Dhe world climate conference in Egypt has agreed for the first time on a common pot of money to compensate for climate damage in poorer countries. The representatives of around 200 states decided on the new fund early on Sunday morning. However, the necessary approval of the final declaration was still pending.
According to the decision, the first plan is to set up a transitional commission to draw up recommendations. This will then be discussed at the next UN climate conference in Dubai at the end of 2023.
The aim is to cushion the inevitable consequences of global warming, such as increasingly frequent droughts, floods and storms, but also rising sea levels and desertification. The question was the biggest point of contention throughout the two-week conference in Sharm el Sheikh, which was extended by around 36 hours.
The decision does not mention any sums for the new compensation fund. The conflict was also postponed as to whether emerging countries with high emissions and strong economic power such as China should also be among the contributors. However, there is already talk of “further sources of finance” that are not defined in more detail.
Developing countries that are particularly at risk are to be favoured. The EU in particular had insisted on this limitation. The US initially blocked the issue, while the group of more than 130 developing countries known as the G-77 mounted pressure along with China. After initial reluctance, the European Union finally changed its mind.
Ani Dasgupta, President of the US think tank World Resources Institute, spoke of a “historic breakthrough”. The fund will be a lifebelt “for poor families with destroyed homes, farmers with ruined fields and islanders displaced from their ancestral homes.” At the same time, representatives of developing countries left without clear commitments on how the money pot would be overseen.
According to the World Resources Institute, more than 3.3 billion people worldwide live in areas that are particularly vulnerable to climate change.
Climate expert Jan Kowalzig from Oxfam Germany described the agreement as a “milestone” and “real success in the fight against climate change”. For years, such a pot of money was blocked by the rich countries for fear of being held responsible for causing the climate crisis. “The fact that the industrialized countries have finally moved was more than overdue given the devastation that the climate crisis is already wreaking in many of the poorer countries of the Global South,” he said.
Farewell to oil and gas is not addressed
In the evening, the negotiators from around 200 countries also had the official draft for a final declaration. In the eleven-page paper by the Egyptian conference leadership, all countries are calling for a gradual phase-out of coal. However, the demand of a number of states and climate activists to also stipulate the farewell to oil and gas is not taken up.
There were other new templates, among other things, on the climate targets in general and the intended work program for reducing emissions. The goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees is expressly confirmed. It also recognizes that this requires “immediate” and “sustainable” reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. These are expected to fall by 43 percent by 2030 compared to 2019 levels.
The draft work program also calls on states to tighten their emissions targets for the period up to 2030. However, it still contains a formulation that the EU has so far strictly rejected, according to which the program must not lead to new, stricter targets. However, the new wording is less rigorous than in a previous version. The goal of turning away from coal and generally from “inefficient” subsidies for fossil fuels is mentioned, as is the goal of expanding renewable energies.
China happy about climate dialogue with US
China’s climate envoy Xie Zhenhua has praised the first talks with his US counterpart John Kerry after the two countries resumed cooperation on climate policy as “constructive”. It had been agreed to “continue the formal talks, including personal meetings,” after the climate conference, he said on the sidelines of the world climate conference in Sharm El Sheikh.
At the same time, however, Xie highlighted ongoing differences with Western countries and dismissed the idea that China should no longer be considered a developing country, despite being the world’s second largest economy. This status is crucial when financing climate aid. The 2015 Paris Agreement “makes it very clear that the responsibility for providing finance (…) lies with the industrialized countries,” Xie emphasized.