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COP27: Clear battle lines drawn on loss and damage as rich try to divide the poor

This is a clear attempt to create divisions and to make the poor fight the poor, according to Sunita Narain, director-general of CSE

Clear battle lines have emerged between wealthy historical polluter countries and developing ones on the last day of the 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. 

The friction happened while discussing the three options:  

  1. A new fund
  2. New and enhanced funding arrangements that will eventually also establish a fund
  3. New and enhanced funding arrangements that will collate funding from existing sources, both within and outside the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement

On the penultimate day on November 17, the speaker for Barbados, on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), had lamented at a Heads of Delegation meeting that no time had been allocated for formal negotiations on loss and damage, and no joint contact groups had been formed.

The COP27 Presidency quickly issued a public notice the same evening that space would be made available on the last day, and a draft negotiating text was produced for discussion.

On November 18, Minister Maisa Rojas of Chile and State Secretary Jennifer Morgan of Germany, tasked with facilitating discussions on loss and damage finance, asked Parties to state their preference for one of the options outlined in the text, for what must be established at COP27.

Developing country blocs overwhelmingly supported Option 1 (see table below) which states:

A fund, as part of new and enhanced funding arrangements for assisting developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in responding to loss and damage, complementing these arrangements with financial support from other sources, funds, processes and initiatives, including outside the Convention and the Paris Agreement.

Many groups such as ABU (Argentina, Brazil, Urguguay) asked for the deletion of the second part, where sources outside of the Convention are mentioned.

Pakistan’s Climate Minister Sherry Rahman, speaking on behalf of G77 and China, said the bloc sees Option 1 as the only viable option. “This does not mean that we will adopt the text as is,” she added.

“A transitional committee must be established now to decide how the fund will be operationalised, and it should be established under the Financial Mechanism of the UNFCCC and PA. Options 2 and 3 off table for us,” she said.

“If this text had reflected the position of the vast majority of the world’s population, then that would have been a good starting point. We support Option 1, and want the establishment of a loss and damage fund at this COP to be an operating entity of the Financial Mechanism of the Convention, and of course the Paris Agreement,” Bangladesh said, speaking on behalf of the least developed countries.

Developed countries overwhelmingly supported Option 3 which calls for “new and enhanced funding arrangements to assist developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in responding to loss and damage, with a view to complementing these with financial support from other sources, funds, processes and initiatives, including outside the Convention and the Paris Agreement”.

Mapping of support for Loss and Damage outcome at COP 27

Option 1

Option 3

Other

Parties supporting

G77 and China, LDC, AOSIS, AILAC, African Group, ABU, Arab Group, LMDC, Maldives, Philippines, Jamaica, Palau, Ecuador, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Vanuatu

European Union, USA, Australia, EIG, Japan, United Kingdom

Tuvalu – aligned with AOSIS, supports EU proposal

Source: CSE from COP 27

A few caveats ran like a common thread throughout the speeches made by developed countries. The first is a focus on the “most vulnerable” countries — a position at odds with developing country blocs who have stated that a new fund must be open to “all developing countries”.

The second is the expansion of financial support from “all Parties in a position to do so”, and the private sector as well. And the third is a focus on “ambitious mitigation” needed to achieve the 1.5°C target.

On the issue of focusing on the most vulnerable countries, Sunita Narain, director-general of the Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi, told Down To Earth, “This is a clear attempt to create divisions and to make the poor fight the poor.”

“We have seen this for decades in climate change negotiations, and this makes sure that we do not get any outcome that will work for the poorest and most powerless in the world,” she added.

“What we want is a political commitment to establish a fund at COP27. We can work out the other nitty-gritties at a later stage — where this fund will be established and who the donor base will be,” a negotiator for small island nations told DTE on the condition of anonymity.

At the November 18 negotiations, Tuvalu, which is not a member of the G77, differed on its stance from the other island nations, offering support to a proposal made by the European Union on Friday.

The proposal states that the EU may agree to establish a “Loss and Damage Response Fund for the Most Vulnerable Countries” under Article 8 of the Paris Agreement.

It “needs to draw from a broad base of contributors, since this is a global effort”, according to their intervention on November 18. Stating that “all in a position to do so, should contribute to the fund “, the EU is referring to the fund inviting payments from countries like China, today’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

The proposal also links establishment of the fund to stronger mitigation commitments from all — strengthened NDCs, phasedown of unabated coal power, and reduction of methane emissions.

At the negotiation, India stated that the discussions should avoid the creation of new categories for countries, and the assignment of enhanced responsibilities to the developing world.

“We have to define the issue of the most vulnerable countries based on the question of who is responsible for the stock of GHGs in the atmosphere. Vulnerability is universal, but the differentiation is based on the contribution and responsibility, and in other words the liability. This is the principle that needs to be asserted. This is a clear attempt to create divisions and to make sure the negotiations go nowhere,” Narain told DTE.

Follow COP27 with Down To Earth

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