In a first, loss funding to be on agenda of COP27

Updated on Nov 07, 2022 02:56 PM IST

The development took place after 48 hours of what COP27 president Sameh Shoukry of Egypt described to be “herculean informal negotiations” till early morning on Sunday to push the issue on the formal agenda.

Union minister for environment Bhupender Yadav inaugurates India Pavilion at COP27 organised on the theme of LiFE, Lifestyle for Environment, in Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday. (ANI Photo) PREMIUM
Union minister for environment Bhupender Yadav inaugurates India Pavilion at COP27 organised on the theme of LiFE, Lifestyle for Environment, in Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday. (ANI Photo)
ByJayashree Nandi

For the first time in 28 years since the adoption of the UN climate convention, 194 nations agreed to include loss and damage funding on the official agenda of the UN climate summit (COP27) being held from November 6 to 18 at Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt.

The development took place after 48 hours of what COP27 president Sameh Shoukry of Egypt described to be “herculean informal negotiations” till early morning on Sunday to push the issue on the formal agenda.

Finance for loss and damage is one of the main issues for India because of its vulnerability to climate change impacts. “This is an important development and it is something that India supports,” said a member of the Indian delegation who declined to be named.

In an interview to HT on November 4, union environment minister Bhupender Yadav had said the climate negotiations have not been able to mobilise or deliver funds for loss and damage. “These mechanisms are underfunded; accessing funding is cumbersome and time consuming; and most of the funding is for mitigation,” he said. “Adaptation funding is highly inadequate, and loss and damage funding is perhaps none at all.”

The agenda item was proposed by the G77 group of countries and China, but there was considerable push back from developed nations. The agenda item was introduced with some riders.

“Matters relating to funding arrangements responding to loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, including focus on addressing loss and damage” will have footnotes stating that the outcomes are without prejudice to consideration of similar matters in the future and that the issue is based on cooperation and facilitation and do not involve liability and compensation.

The discussion agenda on loss and damage will launch a process with a view to take a conclusive decision no later than 2024.

“It’s time we ensured we do not go beyond a point of no return to preserve this planet for future generations,” Shoukry said at a media briefing. “There have been reservations about the extent of responsibilities that might be entailed from the addition in an official manner of this agenda item.”

“The fact that loss and damage has been adopted as an agenda item demonstrates progress and parties have taken a mature and constructive attitude this time,” said Simon Stiell, UN climate chief.

“The inclusion of loss and damage finance in the agenda for COP27 has renewed the fight for justice for communities losing their homes, crops, and income,” said Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy at Climate Action Network International. “COP27 must agree to establish a Loss and Damage Finance Facility to help people recover from the impacts of climate crisis, such as intensifying floods, droughts and rising seas.”

“It’s however, worrying that there is no agenda on phase out of fossil fuels. It would have been critical for this year. Last year, there was some talk on phasing down coal but this time, we do not have fossil fuels on agenda,” he added.

Loss and damage refers to compensation for impacts of extreme climate change events and slow onset events like sea level rise or glacial retreat, while adaptation refers to adjustments in ecological, social or economic systems in response to actual or expected climatic impacts, according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The G77+China had proposed for a Glasgow Facility on loss and damage last year. The Glasgow pact was weak on because it spoke only of enhancing understanding of how approaches to averting, minimizing and addressing loss and damage can be improved.

This year however, the issue has gained momentum because COP27 is being held in Africa, which is dealing with severe climate impacts. Earlier in the year, Pakistan recorded a rare flood event that displaced lakhs of citizens and India, along with parts of South Asia recorded a rare spring heatwave that led to at least 90 deaths, triggered an extreme glacial lake outburst flood in northern Pakistan and forest fires in India, particularly in the hill states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. Extreme heat reduced India’s wheat crop yields, causing the government to stop wheat exports; and shortage of coal led to power outages.

“With climate impacts devastating communities all around us, the international community can no longer avert its eyes from the deadly and costly consequences of a warming world,” said Ani Dasgupta, president and CEO of the World Resources Institute, a think tank. “Today, countries cleared a historic first hurdle toward acknowledging and answering the call for financing to address increasingly severe losses and damages.”

The other critical issues on the formal COP27 agenda include matters related to adaptation, including adaptation fund, long-term climate finance, including new collective quantified goal on climate finance (post 2025); matters related to capacity building and development and transfer of technology.

The opening of COP27 on Sunday sets the tone for what’s to come during the next two weeks. HT had reported that COP27 is an important summit from the perspective of developing countries because it is being held in Africa and developing nations are negotiating on significant but highly debated issues this time.

Since COP26 in Glasgow, only 29 out of 194 countries came forward with tightened national plans. The United Nations Environment Programme’s Emissions Gap report said on October 27 that the updated pledges submitted since COP26 in Glasgow take less than 1% off projected 2030 greenhouse gas emissions, whereas 45% cut in emissions is needed for limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.

Meanwhile, environment minister Yadav inaugurated India Pavilion at Sharm El Sheikh on Sunday. The pavilion theme is LiFE - Lifestyle for Environment, first proposed by Prime Minister Nreandra Modi in Glasgow.

Yadav also felicitated young scholars from India who worked on the LiFE project. LiFE is India’s flagship programme on climate change to encourage individual and collective action to reduce emissions, save energy and cut down on waste.

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