Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
Delegates at the COP27 United Nations climate summit agreed on a provision to establish a damage and loss fund in a landmark deal in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on Sunday morning.
However, the delegation stopped short of passing the full draft of the agreement, as Swiss members asked for more time to review the full document, which was released minutes before the final plenary began.
The summit is currently temporarily suspended for 30 minutes while members review the text.
This is an important story and will be updated.
For the second year in a row, the marathon talks dragged on beyond their scheduled conclusion, as countries tried to speak stronger language about phasing out all fossil fuels, including oil and gas, according to several NGOs observing the talks. of
Elsewhere, progress has been made. On Saturday, the parties reached a tentative agreement to establish a “loss and damage” fund for nations at risk of climate disasters, according to negotiators with the European Union and Africa, as well as non-governmental organizations observing the talks. reached.
Whitney Smith, a spokeswoman for US climate envoy John Kerry, confirmed to CNN that the US is also working to sign an agreement on a damage and loss fund.
A senior Biden administration official told CNN that the fund will focus on what can be done to address damage and resource loss, but does not include liability or compensation provisions. The United States and other developed countries have long sought to avoid provisions that could open them to legal liability and litigation from other countries.
If finalized, it could represent a major breakthrough in negotiations on a contentious topic – and is seen as a reversal, from past US efforts to create such a fund. opposed.
All is not settled yet – an EU source directly involved in the negotiations warned earlier in the week that the deal is part of the larger COP27 agreement that has to be ratified by around 200 countries. Negotiators worked through the night into Sunday. Other issues remain, including the fossil fuel language, according to several NGOs observing the talks.
Sources said that progress has been made. In a debate on Saturday afternoon Egypt time, the EU managed to get the G77 bloc of countries to agree to target the fund to vulnerable countries, paving the way for a deal on damage and loss.
If finalized, the deal would represent a major international breakthrough and exceed expectations for this year’s climate summit, and the mood among some delegates was upbeat.
Countries that are most vulnerable to climate disasters – yet those that have contributed little to the climate crisis – have struggled for years to fund damage and loss.
Developed nations that have historically produced most of the planet’s warming emissions are reluctant to sign on to a fund that they feel could open them up to legal liability for climate disasters.
Details of how the fund will operate remain murky. Climate experts told reporters on Saturday that the tentative text said a fund would be established this year, but it left many questions about when it would be finalized and when it would become operational. The text talks about an interim committee that will help hammer out those details, but doesn’t set a future deadline.
“There is no guarantee of a timeline,” World Resources Institute Africa resilience director Nisha Krishnan told reporters.
Lawyers for the Loss and Damages Fund were pleased with the progress, but noted that the draft is not ideal.
“We’re happy with this result because it’s what developed countries wanted — even though they weren’t here for everything,” Erin Roberts, founder of the Harm and Harm Collaboration, told CNN in a statement. “Like many people, I have been conditioned to expect very little from this process. While the creation of the fund is certainly a win for developing countries and those on the front lines of climate change, this finance is an empty shell without . It’s too little, too late for those on the front lines of climate change. But we’ll work on it.”
Calls for a loss and damage fund at COP27 – from developing countries, the G77 bloc and activists – reached a fever pitch in the wake of several major climate disasters this year, including Pakistan’s devastating floods.
The conference went into overtime on Saturday before continuing into the early hours of Sunday morning, with negotiators still working out details as workers hammered out the venue around them. At points, there was a real sense of fatigue and frustration. Complicating matters was the fact that Kerry – the US’s top climate official – has been self-isolating after recently testing positive for Covid, working over the phone rather than face-to-face meetings.
And earlier in the week, EU officials threatened to walk out of the meeting if the final agreement failed to endorse the goal of limiting pre-industrial temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Global scientists have warned for decades that warming must be limited to 1.5 degrees – a limit that is fast approaching as the planet’s average temperature has already reached 1.1 degrees. Beyond 1.5 degrees, the risk of extreme droughts, wildfires, floods and food shortages will increase dramatically, scientists said in the latest report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
At a carefully choreographed news conference on Saturday morning, EU green deal czar Frans Timmermans, who was joined by a full line-up of ministers and other top officials from EU member states, said that “any deal No better than a deal.”
“We don’t want 1.5 Celsius to die here and today. This is completely unacceptable to us,” he said.
The EU made clear it agreed to a damage and loss fund – a major shift in its position from just a week ago – but only in exchange for a firm commitment to the 1.5 degree target.
As the sun set over Sharm el-Sheikh on Saturday evening, the mood turned to cautious jubilation, with groups of negotiators beginning to signal that a deal was in sight.
But, as is always the case with high-level diplomacy, officials stressed that nothing would be truly agreed until the final straw falls.