Tuesday, December 6, 2022

UN climate talks poised for deal creating disaster fund

Negotiators say they have struck a potential breakthrough deal on the thorniest issue of United Nations climate talks, the creation of a fund for compensating poor nations that are victims of extreme weather worsened by rich nations’ carbon pollution.
“There is an agreement on loss and damage,” which is what negotiators call the concept, Maldives Environment Minister Aminath Shauna told The Associated Press on Saturday.
It still needs to be approved unanimously in a vote later today. “That means for countries like ours we will have the mosaic of solutions that we have been advocating for.”
“We proposed a text and this actually just has just been accepted, so we now have a fund,” Norway Climate and Environment minister Espen Barth Eide told the AP. New Zealand Climate Minister James Shaw said both the poor countries that would get the money and the rich ones that would give it are on board with the proposed deal.
If approved, it’s a big win for poorer nations which have been calling for compensation — sometimes even called reparations — for decades because they are often the victims of climate disasters despite having contributed little to the pollution that heats up the globe. It’s a reflection of what can be done when they remain unified, said Alex Scott, a climate diplomacy expert at the think tank E3G.
“I think this is huge to have governments coming together to actually work out at least the first step of at least how to deal with the issue of loss and damage,” Scott said.
But like all climate financials, it is one thing to create a fund, it’s another to get money flowing in and out, she said. The developed world still has not kept its 2009 pledge to spend USD 100 billion a year in other climate aid — designed to help poor nations develop green energy and adapt to future warming.
“The draft decision on loss and damage finance offers hope to the vulnerable people that they will get help to recover from climate disasters and rebuild their lives,” said Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy at Climate Action Network International.
The Chinese lead negotiator would not comment on a possible deal. The US negotiations office, where special envoy John Kerry is sick with COVID-19, declined to comment. China and the US are the two biggest carbon polluters. European negotiators were huddling over proposals.
Alok Sharma, the British official who chaired last year’s climate talks in Glasgow, said details of the agreement still needed be worked out.
“We are continuing to discuss,” he said, as he rushed with aides to a meeting at the Egyptian presidency office.
The Egyptian presidency, which had been under criticisms by all sides, proposed a new loss and damage agreement on Saturday afternoon and within a couple hours an agreement was struck but Norway’s Eide said it was not so much the Egyptians but countries working together.
According to the draft of the proposal from Egypt developed countries would be “urged” to contribute to the fund, which would also draw on other private and public sources of money such as international financial institutions.
“We managed to make progress on an important outcome,” said Wael Aboulmagd, who heads Egyptian delegation.
However, the Egyptian proposal does not suggest that major emerging economies such as China have to contribute to the fund, which was a key ask of the European Union and the United States.

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