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COP27 redraws the map of global climate responsibility

Finally, COP27 is struggling on the oldest front in climate diplomacy: rich countries and poor countries. This time, the debate is over whether to redefine the boundaries and expand the number of countries that help poor countries fend off rising temperatures.

Nervous hours on a November evening 19. Any deal seemed out of reach. But at around 6am Egypt time on November 20th, after overnight negotiations, nearly every country on Earth agreed to an unprecedented plan to Funding climate compensation for developing countries , expanding the pool of donors and fulfilling the long-sought hopes of climate activists and the world’s most vulnerable nations. But another major goal of COP27, the global commitment to gradually reduce the use of all fossil fuels, has failed to materialize, targeting only “unabated coal” and ignoring oil and gas.

The world pledged to a more equitable climate financing system but still faces a high risk of exceeding the global warming goals set by the Paris Agreement.

Countries agree to create loss and damage fund

In the past, tensions at climate summits have focused on developed countries, The United States, in particular, has failed to take responsibility for its historical emissions by reducing their own carbon footprint and providing cash to developing countries to reduce their carbon footprint and the costs of adapting and paying for climate impacts.

That tension hasn’t subsided in the slightest. But at COP27, more than at any previous climate summit, it was underpinned by a more pragmatic question about whether it was time to expand the “developed” — and therefore fiscally responsible — side of the equation. List of countries, beyond the scope stipulated in the meeting. The original 1992 UN climate treaty.

The debate has come at its sharpest in negotiations over who pays for losses and damages, sometimes referred to as “climate compensation”. In the months leading up to COP27, diplomats from developing countries made it clear that they were demanding the creation of a dedicated loss and damage fund, administered by the United Nations, through which compensation for loss and damage could be collected and distributed. Many felt that leaving Sharm el-Sheikh without such a fund would be a clear indictment of the summit and the general good faith of developing countries in upholding the core principles of the Paris Agreement.

On November 19th, they got the funds . Although it is not due to go into effect for at least a year and has no specific funding target, the agreement “decides to establish new financial arrangements to assist developing countries in coping with loss and damage.”

Who pays for climate change?

But more controversial than the existence of the fund is Who should be the payer and beneficiary. Developing countries, led by the European Union, have pushed to expand the number of climate donors and reduce the number of recipients. Any loss and damage fund, they argue, should expand the donor pool to include countries whose current levels of per capita income and emissions place them in the responsible ranks — such as Singapore, South Korea, the Gulf states, or Israel. (China also sometimes appears on this list, although an analysis in June by the British think tank Overseas Development Institute concluded that China’s per capita income and emissions are still well below most countries on the traditional “developed” list.)

“If you freeze time in 1992, some countries now have enormous potential to support climate finance , they will be, Frans Timmermans, executive vice president of the European Commission and the EU’s chief climate negotiator, told reporters on Nov. 17.

Development banks and the private sector should also be held accountable , he argues. The agreement imposes no specific burden on developed countries, and calls for “from other sources, funds, processes and initiatives Access to new and additional resources, including outside the Convention and the Paris Agreement” – language implying voluntary contributions from a wide range of countries, development banks and the private sector.

On the recipient side, the agreement says the money is intended to support “developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to climate impacts,” language some civil society groups warn could be interpreted as limiting which developing countries qualify — Timmermans in his Closing remarks specifically mention Pakistan and island nations as potential recipients. More detailed rules will be worked out before next year’s COP28 summit.

The text lays out ideas that will shape climate finance discussions and fundraising for years to come. But like everything else in the Paris Agreement process, it is non-binding – meaning it is ultimately up to donors Giving substance to the fund. This is easier said than done: if the examples of previous climate finance goals are any guide, getting the fund up and running remains a long and painful process – especially in light of the impacts of climate change Continue to increase the cost of losses.

“Using special funds to solve losses and damages is A historic move,” said Julie Segal, senior manager of climate finance at the Canadian advocacy group Environmental Conservation. “But we need to stop making the problem worse. “

Still no agreement to phase down fossil fuel use

The agreement is not Another key priority: an agreement to gradually reduce the use of all fossil fuels. Instead, the agreement basically replicated the language of last year’s COP26 in Glasgow, which “called on signatories” to “accelerate efforts to gradually reduce unabated emissions.” coal power” without mentioning oil or natural gas, which has been a red line for Saudi Arabia and some other major fossil fuel producers.

For claiming to be about “implementation of the climate plan”, given that phasing down the use of all fossil fuels is ultimately a measure, it must be the main objective of any science-based implementation plan

). The new target backed by the UK and others to peak total global emissions by 2025 also didn’t make it into the final deal.

“There’s a lot of debate going wild Back and forth staying in the same place,” said Nat Keohane, president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, a US think tank. One surprise of the hour was that all of this was unexpected. Most countries’ positions on compensating for climate damage and phasing out fossil fuels have been known for months or years. Many observers are dismayed that Egypt’s presidency has not taken More steps lead to earlier consensus.

“The presidency has power to move things forward, but they never Never give up. “

Fossil fuel issues are sure to dominate again at next year’s COP28, which will be held in the United Arab Emirates, one of the world’s largest oil and gas exporters. A diplomatic process that almost all countries agree on on any topic is required. So it is no surprise that the most ambitious goals of activists and fragile states remain elusive.

But, Keohane The summit should not be judged solely by the jargon in the final agreement, he said. On the sidelines, while negotiations were slow or winding down, billions of dollars in clean energy deals were struck, with activists and community leaders speaking directly to ministers and the state The head of state speaks, an opportunity for a broad and disorganized coalition of people in the global economy to rally around a common vision.

For an issue of the scope and complexity of impact like climate change, the COP Still the best forum available.

“If you don’t have a COP, You need to invent it because you need people to come together every year to talk about climate,” Keohane said. “We don’t see the whole picture when the gavel falls. Fundamentally, the success or failure of the COP will be revealed in the coming years as we see the extent to which individual countries take action in their own capitals and actually mobilize these collaborative efforts. “

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