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Historic Deal to Help Countries Worst-Hit by Climate Change

COP27 panel
Credit: Twitter / COP27 @COP27P

The 27th United Nations Climate Change conference (COP27), hosted by Egypt in Sharm-El-Sheikh, reached a historic deal for the creation of a voluntary fund to help developing countries cope with the consequences of catastrophic climate change.

More than one hundred and twenty participating world leaders agreed to the establishment of the long-awaited loss and damage fund for assisting developing countries which are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change despite their minimal contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.

Negotiations went into overtime this weekend, as parties disagreed on key areas of the climate fund deal, such as whether the goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels should be part of it—a condition on which the EU strongly insisted.

After two weeks of extensive negotiations, COP27 has concluded with a hallmark implementation plan, and a historic deal for agenda item and outcome on loss and damage funding,” the COP27 official account posted on Twitter. 

Despite the historic deal, critics of the conference point out that it concluded without a commitment to phase out fossil fuel while the details of which countries should be paying into the fund and which will be eligible to benefit from it will be determined at a later stage by a dedicated committee.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a video statement that the UN climate conference has taken an important step towards justice, but much remains to be done.

EU’s proposal for the climate fund

The EU representation to the COP27 fought to keep the 1.5°C goal in the deal and asked that there be a broad funders’ basis with contributions determined by the various countries’ financial situation in 2022, and not in 1992, like China seemed to insist.

Frans Timmermans, executive vice-president for the European Green Deal, posted to Twitter on Saturday that “the EU is united in our ambition to move forward and build on what we agreed in Glasgow. Our message to partners is clear: we cannot accept that 1.5C dies here and today.”

“We all know that if we don’t reduce our emissions, all our other efforts will come to an halt,” Timmermans told reporters on Friday, explaining the EU’s “proposal to find a compromise” with an offer to which all member states agree.

“My reluctance with the fund is that I know, from past experience, that it takes time before such a fund is established, and then even more time before this fund is filled,” he explained. “We have other existing instruments…we can target to help the most vulnerable.”

The “transitional committee,” which will be responsible to make recommendations on how to operationalize the new funding arrangements and the fund at COP28 next year, is expected to hold its first meeting before the end of March 2023.

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