COP27: Historic compensation deal struck to help worst-hit countries but 1.5C target in doubt

The 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. Credit: AP

For the first time, wealthy countries have agreed to help pay damages to poorer countries worst hit by the climate crisis after marathon talks at COP27.

But despite the success of the finance deal, the climate summit ended with no agreement to further address the burning of fossil fuels, considered to be the root cause of global heating, with the UK's representative warning the 1.5C target was "on life support".

The historic deal agreed in the early hours of Sunday in Sharm el-Sheikh after seemingly tense negotiations established a loss and damage fund for developing countries hit by disasters caused by climate change.

Delegates are celebrating the new global fund - but there's also disappointment and anger that no deal was reached to reduce the use of fossil fuels, reports ITV News Science Editor Deborah Cohen

The move was welcomed by developing nations who have long called for reparations.

Poorer countries are often the victims of extreme weather, such as floods, droughts, heat waves, famines and storms, made worse by the climate crisis despite having contributed little to global emissions.

But in his closing speech at the conference, UK representative Alok Sharma said that while progress on loss and damage has been "historic", he warned that it was not a moment for "unqualified celebration".

Victims of the unprecedented flooding from monsoon rains use makeshift barge to carry hay for cattle, in Jaffarabad, a district of Pakistan. Credit: AP

Rishi Sunak, admitted "more must be done" to tackle climate change, in the wake of COP27. In a statement released by Downing Street, the prime minister said: "I welcome the progress made at Cop27, but there can be no time for complacency. "Keeping the 1.5 degrees commitment alive is vital to the future of our planet."

Shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband accused countries of “kicking the can down the road” to tackle global warming.

Lord Deben, chairman of the Climate Change Committee, said he does not believe limiting global warming to 1.5C is a “lost cause” but the world requires urgency.

The loss and damage deal, the result of a long fought battle by climate-vulnerable countries, was celebrated by leaders of the worst-hit countries.

Pakistan environment minister Sherry Rehman, speaking for a coalition of the world’s poorest nations told fellow delegates, said the agreement “responded to the voices of the vulnerable, the damaged and the lost of the whole world by establishing a fund for the lost and the damaged".

“The agreements made at COP27 are a win for our entire world. We have shown those who have felt neglected that we hear you, we see you, and we are giving you the respect and care you deserve,” she said.

“It wasn’t easy at all,” UN Climate Chief Simon Stiell, who is from Grenada. “We worked around the clock. But this outcome does move us forward”.

But despite celebrations at securing the last-minute loss and damage deal, it only goes so far.

Many pointed to the failure to address emissions.

To minimise climate damage, scientists say we need to limit global heating to 1.5C, the agreement does little to ensure this happens.

The deal also does not expand on last year’s call to phase down global use of “unabated coal” even though India and other countries pushed to include oil and natural gas in language from Glasgow.

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In his speech, delivered after what appeared to be fraught and last-minute efforts to broker a consensus, pointed out the gaps in the agreement, Mr Sharma said: "Friends, I said in Glasgow that the pulse of 1.5 degrees was weak. "Unfortunately, it remains on life support. "And all of us need to look ourselves in the mirror, and consider if we have fully risen to that challenge over the past two weeks."

Mr Miliband welcomed the agreement to help climate-vulnerable countries but said it was not enough.

“But yet again we hear the unmistakable sound of the can being kicked down the road on the necessary actions to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees – and as a result it is now at grave risk.

“Too many countries were clearly resistant to what is required, including on fossil fuels.”

Alok Sharma, president of the COP26 climate summit, speaks at the COP27 UN Climate Summit, Credit: AP

The Labour MP said: “Cop27 has delivered an important step forward in recognising the consequences of the climate crisis for the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries.

“But yet again we hear the unmistakable sound of the can being kicked down the road on the necessary actions to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees – and as a result it is now at grave risk.

“Too many countries were clearly resistant to what is required, including on fossil fuels.”

Mr Miliband also criticised the leadership of Mr Sunak.

“COP27 was notable for the complete absence of leadership from the UK Prime Minister. The most memorable thing Rishi Sunak did was to decide not to go to Cop – before he was forced to do so out of embarrassment. This is a deeply worrying sign for the vital year ahead.

“The UK must step up in the next year, in the run-up to the global stocktake in 2023, which may be the last chance to save 1.5 degrees.”