UN climate talks set for deal creating disaster fund

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UN climate talks set for deal creating disaster fund
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By SETH BORENSTEIN, SAMY MAGDY and FRANK JORDANS (Associated Press)

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — Negotiators on Sunday morning approved a landmark deal that would create a fund to compensate poor nations for extreme weather conditions worsened by carbon pollution from wealthy nations, but a broader comprehensive agreement was still up in the air due to a fight for emissions reduction efforts.

After the decision on the fund was approved, the talks were suspended for 30 minutes so that delegates could read the texts of other measures on which they were to vote.

The decision establishes a fund for what negotiators call loss and damage. It’s a big win for poorer countries that have long been crying out for money – sometimes seen as reparations – as they often fall victim to floods, droughts, heat waves, famines and worsening storms. by the climate, although they have contributed little to the pollution that warms the globe.

It has also long been called a matter of climate justice.

“This is how our 30-year-old journey has finally, we hope, culminated today,” said Pakistani Climate Minister Sherry Rehman, who has often taken the lead of the world’s poorest nations. . A third of her country was submerged in a devastating flood this summer and she and other officials have used the motto: “What happened in Pakistan will not stay in Pakistan”.

Maldives’ Environment Minister Aminath Shauna told the AP on Saturday that “it means that for countries like ours, we will have the patchwork of solutions that we advocate.”

Outside experts hailed the decision as historic.

“This loss and damage fund will be a lifeline for poor families whose homes are destroyed, farmers whose fields are destroyed and islanders driven from their ancestral homes,” said Ani Dasgupta, chair of the think tank. environmental World Resources Institute, minutes after the early morning approval. “This positive outcome from COP27 is an important step towards rebuilding trust with vulnerable countries.”

It’s a reflection of what can be done when poorer nations stay together, said Alex Scott, climate diplomacy expert at think tank E3G.

“I think it’s huge that governments are coming together to work on at least the first step of…how to deal with loss and damage,” Scott said. But like all climate finance, it’s one thing to set up a fund, it’s another to get money in and out, she said. The developed world has still not delivered on its 2009 promise to spend $100 billion a year on other climate aid – designed to help poor countries develop green energy and adapt to future warming.

The agreement “offers hope to vulnerable people that they will get help to recover from climate disasters and rebuild their lives,” said Harjeet Singh, head of global policy strategy at Climate Action Network International.

“Loss and damage is a way to both acknowledge past damage and to compensate for that past damage,” said Dartmouth climatologist Justin Mankin, who calculated dollar amounts for each country’s warming. “This damage is scientifically identifiable.”

“In many ways, we’re talking about reparations,” said Sacoby Wilson, a professor of environmental health and justice at the University of Maryland. “It’s an appropriate term to use,” he said, as rich countries in the North benefit from fossil fuels, while poorer countries in the South bear the brunt of floods, droughts, climate refugees and from hunger.

Egypt’s presidency, which had been criticized by all parties, offered a new loss and damage deal on Saturday afternoon and within hours a deal was struck, but Norway’s negotiator said it was not both the Egyptians and the countries working together.

German climate envoy Jennifer Morgan and Chilean environment minister Maisa Rojas, who steered the deal through the agenda and to the finish line, hugged after passing , posed for a photo and said “yes, we did it!”

According to the agreement, the fund would initially draw contributions from developed countries and other private and public sources such as international financial institutions. While large emerging economies such as China would initially not be required to contribute, this option remains on the table and will be negotiated over the next few years. This is a key demand from the European Union and the United States, which argue that China and other major polluters currently classified as developing countries have the financial clout and responsibility to pay their share.

The fund would largely go to the most vulnerable nations, although there is room for middle-income countries that are badly hit by climate disasters to get help.

Wrinkled, bleary-eyed delegations began to fill the plenary hall Sunday at 4 a.m. local time, without seeing the global coverage decision.

Heading into the final session, battle lines have been drawn over India’s demand to amend last year’s deal which called for a ‘relentless coal’ phase-out to include a phase-out petroleum and natural gas, two other fossil fuels that produce heat-trapping gases. . While European nations and others continue to push for the language, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Nigeria have insisted on keeping it out.

“We are extremely in overtime. There was good humor earlier in the day. I think more people are more frustrated with the lack of progress,” Norwegian Climate Change Minister Espen Barth Eide told The Associated Press. He said it was about toughening fossil fuel emissions and keeping the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times, as agreed at the summit about last year’s weather in Glasgow.

“Some of us are trying to say that we actually need to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees and that requires action. We need to reduce our use of fossil fuels, for example,” Eide said. But there’s a very powerful fossil fuel lobby… trying to block any language that we produce. So that’s pretty clear.”

Both developed and developing countries were very concerned about proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, known as mitigation. Officials said Egypt’s proposed language backtracks on some of the commitments made at last year’s UN climate conference in Glasgow aimed at keeping alive the goal of limiting global warming to 1 .5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times. The world has already warmed by 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) since the mid-19th century.

Some of the Egyptian language on mitigation apparently went back to the 2015 Paris agreement, which was before scientists knew how crucial the 1.5 degree threshold was and heavily mentioned a weaker goal of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) is why scientists and Europeans are afraid to go back, said climatologist Maarten van Aalst of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Climate Centre.

Irish Environment Minister Eamon Ryan said: “We need to reach agreement on 1.5 degrees. We need strong language on mitigation and that’s what we’re going to push.

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Wanjohi Kabukuru, David Keyton, Theodora Tongas and Kelvin Chan contributed to this report.

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The Associated Press’s climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. Learn more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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