What does the COP27 deal mean - and will it really help tackle climate change?

A new global fund to help poorer countries disproportionately affected by climate disaster - but there was no deal reached to reduce the use of fossil fuels, reports ITV News Science Editor Deborah Cohen in Sharm el-Sheikh

Will this year’s COP27 be heralded as a success or failure in the fight to tackle climate change and its impact?

As the gavel came down signalling an agreement had been made in the early hours of Sunday morning, it very much depended on who you asked. 

For those in low income countries worst affected by the effects of climate change - floods, heatwaves, drought and famine - there was a moral victory.

For the first time, the need to set up ways of paying for the impact of decades of churning out greenhouse gases was noted and agreed by international governments. (Although the small print says that who pays and who receives is yet to be decided).

This had not been expected only two weeks ago at the start of the event. 

Earlier in the week Pakistan’s climate minister, Sherry Rehman, told ITV News that countries like hers were “ground zero” for climate impacts having seen 33 million people affected in her home nation by unprecedented flooding. 

She had joined 77 other countries in calling for the big polluting countries to pay for the legacy of their emissions - so called loss and damages.

Her response today was one of relief.

Victims of flooding in Pakistan attempt to save their belongings from water damage.

“We have struggled for 30 years on this spot and today in Sharm el Sheikh this journey has achieved its first positive milestone. The establishment of a fund is not about dispensing charity,” she said adding: “It is a down payment and an investment in climate justice.”

But make no mistake this was a tetchy and tiring affair. Sessions going on until well after dark.

The meeting was described by one pundit as being like the Fyre festival - a lack of facilities with food and drink stands dismantled well before negotiations had come close to ending. 

People walk past the Queen's House and Old Naval College, in Greenwich Park, London, as a drought was declared in parts of England. Credit: PA

As muted applause greeted the final agreement, a quick scan around the negotiators showed you who wasn’t sharing the applause. 

The EU’s man on the ground, Frans Timmermans, notably withholding his. 

"I urge you to acknowledge, when you walk out of this room, that we have all fallen short in to avoid and minimise loss and damage. We should have done much more,” he said.

Ultimately the funds eventually agreed for loss and damages would have to work harder without the accompanying reductions in emissions. 

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

The UK’s climate envoy, Alok Sharma - whose legacy is the limit of 1.5C global warming agreed at COP in Glasgow last year - was scathing with what the agreement didn’t contain. 

“Emissions peaking before 2025, as the science tells us is necessary - not in this text. Clear follow through on the phase down of coal - not in this text. A clear commitment to phase out all fossil fuels - not in this text,” he said.

But government agreements are only part of what happens at COP. Much of the transition depends on what happens in boardrooms and businesses.

And as others - both from business and charities - pointed out to ITV News that there was more interest in solar, wind, eclectic vehicles, green hydrogen and steel than ever before.

But the true impact of all of this will be examined in Dubai at COP28 next year when the world takes a stocktake of how far they’ve come. 

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