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Loss & damage funding on COP 27’s official agenda but with caveats

Developing nations have been demanding that developed world compensate for losses suffered due to climate change. Negotiations will include those that occur during Glasgow Dialogues.

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New Delhi: The UN’s climate change summit opened Sunday with the inclusion of funding for losses and damages in the official agenda for climate talks, marking the culmination of a decades’ long effort by developing countries.

The opening plenary of COP27 began hours later than the scheduled time at Egypt’s coastal city Sharm el-Sheikh, with member countries debating the inclusion of the agenda item late into the night.

Losses and damages refers to the wreckage vulnerable countries must deal with when they can no longer adapt to the effects of climate change.

Developing countries have long demanded that their developed counterparts set up a finance facility to fund the losses and damages arising from climate change, for which they are least responsible.

For decades, the developed world blocked any proposals related to loss and damage funding. The inclusion of the agenda item in the COP27 marks the first ever time that it will be discussed formally in climate negotiations.

Its adoption, however, comes with certain caveats.

“The outcomes of this agenda item are based on cooperation and facilitation, and do not involve liability or compensation,” COP27 president and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said in the opening plenary, “It will launch a process with a view to adopting a conclusive decision no later than 2024.”

Negotiations on loss and damage during the COP27 will also include those that occur during the Glasgow Dialogues on Loss and Damage, a platform set by the COP26 to deliberate funding arrangements for losses and damages.

Also Read: Need concrete action on climate adaptation at COP27, says lead negotiator for African countries

Cautious optimism

Civil society groups and experts said the inclusion of loss and damage funding in the agenda gives developing countries more elbow room to have their demands heard.

The issue is likely to remain hotly contested, however, with the clauses of compensation and liability off the table.

“It is outrageous that developed countries continue to desist paying compensation for the losses and damages that poor and vulnerable countries have to bear,” said Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy at the Climate Action Network, a civil society organization focussed on climate action.

“The inclusion of the agenda item should focus on building a mechanism that will actually help people on the ground. It’s a renewed fight for developing countries to push for a finance facility, which must materialise here,” Singh added.

World Resources Institute President and CEO Ani Dasgupta said it was “encouraging” that countries could reach a conclusive decision on funding arrangements within two years.

“Of course, getting funding to address loss and damage on the agenda is only the first step. We still have a marathon ahead of us before countries iron out a formal decision on this central issue for CO27. It is critical that all countries work together in good faith to get this done,” he said in a statement.

Tough negotiations ahead

Between 7 and 8 November, the COP27 will feature the Sharm El-Sheikh Climate Implementation Summit, in which heads of states and governments will deliver speeches and participate in round table discussions on implementing climate action.

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not attending the summit, Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav will be present for the high-level segment.

Apart from loss and damage, the negotiations will involve key discussions on climate finance and augmenting mitigation efforts, among others.

“The litmus test of this and every future COP is how far deliberations are accompanied by action. Everybody, every single day, everywhere in the world, needs to do everything they possibly can to avert the climate crisis,” UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell said at the opening plenary.

“COP27 sets out a new direction for a new era of implementation: where outcomes from the formal and informal process truly begin to come together to drive greater climate progress — and accountability for that progress,” he asserted.

(Edited by Tony Rai)

Also Read: Loss & damage finance, adaptation, mitigation — here’s what to expect at COP27 & what it means

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