Compensation fund deal for poorer nations held up by last-minute delays at COP27

One-third of Pakistan was submerged in vast floods this summer. Credit: AP

A deal for an historic United Nations (UN) fund that would see wealthy countries compensate poorer nations hit by climate disaster is being held up by last-minute delays at COP27.

A fight over emissions cutting and the overall climate change goal is delaying the potentially historic deal that would create a fund for developing countries that fall victim to extreme weather worsened by rich countries’ carbon pollution.

“We are extremely on overtime. There were some good spirits earlier today. I think more people are more frustrated about the lack of progress,” Norwegian climate change minister Espen Barth Eide told The Associated Press at the climate summit in Egypt on Saturday.

He said cinching a deal came down to getting tougher on fossil fuel emissions and retaining the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times, as was agreed in last year’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

“Some of us are trying to say that we actually have to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees and that requires some action. We have to reduce our use of fossil fuels, for instance,” Mr Eide added.

Climate activists (L) Luisa Neubauer, of Germany, and (R) Patience Nabukalu, of Uganda, call for reparations for loss and damage. Credit: AP

“But there’s a very strong fossil fuel lobby ... trying to block any language that we produce. So that’s quite clear.”

Several cabinet ministers from across the globe told the AP earlier Saturday that agreement was reached on a fund for what negotiators call loss and damage.

It would be a big win for poorer nations which have long called for cash — sometimes viewed as reparations — because they are often the victims of climate disasters despite having contributed little to the pollution that heats up the globe.

ITV News science editor Deborah Cohen reports from COP27 in Egypt

However, the other issues are seemingly delaying any action. A meeting to approve an overall agreement was pushed back more than two-and-a-half hours on Saturday with little sign of diplomats getting together for a formal plenary to approve a deal.

The loss and damage deal was a high point earlier in the day at the summit, being held in Sharm el-Sheikh.

“This is how a 30-year-old journey of ours has finally, we hope, found fruition today,” Pakistan Climate Minister Sherry Rehman said.

Pakistan often took the lead for the world’s poorest nations at the summit, after one-third of the nation was submerged this summer by a devastating flood.

Mrs Rehman and other officials used the motto: “What went on in Pakistan will not stay in Pakistan.”

If a loss and damage agreement is accepted it still needs to be approved in a unanimous decision late into Saturday evening.

But other parts of a deal, outlined in a package of proposals put out earlier in the day by the Egyptian chairs of the talks, were still being hammered out late in the evening as negotiators headed into what they hoped was their final session.

According to the latest draft, the fund would initially draw on contributions from developed countries and other private and public sources such as international financial institutions.

While major emerging economies such as China would not initially be required to contribute, that option remains on the table and will be negotiated over the coming years.

This is a key demand by the European Union and the US, who argue that China and other large polluters currently classified as developing countries have the financial clout and responsibility to pay their way.

The planned fund would be largely aimed at the most vulnerable nations, though there would be room for middle-income countries that are severely battered by climate disasters to get aid.

An overarching decision that sums up the outcomes of the climate talks doesn't include India’s call to phase down oil and natural gas, in addition to last year’s agreement to wean the world from “unabated” coal.

Several rich and developing nations called Saturday for a last-minute push to step up emissions cuts, warning that the outcome barely builds on what was agreed in Glasgow last year.

It also doesn’t require developing countries such as China and India to submit any new targets before 2030.

Experts say these are needed to achieve the more ambitious 1.5C goal that would prevent some of the more extreme effects of climate change.

Throughout the climate summit, the American, Chinese, Indian and Saudi Arabian delegations have kept a low public profile, while European, African, Pakistan and small island nations have been more vocal.

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