November 7, 2022
SHARM EL SHEIKH – Global talks to tackle worsening climate change started off on a positive note in Egypt on Sunday with nations agreeing to discuss a fund for poorer nations suffering loss and damage from increasingly extreme climate impacts.
The decision in the opening hours of the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP27, met a key demand by vulnerable developing nations hit hard by costly floods, storms, droughts and rising sea levels – disasters not of their making.
The conference will now discuss the shape of the fund and sources of financing, but it could take another year or two to flesh out all the details.
The issue of loss and damage has been deeply divisive at UN climate talks. At last year’s COP26 talks in Glasgow, wealthy nations blocked a proposal for a loss and damage financing body at the last minute.
COP27 is tasked with scaling up finance to help poorer nations green their economies and cope with weather-related disasters that are driving them deeper into debt.
“We have reached a point where finance makes or breaks the programme of work ahead of us,” Mr Alok Sharma of Britain, the president of COP26, told the opening plenary. He was handing over the presidency to Mr Sameh Shoukry of Egypt.
More than 45,000 delegates and 110 world leaders are expected to attend the two-week conference, the UN’s annual climate gathering that brings together nearly 200 nations, civil society, business and the media.
The loss and damage decision comes as the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said on Sunday that the past eight years are on track to be the eight warmest on record.
In releasing its provisional State of the Global Climate in 2022 report, the WMO said ever-rising greenhouse gas concentrations and accumulated heat are driving weather extremes. This included doubling of the rate of sea-level rise in the past 20 years, accelerating glacier loss and record heatwaves.
More than 130 developing nations in the Group of 77 and China bloc back a finance mechanism that would compensate poorer, more vulnerable nations such as Pakistan and storm-damaged island nations in the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean for climate-related destruction.
Wealthier states, which are most to blame for the planet-warming greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere, have long opposed anything that would bind them to long-term compensation for climate impacts.
But in recent months, major emitters the European Union and the United States have eased their opposition.
“At long last, providing funding to address losses and damages from climate impacts is on the agenda of the UN climate negotiations,” said Mr Ani Dasgupta, president and chief executive of Washington-based think-tank World Resources Institute.
“With climate impacts devastating communities all around us, the international community can no longer avert its eyes from the deadly and costly consequences of a warming world,” he said in a statement.