnerable Countries Cope with Climate Change]
Wealthy nations have so far resisted efforts to hold them financially responsible for loss and damage caused by global warming. Their climate finance commitments have focused instead on climate adaptation and mitigation efforts, such as projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and switch to renewable energy sources.
Yet even on these they have fallen short. More than a decade ago, rich nations promised to provide $100 billion a year to fight climate change by 2020, but they are now not expected to reach that target until 2023.
Getting developed countries to fulfill previous climate finance commitments is one of the main goals of this year’s conference agenda. That is because about 10 developed countries, led by China, the United States, and the European Union, release more than two-thirds (68 percent) of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, compared to only 3 percent of emissions from 100 other countries. However, vulnerable countries bear the largest consequences of the effects of climate change.
Getting Loss and Damage on the Agenda
In a statement issued by the United Nations a few days ago, a negotiating bloc known as the “Group of 77 and China”, which includes most developing countries, requested adding the issue of loss and damage to the agenda for COP27.
Shoukry, the Egyptian foreign minister who was elected president of COP27 at the conference’s opening session on Sunday, said that climate change risks impede development efforts and affect the future of generations.
In a news conference, Shoukry said the agreement to adopt loss and damage as an agenda item came after months of preliminary work and two days of intense discussions just before the summit opened.
Also speaking on Sunday, Simon Stiell, the executive secretary of UN Climate Change, said that geopolitical tensions have exacerbated the climate change crisis and that the summit must focus on the implementation of previously agreed plans.
“The focus must be on a just transition to a low-carbon economy,” he said at a news conference. “Recent reports have shown that carbon emissions have not decreased in accordance with the ambitions set by the 2015 Paris Agreement for Climate Action, so work must be done so that the increase in global temperature does not exceed 1.5 degree Celsius.”
Stiell added that vulnerable and less developed countries must receive support to address the effects of climate change, since financing is key to achieving this. Transparency must be enhanced to investigate the effects of climate action, he said.
Moving from Pledges to Action
In a statement, the Egyptian administration of the conference said that countries must move in an equitable manner from pledges and promises to purposeful action. The current geopolitical challenges should not impede climate action, especially with the multiplication of energy and food crises, said the statement.
It added that the needs of developing countries and the achievement of climate justice must be taken into account since the countries least responsible for emissions are the most affected by climate change.
In general, this year’s conference is concerned with discussing four main issues: enhancing climate financing, mitigating carbon emissions, supporting adaptation efforts, and discussing partnerships that support climate action.
The Egyptian organisers divided the discussions on climate issues into thematic days, starting on November 9. Topics include finance, energy, biodiversity, food systems, the impact of climate change on gender, and climate solutions, besides dedicating days for youth, science and civil society.
More than 50,000 people have registered to attend the conference’s panels, round tables, and side events.
Egypt has taken environmentally friendly measures in hosting the conference, including providing water in glass and cardboard containers as an alternative to harmful plastic bottles. The authorities are also enforcing a ban on single-use plastic bags in Sharm el-Sheikh, replacing them with paper and cloth bags.
Bins placed throughout the conference area encourage guests to separate waste for collection and recycling, and electric buses are running around the city to shuttle participants to conference venues.
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Read more about COP27 and climate change in Climate and Environment, an archive of Al-Fanar Media’s reporting on these topics.
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