The climate and us | COP27: A victory for Loss and Damage, but the fight for fairness remains

The United Nations (UN) climate conference (COP27) has started in Sharm-el Sheikh, Egypt on a significant note. He has put ‘loss and damage’ financing on his official agenda for the first time in the UN climate talks, meaning the issue will be discussed and negotiated over the next two weeks to arrive. to a landing zone on how this funding can be materialized. .

Why is this important?

Simply because “loss and damage” is a contentious issue. This involves holding polluters to account and ensuring they compensate climate-vulnerable nations for loss and damage to life, infrastructure, biodiversity, culture, and more. On a question involving responsibility and liability for historic emissions that have contributed significantly to global warming of 1.15 degrees Celsius today over pre-industrial levels, there has been considerable pushback from rich or annex 1 countries.

Egypt, host of COP27 with the G77 and China, which had proposed the agenda item, and the rest of the developing world, however, managed to seal it following what the president of the COP27 Sameh Shoukry described it as over 40 hours of “herculean informal negotiations”. .”

What is this item on the agenda?

“Issues relating to financing arrangements responding to loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, including emphasis on addressing loss and damage.” The agenda item has two footnotes: 1) Neither the inclusion of this agenda item nor any annotations to it prejudge outcomes on issues related to the governance of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage. 2) This sub-point and its results are without prejudice to the examination of similar questions in the future.

Furthermore, Shoukry clarified during the adoption of the agenda on Sunday that the issue will be discussed on the basis of cooperation and facilitation, and does not involve liability or compensation. The Loss and Damage Agenda will launch a process to make a final decision no later than 2024. It is indeed remarkable that such a contentious issue has found a place on the official agenda. And unless the negotiations lead to something more concrete, it will be a lost opportunity.

“The inclusion of the issue of loss and damage in the COP as an agenda item is welcome, but this is linked to the outcomes of the CMA, with the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement, which is different from the COP At the CMA, the discussion will only be about the Warsaw mechanism, not the finance facility or the window, so fingers crossed whether this will result in a ambitious result,” said RR Rashmi, Distinguished Fellow at The Energy and Resources Institute. This implies that the mechanism for funding loss and damage cannot be discussed by all official bodies of countries meeting at COP27 .

Jen Allen, a lecturer at Cardiff University who teaches international relations, tweeted:

The semantics can take some time to understand, as is the case with the jargon and expressions used in negotiations of this type.

The L&DC Master document, a briefing note prepared by loss and damage researchers on Sunday evening, said the wording of the agenda “means there is space to discuss loss and damage funding here at COP27. The agenda item will be negotiated in the subsidiary bodies. It will provide a space to negotiate some of the issues that arise from the Glasgow Dialogue which started in 2022 and will end in 2024… We hope that the outcome of the negotiations under this agenda item will be an agreement to establish a loss and damage financing facility and the process for setting it up.

The fight for an L&D facility has only just begun. Other critical issues on the official COP27 agenda include issues related to adaptation, including the adaptation fund, long-term climate finance – including the new collective quantified target on climate finance (after 2025); issues related to capacity building and development and technology transfer.

What’s not on the agenda?

The most important are fossil fuels.

If during COP26 in Glasgow, fossil fuels – coal in particular – were discussed, this time the subject is not on the agenda. It is worrying. “There is a huge greenwashing exercise in play at COP27,” Tasneem Essop, executive director of Climate Action Network International, said Monday during the briefing. She said there were even more fossil fuel representatives at COP27 than there were at COP26, where they outnumbered any country’s delegation. Fossil fuels and just transitions will be discussed – but outside the formal agenda parallel to the negotiations.

Also, there is no agenda item on keeping the 1.5 degree Celsius target within reach. Observers at COP26 and COP27 say Bolivia proposed the agenda to maintain the 1.5 degrees Celsius target last year, but it was scuttled by wealthy countries pushing for it. agenda without “equity” and the approach of “common but differentiated responsibilities” – cornerstones of the Paris Agreement.

Another worrying development is a recommendation that was adopted last night by a technical body (the Article 6.4 Monitoring Body) that would promote ocean geoengineering and other technofixes under the Paris. Some experts believe this could weaken existing references to human rights, particularly the rights of indigenous peoples.

As COP27 progresses, the traditional positions of groups of countries, especially large groups from the South and North, will gain strength. And yet, this COP brings a lot of hope for the developing world simply because it is being held in Africa with the participation of African countries. Africa and most of Asia’s equity positions are likely to be in focus.

“The context of this COP27 shows a lack of trust with rich nations that do not keep their commitments, and CSOs [civil society organisations] being limited in their rights to raise their voices,” Essop said Monday. “We are on the continent where ‘loss and damage’ is a reality. It is not too late for COP27 to rise to the occasion of Africa and the developing world where other conferences have failed. But we can no longer dodge this vital issue.” Said Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa during the press briefing.

Over the next two weeks, I will try to write about how critical agenda items including loss and damage, adaptation finance and climate finance are taking shape. Starting next Monday, I will be writing from the ground in Sharm el-Sheikh during the final stage of negotiations that will hopefully lead to a powerful outcome for the developing world.

From the climate crisis to air pollution, issues of development-environment trade-offs to India’s voice in international environmental negotiations, HT’s Jayashree Nandi brings her in-depth knowledge of the field to a weekly column

Opinions expressed are personal

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