Photo source: Daily News Egypt - Photo: 2022

Done Deal on Loss and Damage but More Work on Cutting Emissions

By Busani Bafana

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (IDN) — Developing countries hard hit by climate change are set to get funds to help them deal with climate disasters after delegates to COP27 agreed to establish a long-sought Loss and Damage Fund but made little progress about cutting carbon emissions responsible for them.

Following around-the-clock negotiations that saw COP being extended by a day, negotiators from 200 countries struck an early morning deal on Sunday to establish a historic loss and damage fund.

While the details of the fund in terms of eligible countries to benefit from the fund will be finalized at the next climate conference (COP28) in the United Arab Emirates in 2023, a transitional committee will oversee the operationalization of the fund.

The Loss and Damage Fund, which for the first time made the COP27 agenda is part of the Sharm El-Sheikh Implementation Plan on climate change. Parties agreed to recommit keeping the 1.5°C target for global temperature alive. The draft deal noted that the impacts of climate change exacerbate the global energy and food crises and vice versa, particularly in developing countries.

Loss and damage is about the destructive impact of climate change that cannot be avoided either by mitigation which is avoiding and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It can also be through adaptation which is adjusting to current and future climate change impacts. It means that climate change is already having negative effects on ecosystems, infrastructure, and people’s health and livelihoods globally.

Loss and damage can be classified into economic and noneconomic losses which can include the loss of biodiversity and cultural heritage through severe weather events such as droughts and floods which are due to climate change. Developing countries have campaigned for the loss and damage fund for the last 30 years since small island countries under the Alliance for Small Island States (AOSIS), pushed for it.

Under Article 8 of the Paris Agreement Parties recognize the importance of averting, minimizing, and addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, including extreme weather events and slow onset events, and the role of sustainable development in reducing the risk of loss and damage.

“We heard the calls, and we responded,” said COP President Sameh Shoukry, it was only appropriate that COP27 dubbed ‘the implementation COP in Africa’ is where the fund was finally established.

“Millions around the globe can now sense a glimmer of hope that their suffering will finally be addressed, swiftly and appropriately, ” Shoukry said.

UN Climate Change Executive Secretary said the outcome had determined a way forward on a decades-long conversation on funding for loss and damage and deliberation on how the impacts on communities whose lives and livelihoods have been ruined by the very worst impacts of climate change can be addressed.

The African Group of Negotiators (AGN) welcomed the agreement on the establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund. 

“After 30 years of endeavour on African soil, the world has arrived together to establish a new fund and funding arrangements for assisting developing countries to address loss and damage by providing and assisting in mobilizing new and additional resources to the continent that are particularly the most vulnerable to the adverse effect of climate change,” said Collins Nzovu, Minister of Green Economy and Environment for Zambia in a statement, on behalf of the AGN.

Nzovu said the AGN was at COP27 to advance the implementation of climate actions and to address the escalating climate emergency affecting millions of vulnerable people, especially in Africa and other developing countries.

“We believe that with the adoption of the decisions here today, some ray of hope may shine on our planet. It is our expectation that through the commitment and actioning of the words, the burden of the poorest may be minimized,” said Nzovu.

A report by Climate Policy Initiative—US-based research and climate policy organization—found that it would cost around US$2.8 trillion between 2020 and 2030 to implement Africa’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). African governments have committed US$264 billion of domestic public resources and are banking on international funders to provide US$2.5 trillion. According to the report, Africa needs about US$250 billion per year to meet the 2030 climate goals.

Equating climate chaos to a crisis of biblical proportions, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said COP27 was driven by justice for those on the frontlines who did not cause the climate crisis and the ambition to pull humanity back from the climate cliff by keeping the 1.5-degree limit alive.

“This COP has taken an important step towards justice,” said the UN chief. “I welcome the decision to establish a loss and damage fund and to operationalize it in the coming period. Clearly, this will not be enough, but it is a much-needed political signal to rebuild broken trust.”

Mr Guterres, highlighting that the planet was still in the emergency room, called for accelerated action to drastically reduce emissions, an issue he said COP27 did not address.

“A fund for loss and damage is essential—but it’s not an answer if the climate crisis washes a small island state off the map—or turns an entire African country to the desert,” he said.

The Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that Africa will be impacted more than any other continent despite the continent only contributing less than 4% of the world’s total emissions. The report estimates that adaptation costs in developing countries will reach US$127 billion, and Africa needs up to US$86.5 billion annually by 2030. 

Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders and former President of Ireland, said in a year of multiple crises and climate shocks, the historic outcome on loss and damage at COP27 shows international cooperation is possible, even in testing times.

“Equally, the renewed commitment on the 1.5 °C global warming limit was a source of relief. However, none of these changes the fact that the world remains on the brink of climate catastrophe,” Ms Robinson said in a statement released by the Elders, a group of independent leaders founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007.

“All climate commitments must be transformed into real-world action, including the rapid phase-out of fossil fuels, a much faster transition towards green energy, and tangible plans for delivering both adaptation and loss and damage finance,” said Robinson, lamenting the slow progress made on mitigation since COP26 in Glasgow.

Robinson’s counterpart and Deputy Chair of The Elders and first Education Minister of Mozambique, Graça Machel, added that the multiple crises of food, energy, and the impacts of climate change on vulnerable nations were at the forefront of the ‘African COP’.

“Though there were restrictions on civil society in Egypt, people living on the frontlines of the climate crisis still made their voices heard: their cries for a loss and damage fund for nations devastated by climate impacts were heeded. Now rich countries must deliver on their promises and ensure the funding starts to flow as quickly as possible.” [IDN-InDepthNews – 21 November 2022]

* This article has been published with the support from MESHA/IDRC grant for the coverage of COP27.

Photo source: Daily News Egypt

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