Countries celebrate first-ever fund for climate damages at COP27

Countries celebrate first-ever fund for climate damages at COP27

For the first time in history countries have agreed on a dedicated fund to pay out for extreme climate damages in vulnerable regions, finally bringing to a close a tumultuous two weeks at the COP27 climate summit.

Many questions about the hard-won fund remain, including who pays in, who is eligible for the money and who administers it.

But the United Nations summit has brought what was a taboo issue into the mainstream, with even the US, a longtime blocker, accepting the need for such a pot of money.

It was regarded as a breakthrough that funding for “loss and damage,” as it is known, even made it on to the official agenda for the talks in Sharm el-Sheikh.

“The world is watching,” COP27 presidency Sameh Shoukry said before he waved through the deal, which was greeted by applause from weary delegates at about 4.15am local time on Sunday.

Disasters such as extreme flooding, drought and sea level rise have been supercharged by a hotter climate, driven primarily by pollution from developing countries. The group of 20 major economies is responsible for 75% of global emissions.

Laurence Tubiana, architect of the Paris Agreement, called it a “breakthrough for the most vulnerable countries”.

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In spite of the outstanding details, “the principle is in place and that is a significant mindset shift”, she added.

Vanessa Nakate, an activist from Uganda, said losses and damage from climate breakdown “in vulnerable countries is now unignorable, but some developed countries here in Egypt have decided to ignore our suffering”.

Towards the end of the second week, delegates wondered whether a deal would materialise, with countries at loggerheads over the design of the fund.

An EU proposal on Thursday appeared to break the deadlock, and the final version morphed considerably after that, as things moved quickly in the final hours.

“We have come a long way, although we have been waiting for this for 30 long years,” said Harjeet Singh from Climate Action Network, who has campaigned for loss and damage for years.

The COP process relies on consensus so all of the almost 200 countries present have to agree on the deal for it to go through.

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