A fraught UN climate summit yesterday wrapped up with a landmark deal on funding to help vulnerable countries cope with the devastating effects of global warming — but there was also anger over its failure to push further ambition on cutting emissions.
The two-week talks in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, which at times appeared to teeter on the brink of collapse, delivered a major breakthrough on a fund for climate “loss and damage.”
Pakistani Minister of Climate Change Sherry Rehman said that COP27 “responded to the voices of the vulnerable, the damaged and the lost of the whole world.”
“We have struggled for 30 years on this path, and today in Sharm el-Sheikh this journey has achieved its first positive milestone,” she told the summit.
Tired delegates applauded when the loss and damage fund was adopted as the sun came up yesterday, following almost two extra days of negotiations that went round-the-clock.
However, jubilation over that achievement was countered by stern warnings.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the UN climate talks had “taken an important step towards justice” with the loss and damage fund, but fell short in pushing for the urgent carbon-cutting needed to tackle global warming.
“Our planet is still in the emergency room,” Guterres said. “We need to drastically reduce emissions now, and this is an issue this COP did not address.”
A final COP27 statement covering the broad array of the world’s efforts to grapple with a warming planet held the line on the aspirational goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C from pre-industrial levels.
It also included language on renewable energy for the first time, while reiterating previous calls to accelerate “efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.”
That failed to go much further than a similar decision from last year’s COP26 meeting in Glasgow on key issues around cutting planet-heating pollution.
European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans said the EU was “disappointed,” adding that more than 80 nations had backed a stronger emissions pledge.
“What we have in front of us is not enough of a step forward for people and planet,” he said.
“It doesn’t bring enough added efforts from major emitters to increase and accelerate their emission cuts,” said Timmermans, who 24 hours earlier had threatened to walk out of the talks rather than getting a “bad result.”
Alok Sharma, who chaired COP26 in Glasgow, said a passage on energy had been “weakened, in the final minutes.”
German Minister of Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock said she was frustrated that the emissions cut and fossil fuel phase-out were “stonewalled by a number of large emitters and oil producers.”
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