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COP27 split on compensation fund for climate victims

16 November 2022

Greta Thunberg condemns Sweden for delaying progress

Albin Hillert

Delegates and negotiators in the main plenary hall at the COP27 talks in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, this week

Delegates and negotiators in the main plenary hall at the COP27 talks in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, this week

TALKS at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt are entering their final days with a decision still to be made on whether nations will agree to set up a special fund to compensate the most vulnerable victims of climate change.

The summit, where 30,000 people descended on the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, has been described as “4D spaghetti” by one delegate, such is the complexity of the various negotiation strands, which all run concurrently.

Some of the issues being discussed include emissions reductions, the delivery of climate finance to help poorer countries adapt to the effects of climate change, support for developing nations to decarbonise their economies, the part played by carbon markets, and the creation of the loss-and-damage fund to compensate people who have suffered losses that cannot be adapted to.

One of the countries holding up progress on such a fund is Sweden. Greta Thunberg, the Swedish climate campaigner who started the climate school strikes movement, tweeted her disapproval: “Sweden opposes the creation of a fund for climate damages and thus complicates the negotiations on #COP27. This fund would provide crucial support for those most affected — it is a matter of life and death for countless people.”

The summit is scheduled to close on Friday evening, but often the talks run into overtime, and might finish on Sunday, or even Monday. One of the late developments gaining traction is a proposal by India to build on the decision agreed at last year’s meeting, COP26, in Glasgow. At those talks, countries agreed to “phase down” coal production, the dirtiest fossil fuel (News, 19 November 2021). This year, India has suggested that countries agree to phasing down all fossil fuels, including oil and gas.

Albin HillertThe Bishop of California, the Rt Revd Marc Andrus, at a press conference in Sharm El-Sheikh

Although seen by some as a cynical tactic by India to move the focus away from coal, of which India has a great deal, vulnerable countries and campaigners have welcomed the inclusion of other fossil fuels, which scientists say will need to be cut rapidly if the goal of limiting global heating to 1.5°C is to be achieved.

Rudelmar Bueno de Faria is the general secretary of the ACT Alliance, a global network of 147 churches and Christian humanitarian agencies. He said: “We would like to see a COP27 outcome which includes the commitment to phase out of all fossil fuels. It should be accompanied by an equal commitment from developed nations to mobilise the needed finance to make it possible. This will be a big step towards keeping 1.5°C alive, and meeting the needs of the most vulnerable, including women and girls, who daily face the consequences of inaction on climate change.”

Efforts to keep temperatures under 1.5°C were also backed by the Vatican. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who is heading the Holy See’s official delegation at the summit, said: “On mitigation ambitions, we should be guided by the awareness that we have no choice but to keep 1.5°C alive, to avoid hitting the tipping points beyond which there is no return, as science warns. The Holy See delegation is glad to see the 1.5°C goal is reflected in the current non-paper.”

Albin Hillert“No more stolen lives”: protest by indigenous people outside the COP27 venue on Tuesday

Despite a slow first week, there are signs of action. On Wednesday, the new President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, addressed the summit. His victory over Jair Bolsonaro (News, 4 November) is seen as a big step forward for global action on climate change and nature restoration, with Amazon deforestation and destruction a theme of his predecessor’s regime.

Mariana Paoli, a Brazilian climate expert who is following the talks for Christian Aid, said: “We need a new sense of hope to build trust and momentum towards a positive outcome at COP27. President Lula’s election victory in Brazil has the potential to breathe new life into this process, with his progressive agenda that seeks to bring Brazil back to the table and end the disastrous climate policies of his predecessor.

“Brazil has historically been a major player at the climate talks. The seventh largest country in the world by population, and home to the Amazon rainforest, having a climate ally as President is a big deal for global efforts to reduce emissions, restore nature, and provide support for the vulnerable.”

The plight of the indigenous people who live in and defend the Amazon was highlighted by the Bishop of California, the Rt Revd Marc Andrus, who is attending COP27.

He said: “This interlocking relationship between people and ecosystems is a hard thing for those of us with exploitative understandings of the land to comprehend. When we are invested in the land and the land in us, this inextricably interrelated reality calls on us who seek to be allies of indigenous people to protect the people and the ecosystems, because both must be protected to protect either.

“There are an appalling number of forest protectors, elders in the Amazon basin, who see it as their calling to protect the Amazon, who are being murdered. They are being targeted and assassinated at an alarming rate. Those behind the murders know that if they remove these most crucial defenders of the forest, they are removing a linchpin of protection for the forest.”

Joe Ware is a senior climate journalist at Christian Aid.

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