SHARM EL SHEIKH: United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Sunday the UN climate talks had “taken an important step towards justice” with the loss and damage fund, but fell short in pushing for the urgent carbon-cutting needed to tackle global warming.
“Our planet is still in the emergency room,” Guterres said. “We need to drastically reduce emissions now and this is an issue this COP did not address.”
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also warned that “more must be done” while France regretted the “lack of ambition” and said there was no progress on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and abandon fossil fuels.
European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said the EU was “disappointed”, adding that more than 80 nations had backed a stronger emissions pledge.
“What we have in front of us is not enough of a step forward for people and planet,” he said.
“It doesn’t bring enough added efforts from major emitters to increase and accelerate their emission cuts,” said Timmermans, who 24 hours earlier had threatened to walk out of the talks rather than getting a “bad result”.
Britain’s Alok Sharma, who chaired COP26 in Glasgow, said a passage on energy had been “weakened, in the final minutes”.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said she was frustrated that the emissions cut and fossil fuel phase-out were “stonewalled by a number of large emitters and oil producers”.
Criticised by some delegations for a lack of transparency during negotiations, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, the COP27 chair, said any missteps were “certainly not intentional”.
“I believe I succeeded in avoiding that any of the parties were to backslide,” he said.
The deal on loss and damage — which had only barely made it onto the negotiation agenda — gathered critical momentum during the talks.
Developing nations relentlessly pushed for the fund, finally succeeding in getting the backing of wealthy polluters long fearful of open-ended liability. A statement from the Alliance of Small Island States, comprised of islands whose very existence is threatened by sea level rise, said the loss and damage deal was “historic”.
“The agreements made at COP27 are a win for our entire world,” said Molwyn Joseph, of Antigua and Barbuda and chair of AOSIS.
“We have shown those who have felt neglected that we hear you, we see you, and we are giving you the respect and care you deserve.”
With around 1.2C of warming so far, the world has seen a cascade of climate-driven extremes, shining a spotlight on the plight of developing countries faced with escalating disasters, as well as an energy and food price crisis and ballooning debt. The fund will be geared towards developing nations “that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change” — language that had been requested by the EU.
The Europeans had also wanted to broaden the funder base to cough up cash — code for China and other better-off emerging countries.
The fund will focus on what can be done now to support loss and damage resources but the agreement does not provide for liability or compensation, said a US State Department spokesperson.
“The historic outcome on loss and damage at COP27 shows international cooperation is possible,” said Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and Chair of The Elders. “Equally, the renewed commitment on the 1.5C global warming limit was a source of relief. However, none of this changes the fact that the world remains on the brink of climate catastrophe.”