Breakthrough agreement reached at COP27 amidst pessimism

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Deal negotiated to provide 'loss and damage' funding for vulnerable countries hit hard by climate disasters.

The COP27 climate change conference ended with a breakthrough agreement to provide 'loss and damage' funding for vulnerable countries hit hard by climate disasters. It was the largest positive highlight to emerge from an event with despairingly few of them.

Compensation from rich nations culpable for the majority of climate change effects, to vulnerable nations that are being hit hardest by climate change has been a contentious issue for some time. With rich countries so far having failed to live up to earlier promises for funding, the agreement struck at COP27 marks a concrete step in that direction.

“This outcome moves us forward,” said Simon Stiell, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary. “We have determined a way forward on a decades-long conversation on funding for loss and damage – deliberating over how we address the impacts on communities whose lives and livelihoods have been ruined by the very worst impacts of climate change.”

The fact that the deal was concluded 40 hours over the deadline indicates that there is a lack of unity on the issue however, and there remain many operational items to organize and initiate.

Governments have agreed to establish a ‘transitional committee’ to make recommendations on how to operationalize both the new funding arrangements and the fund at COP28 next year, with the first meeting of the transitional committee expected to take place before the end of March 2023.

Beyond the deal however, pessimism emanated from certain leaders at the conference. Alok Sharma, president of last year's COP26, noted a distinct lack of ambition regarding coal and fossil fuels, and mentioned that the commitment to limit global warming to 1.5C "remains on life support".

UN Secretary-General António Guterres also lamented the lack of progress made at the event, saying that “We need to drastically reduce emissions now – and this is an issue this COP did not address”.

Next year's event is set to be held in Dubai from 30 November to 12 December 2023.

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