For the first time, the nations of the world have decided to pay for the damage that overheating is doing to poor countries, but they ended the marathon climate talks on Sunday without further addressing the root cause of these disasters – the burning of fossil fuels.
The deal, struck with a gavel at dawn in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, establishes a fund for what negotiators call losses and damages.
It’s a big win for poorer nations, who have long demanded cash — sometimes seen as redress — because they often fall victim to climate-aggravated floods, droughts, heat waves, famines and storms, even though they’ve contributed little to the country’s growing pollution Globe.
It has also long been cited as a matter of justice for nations hit by extreme weather and for small island nations facing an existential threat from rising seas.
“Three long decades and we’ve finally delivered climate justice,” said Seve Paeniu, Tuvalu’s finance minister. “We have finally responded to the call from hundreds of millions of people around the world to help them cope with loss and damage.”
Pakistan’s Environment Minister Sherry Rehman said setting up the fund “is not about handing out handouts”.
“It’s clearly a down payment on the longer-term investments in our common future,” she said, speaking for a coalition of the world’s poorest nations.
Molwyn Joseph of Antigua and Barbuda, chairman of the Organization of Small Island States, called the agreement “a win for our whole world”.
“We have shown those who have felt neglected that we hear you, we see you and give you the respect and care you deserve,” he said.
The deal followed a chicken game on climate change over fossil fuels.
What we have before us is not a step forward for people and planetFrans Timmermans
Early Sunday morning, delegates approved the compensation fund but had not addressed the contentious issues of an overall temperature target, emissions reductions and a desire to target all fossil fuels for phase-out. Until the wee hours of the morning, the European Union and other nations fought back what they saw as a step backwards in the Egyptian Presidency’s overarching coverage agreement, threatening to derail the rest of the process.
The package was revised again, removing most of the elements that the Europeans had objected to, but none of the heightened ambition they had hoped for.
“What we have before us is not a step forward for people and the planet,” a disappointed Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Union, told his negotiating partners. “It’s not bringing enough additional effort for the big emitters to scale up and accelerate their emissions cuts.
“We failed in all measures to prevent and minimize loss and damage,” Mr Timmermans said. “We should have done a lot more”
Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock was also frustrated.
“It is beyond frustrating to see overdue steps to mitigate and phase out fossil fuels being blocked by a number of large emitters and oil producers,” she said.
The agreement contains a veiled reference to the benefits of natural gas as a low-emission energy, even as many nations call for a phasing out of natural gas, which contributes to climate change.
While the new deal doesn’t make calls for a reduction in emissions louder, it keeps the language alive to keep the global goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) alive.
The Egyptian Presidency kept making proposals that harked back to the 2015 Paris language, which also mentioned a looser target of 2 degrees. The world has already warmed by 1.1 degrees (2 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times.
The deal also doesn’t address last year’s call to phase out global use of “unabated coal,” despite pushes from India and other countries to include oil and natural gas in Glasgow language. This, too, was the subject of a last-minute debate, which angered Europeans in particular.
The president of last year’s climate talks chastised the summit leadership for frustrating efforts to do more to cut emissions with a forceful listing of what wasn’t being done.
“Clear implementation of the coal phase-out. Not in this text. A clear commitment to phase out all fossil fuels. Not in this text. And the energy text has been fading in the last few minutes,” said Brit Alok Sharma.
And in his remarks to negotiators, Grenada-born UN climate chief Simon Stiell called on the world to “say goodbye to fossil fuels, including coal, oil and gas”.
However, this fight was overshadowed by the historic compensation fund.
“In the midst of eclipse and doom, there is much to celebrate,” said climate scientist Maarten van Aalst of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Climate Center, which responds to climate disasters.
Talks next year will also include further negotiations to work out details of the new Loss and Damage Fund and review the world’s efforts to meet the Paris Agreement goals, which scientists say are falling out of reach.
According to the agreement, the fund would initially draw on contributions from developed countries and other private and public sources such as international financial institutions.
While large emerging economies like China would not automatically have to contribute, that option remains on the table. This is a key demand from the European Union and the United States, which argue that China and other big polluters currently classified as developing countries have the financial clout and responsibility to go their way.
The fund would largely target the most vulnerable nations, although there would be room for middle-income countries hard hit by climate-related disasters to get help.
Martin Kaiser, head of Greenpeace Germany, described the settlement of claims as a “small band-aid on a large, gaping wound”.
“It is a scandal that the Egyptian cop presidency has given petrostates like Saudi Arabia space to torpedo effective climate protection,” he said.
Many climate activists are concerned that it will be even more difficult to push for decisive action to end fossil fuel use at next year’s meeting, which will be held in Dubai in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/historic-compensation-fund-approved-at-un-climate-talks-42158410.html Historic compensation fund approved at UN climate talks