A landmark decision at COP 27 on loss and damage

Two weeks of negotiations and 37 hours of overtime until the official end date resulted in historic recognition of the need to provide financial assistance to the countries most affected by climate damage. In the end, it was agreed that to compensate for the “loss and damage”, the governments of the rich countries will release funds to save and rebuild the poor regions which have suffered from the effects of climate change. On the other hand, the 196 participating countries failed to reach an agreement on fossil fuels.

From Sharm el-Sheikh, the Egyptian coastal city, the climate negotiations began on November 6, 2022. They were characterized by haste and a “tragic” tone, considering the negative consequences of climate change for the world, especially on the poor countries that do not contribute significantly to the pollution of the planet , but on the other hand, they are the most affected by these climate changes. For example, the African continent only contributes about 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but it is the most affected continent.

For this reason, the agreement on financing “loss and damage” for the benefit of the hardest-hit countries is a success that the world has long awaited in anticipation of the agreement on fossil fuels, the spread of which still poses a major threat to the planet. Fossil fuels, which are non-renewable energies, contribute significantly to the increase in atmospheric temperatures. Burning oil and coal, which are the main types of fossil fuels, causes the release of harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide. These gases pollute the air and interact with atmospheric moisture to produce acid rain.

Faced with the lack of consensus on fossil fuels and without measures for global warming, we can say that the agreement on “loss and damage” is a response to the symptoms of the environmental crisis and not to its causes, due to the breakdown of negotiations on the main causes of environmental pollution “fossil fuels”.

It seems clear today that meeting the target of 1.5 degrees Celsius of global temperature increase is a long way off. It appears from the stumbling block in the negotiations on the night of Saturday 19 November 2022 and if the creation of the loss and damage fund had not been announced, this conference would have been a great loss, but the questions that now arise, who will finance the fund. Loss and damage fund? And how will losses be calculated?

It seems difficult to answer these questions, especially in light of the unsettled position of the developed countries, including the United States, which have reluctantly agreed to establish this loss and damage fund. In this context, it should be remembered that, contrary to the position of certain polluting countries, other countries, such as Scotland and Denmark, committed themselves to finance the losses due to climate change, even before announcing the COP 27 in Egypt and before the announcement of this new fund , such as Scotland, which announced last year that it would allocate more than a million dollars to finance losses and damages, then a month before the start of the climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Denmark announced its commitment of 13 million dollars. in favor of developing countries. During the conference, Germany announced the allocation of 170 million dollars for loss and damage, then Belgium announced the allocation of 2.5 million euros in favor of Mozambique, which suffered serious consequences last year after heavy rains. Austria also announced the allocation of 50 million dollars to finance affected developing countries.
The COP 27 final declaration fell short of the Glasgow summit’s ambition to reduce harmful carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. Alok Sharma, who chaired last year’s climate summit, took the floor and spoke of the struggle he has experienced this year to meet the commitments in Glasgow, and he did not hide his concern about the lack of commitments and actions to reduce the global emissions by 2025 in the final declaration of COP 27, which was not very different from the declaration of Glasgow, a declaration that is content to call, without presenting real measures, for “a “rapid” reduction of emissions” without new ambitions . No measure to reduce emissions was mentioned in this final text, and no measure to reduce fossil fuels. In a statement to the media after the conclusion of the climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Alok Sharma said “The Loss and Damage Fund is necessary, but it is about mitigation rather than prevention.”

For his part, UN Secretary-General António Guterres spoke of an important step towards climate justice and rebuilding trust, saying: “COP27 has taken an important step towards justice. I welcome the decision to establish the Loss and Damage Fund in the coming period. It is clear that it will not be enough, but it is a political signal and we must rebuild the broken trust.”

Egypt’s Foreign Minister and head of the climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Sameh Shoukry said, on the other hand, that the agreement regarding “loss and damage” is a landmark agreement to activate the Paris Agreement, underscoring its determination to turn climate threats into opportunities.

Fulfillment of obligations remains the most difficult test. Developing and poor countries urgently need funding to deal with the negative effects of climate change, to which they have not contributed significantly. It should be noted here that financing is not one “privilege”, but rather a “right” for these countries. This financing can allow these countries to invest more in clean energy and it can be a solution to open new economic horizons and even remove the unemployment dilemma that they suffer from.

Rabeb Aloui

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