COP27. Potential agreement raises hope but lacks certainty

Negotiations at the United Nations climate conference (COP27) have reached a potential agreement for the creation of a compensation fund for poorer countries that are victims of climate conditions aggravated by pollution from rich nations.

The announcement raises hopes that the 27th international climate conference, which this morning seemed on the verge of failure, can succeed.

“Better to get no deal than to get a bad deal,” European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said this morning.

“We are concerned about some of the things we have seen and heard in the last 12 hours,” he said, adding that the Europeans’ goal is to keep the global warming limit at 1.5 degrees Celsius (C), the most ambitious goal of the Paris agreement.

Oil and gas remain

The Egyptian presidency, criticized for the slow pace of the negotiations, did, however, eventually publish a long-awaited draft final text earlier this afternoon.

The proposal will still have to be discussed by negotiators from which 200 countries gathered in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, but basically reaffirms the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to an average temperature “well below 2°C” compared to the pre-industrial era and, if possible, stay at 1.5°C.

The text highlights that the impacts of climate change will be much less significant if the variation is 1.5°C and shows the importance of “continuing efforts” to respect this limit.

Regarding energy, the agreement calls for an end to “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies,” but does not promise to abandon oil or gas.

The text also reaffirms the goal of phasing out coal-fired power plants — a target set last year in Glasgow — but now adds a call to accelerate the development of renewable energy during this decade.

Hope for offsets

This conference, which was supposed to end Friday night, was long without consensus on the compensation to be given to countries already suffering damage from climate change, but the text puts forward a proposal on the issue.

The document proposes establishing “new forms of financing to help developing countries” to “mobilize new and additional resources.”

In addition, it adds an emblematic demand for poor countries highly exposed to climate change: the “establishment of a loss and damage response fund,” whose operation and financing will have to be worked out by a “transitional committee” by COP28, to be held in the United Arab Emirates at the end of 2023.

The issue of damage already caused by climate change is more than ever at the center of debates following the historic floods that recently hit Pakistan and Nigeria.

The ‘facilitators’ of this ‘dossier’ at the center of North-South friction have published a draft resolution with three options, one of which results in the creation of a fund whose exact functioning is to be determined later.

The option was deemed, on Friday, “acceptable with some changes” by Sherry Rehman, the Pakistani Minister for Climate Change and current chair of the powerful G77 (developing countries) + China negotiating group.

Risk of total decontrol

Rich countries have resisted the idea of dedicated funding for years, but the European Union set a precedent on Thursday by accepting the principle of a “loss and damage response fund” reserved for “the most vulnerable” with “a broad base of contributors,” hinting that China, which has become considerably richer over the past 30 years, should contribute as well.

But neither China nor the United States has disclosed its position yet.

The current commitments of the various countries are far from meeting the target of a 1.5°C temperature increase over the pre-industrial era.

According to UN analyses, the agreements allow, at best, to limit warming to 2.4°C by the end of the century, which puts humanity at risk of reaching irreversible tipping points and causing the climate to go completely out of control.