The 200 nations at the United Nations climate conference passed a hard-won agreement early Sunday at COP27 that includes a plan to create a much-needed “loss and damage” fund to help poor countries hit by climate-related disasters. However, efforts to combat the emissions they cause have not been ramped up, and many contentious issues have been postponed to 2023.
In their closing statement early Sunday morning, the participants also reiterated their earlier decision to phase out coal. Did not say goodbye to oil and gas. The declaration thus falls short of the demands of many countries, climate activists and environmentalists.
“It wasn’t easy. We worked around the clock,” COP President Sameh Shoukry said Sunday morning at the end of the conference. “Any errors that may have been there were not intended.” Shoukry said the talks between representatives of about 200 countries were tense at times, but we “eventually delivered it.” Agreeing a new measure of money for the consequences of climate damage in poor countries gives hope to millions of affected people around the world.
The new compensation fund aims to mitigate the inevitable consequences of global warming – such as increasingly frequent droughts, floods and storms, as well as rising sea levels and desertification. The issue of “losses and damages” was the main point of contention in the Sharm el-Sheikh conference, which lasted two weeks and was extended for more than 36 hours.
The regulation is missing, who pays and how much
The decision did not mention any amounts for the new fund, nor details about who exactly should be paid. This will be demonstrated at COP28 next year in Dubai. Particularly vulnerable developing countries should be favored. The European Union in particular has insisted on this limitation.
In the final declaration, countries were also asked to improve their grossly inadequate climate protection plans by the next climate conference at the latest. This will take place in the United Arab Emirates at the end of 2023. The improvements remain voluntary, there is no obligation.
The conference, for which some 34,000 participants traveled to the Red Sea, began working overtime on Friday evening. On Saturday night, after slow and sometimes chaotic processes in negotiating circles, unrest broke out. After arduous deliberation, the breakthrough finally followed early Sunday morning.
The United States initially blocked the new compensation fund, while the group of more than 130 developing countries known as the Group of 77, along with China, increased pressure. After hesitating at first, the EU finally changed its mind.
One controversial aspect of this issue is the role of China. The country, which ranks first in climate-damaging emissions, wants to continue to be treated as a developing country in the field of international climate protection. Western countries no longer want to classify the country as a recipient country because of its economic strength and its role as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Chinese negotiator Xie Zhenhua said developing countries should get the money but give priority to “at-risk countries”.
“The outcome of the World Climate Conference is disappointing. Because we haven’t made any significant progress in reducing emissions compared to Glasgow last year. More determination and speed is needed in this area in particular. Because climate protection has become a matter of survival,” said Climate Protection Minister Leonore Goessler ( Al-Khidr) in a statement to APA.
Federal President Alexander van der Bellen, who tested positive for the coronavirus on Saturday, called the agreement at COP27 “realistic”: “It could not have been possible to agree on more ambitious emissions-cutting targets. The world is not ‘on the right track,'” was the assessment. The head of state on Twitter, on the other hand, praised the planned climate damage compensation fund, saying that it is “historic and an important step towards climate justice.”
The European Union decided to approve the final document of COP 27 because progress had been made on the second central theme of this proviso: in the area of “loss and damage”, i.e. financing of loss and damage. “Here we have been able to agree on urgently needed support for particularly vulnerable countries affected by the climate crisis. This decision is an important, urgent and necessary signal of global solidarity,” Geussler said.
Guterres: “The main goals are missing”
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has accused the United Nations Climate Conference of failing to achieve key goals. Guterres said Sunday morning in Sharm el-Sheikh that it had not been possible to achieve the “dramatic reductions in emissions” that were needed to curb global warming. The Secretary-General of the United Nations stressed the tragedy of the situation, “our planet is in the emergency room.” “We need to cut emissions dramatically, and the climate conference has failed to address this.”
EU Vice-President Frans Timmermans strongly criticized the agreement reached at the World Climate Conference in Egypt after arduous negotiations. “This is the decisive decade, but what lies ahead is not a sufficient step forward for people and the planet,” Timmermans, who is also the European Union’s climate commissioner, said in Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday. In his view, the agreement does not oblige top emitters to make additional efforts to reduce climate-damaging greenhouse gas emissions faster.
“A pre-programmed path to climate hell”
Environmental protection organization Greenpeace responded to the climate conference in Sharm El-Sheikh with mixed feelings: “With the current outcome, the road to climate hell is inevitable, because there is no end in sight for oil and gas. The 5° target is a long way. However, one success can be recorded.” : A financial pot can be created for climate-related damages and losses.”
An evaluation by the Coalition for Climate Justice reached a similar conclusion. “Instead of aimless operations, we need ambitious actions on emissions reductions, adaptation guidelines, gender equality and climate finance,” she said on a radio show. For Global 2000, the climate conference remained “without a roadmap out of the climate crisis,” and so the world is heading towards catastrophic climate consequences, according to the WWF “the world has given up on reaching the 1.5° target.” (appa)
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