New global climate agreement signed at conference in Egypt


Climate remediation, or “loss and damage” financing, is a highly divisive and emotional issue seen as a fundamental issue of climate justice.

Sean Gallup | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Government ministers and negotiators from nearly 200 countries finally reached an agreement on Sunday to create a new fund to compensate poor countries for the “loss and damage” they are experiencing as a result of extreme weather, exacerbated by climate change.

The agreement, reached in the early hours of Sunday morning, also confirmed efforts to limit global temperature rise to the crucial temperature threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The two-week COP27 climate summit took place in Sharm el-Sheikh, a Red Sea resort town in Egypt, against a backdrop of increasing extreme weather events, geopolitical conflicts and a deepening energy crisis.

The delegates struggled to reach consensus on a range of issues, even as a deluge of UN reports released ahead of the conference highlighted just how close the planet is to an irreversible climate crisis.

Widespread divisions among climate envoys pushed talks past Friday’s deadline, with campaigners accusing the US of playing a “deeply obstructive” role in blocking developing countries’ demands. The final agreement was reached after tense negotiations throughout the night, with many delegates exhausted by the time the deal was announced at around 4am. local time.

Some of the main sticking points included the battle over whether to list all fossil fuels or just coal in the decision text and whether to create a “loss and damage fund” for countries affected by climate disasters.

The highly divisive and emotional issue of loss and damage dominated UN-brokered talks and many felt that the success of the conference depended on getting wealthy countries to agree to create a new fund.

The summit made history as the first to formally see the topic of loss and damage financing on the COP27 agenda. The issue was first raised 30 years ago by climate sensitive countries.

Hoping for a breakthrough on loss and damage afterward, the European Union said late on Thursday it would be ready to support the G-77 group’s demand of 134 developing countries to establish a new recovery fund.

The proposal was welcomed by some countries in the Global South, although campaigners decried the offer as a “poison pill” as the bloc said it was only willing to provide aid to “the most vulnerable countries”.

Wealthy countries have long resisted the creation of a fund to deal with loss and damage, and many policymakers fear that accepting liability could spark a wave of lawsuits from countries on the front lines of the climate crisis.

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