Climate Talks Begin in Egypt, with Climate Compensation on Agenda for First Time
After late-night talks, delegates at the UN's COP27 climate meeting in Egypt agreed to put on the official agenda the hard question of whether rich countries should pay poor countries that are most affected by climate change.
For more than a decade, wealthier countries have resisted public discussions on what is known as loss and damage or funds provided to assist poor countries in dealing with the consequences of global warming.
COP27 President Sameh Shoukry told the plenary that kicks off this year's two-week United Nations conference, which is attended by more than 190 countries, that the decision created "an institutionally stable space" for discussion of "the pressing issue of funding arrangements."
At COP26 in Glasgow in 2021, countries with high incomes voted against a plan for a loss and damage financing body. They backed a three-year dialogue for funding discussions.
Mr. Shoukry says that the loss and damage talks currently on the COP27 agenda won't promise compensation or necessarily admit liability but will lead to a conclusive decision "no later than 2024."
The Ukraine crisis, the rise in energy prices, and the possibility of an economic slump have all made governments less likely to guarantee funds for poor countries, even though those countries need them more than ever.
Harjeet Singh, who is in charge of global political strategy at the non-profit Climate Action Network International, said that the negotiations on the night of November 5 before the agenda was approved were "extremely challenging". “Rich countries in the first place never wanted loss and damage to be on the agenda.”
Some criticised the flippant language on liability, but placing the issue formally on the agenda will compel wealthier nations to engage with the subject.
“They rightly expect more solidarity from the rich countries, and Germany is ready for this, both in climate financing and in dealing with damage and losses,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in a statement.
At the summit, Germany hopes to launch a "protective shield against climate risks," a project it has been working on with vulnerable countries such as Bangladesh and Ghana.
The International Centre for Climate Change and Development, based in Bangladesh, said it was "good news" that loss and damage were officially on the table.
“Now the real work begins to make finance a reality,” Salmeel Huq, director of the centre, said.