COP27 to discuss rich countries helping poor people with damage and loss from climate-related disasters: “A reasonable sum is greater than zero”

UN climate talks began in Egypt with a landmark agreement to discuss funding for damage caused by increasingly extreme weather events – an issue that had exposed the divisions between rich and poor countries.

The agreement, reported in advance by Bloomberg, will allow diplomats and leaders to formally discuss the issue for the first time at the two-week conference in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who took over as COP27 president on Sunday, said the breakthrough had been reached after 48 hours of intense talks and would aim to reach a final decision on loss and damage. “no later than 2024”.

“This creates for the first time an institutionally stable space on the formal agenda of the COP and the Paris Agreement to discuss the pressing issue of the funding arrangements needed to address the existing gaps in disaster response. and damage,” he said.

“The inclusion of this agenda reflects a sense of solidarity and empathy with the suffering of victims of climate-induced disasters.”

Developing countries and small island states, which have contributed a tiny amount to historic emissions of global warming gases but have suffered some of the worst effects of climate change, have stepped up efforts in recent weeks to get the issue discussed. .

The demand has been on the table since meetings of the Conference of the Parties, or COP, began in the early 1990s. However, industrialized nations that have prospered for two centuries at the expense of the planet have repeatedly blocked efforts to even debate the issue, fearing it would open up demands for billions of dollars in compensation from poor nations.

Recent weather disasters, such as the floods in Pakistan, have given new impetus to the push.

The smooth adoption of the agenda followed intense negotiations behind the scenes to reach a compromise and avoid a messy skirmish during the first hour of the conference. The opening session was delayed for over an hour to allow for final discussions on the wording and content of the agenda item.

A draft official agenda included an item titled: “Issues relating to financing arrangements responding to loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, including a focus on addressing loss and damage.”

Shoukry said a compromise was reached to base the discussion on “cooperation and facilitation” and not “liability or compensation”.

A year of record heat waves, droughts and floods has added new urgency to this year’s climate talks, which are taking place in a developing country already suffering some of the most severe effects.

Egypt is already suffering from stifling heat. The flow of the Nile is decreasing and rising sea levels are damaging some of its most fertile agricultural land.

While agreement on an agenda item is a diplomatic success, countries will now have to work out how best to measure loss and damage and how much money will be put on the table by the richest. Those in developing countries have already been burned. A plan announced in 2009 to provide $100 billion in annual funding for mitigation and adaptation was never met.

“A reasonable sum is greater than zero,” Saleemul Huq, a professor at the Independent University of Bangladesh, said in an interview. “It’s true that they offer zero, which is absolutely unacceptable.”

As Egypt officially took over the presidency at the opening session on Sunday, one official after another called for the global gathering to move from a forum for talks to a forum for implementation.

“This is a historic step to ensure that vulnerable countries have the financial need to address the increasingly severe climate impacts they face,” said David Waskow, director of the climate initiative. International from the World Resources Institute.

— With the help of Laura Millan Lombrana, Mirette Magdy and Akshat Rathi

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