“The fact that it has been adopted as an item on the agenda is a testament to progress and to parties having a mature and constructive attitude to it,” said Simon Stiell, the UN’s top climate official.
“This is a difficult field. It has been floating for over thirty years,” he said. “I believe it bodes well.”
The decision was also welcomed by civil society groups.
“Finally, providing funding to address losses and damage from climate impacts is on the agenda of the UN climate negotiations,” said Ani Dasgupta, president of the World Resources Institute.
But he warned that participants “have one more marathon ahead of them before countries smooth out a formal decision on this pivotal issue.”
German climate envoy Jennifer Morgan, who led negotiations on the issue with Chile ahead of talks, said the agreement could also help negotiators make “serious progress” on emissions reductions.
The outgoing chair of the talks, British official Alok Sharma, said countries had made significant progress at their last meeting in Glasgow in maintaining the goal of limiting global warming to 1 by the end of the century. .5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit).
However, experts say the chances of meeting that goal, agreed in the 2015 Paris climate agreement, are quickly slipping. Temperatures around the world have already risen by about 1.2 C (2.2 F) since pre-industrial times
Sharma warned that other global crises meant international efforts to curb climate change “were plagued by global headwinds”.
“(Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s brutal and illegal war in Ukraine has led to multiple global crises, energy and food insecurity, inflationary pressures and mounting debt,” Sharma said. “These crises have exacerbated existing climate vulnerabilities and the scars of the pandemic.”
“As challenging as our present moment is, doing nothing is nearsighted and can only delay the climate catastrophe,” Sharma said. “We need to find the ability to focus on more than one thing at a time.”
“How many more wake-up calls does the world really need for world leaders,” he said, referring to recent devastating floods in Pakistan and Nigeria, and historic droughts in Europe, the United States and China.
His successor, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, said Egypt “will spare no effort” to make the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting a success and achieve the goals of the Paris agreement.
In an opening speech, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Hoesung Lee, said countries have “a generational chance to save our planet and our livelihoods”.
Reducing emissions, however, is only part of the job. Scientists and campaigners say the world also needs to do more to adapt to the unavoidable effects of global warming.
The head of the UN Migration Office on Sunday urged the international community to mobilize human and financial resources to tackle growing climate migration.
António Vitorino told The Associated Press that millions of people around the world are “already suffering the effects of natural disasters and climate change in their daily lives.”
“We have little time to intervene,” Vitorino said. “The international community must mobilize the expertise, human resources but also financial resources to support those already severely affected by climate change today.”
Vitorino, director-general of IOM, said the world needs to double its current $100 billion funding for adaptation, especially in regions and communities affected by the rapidly changing climate.
“If we don’t focus on solutions for the future,” he said. “We will leave behind a dramatic humanitarian crisis in the future (which will) eat millions and millions of people in the world,” he said.
More than 40,000 participants have signed up for the talks this year, reflecting the sense of urgency as severe weather events around the world affect many people and cost billions of dollars in repairs. Organizers say about 110 world leaders will be in attendance, many of them speaking at a high-level event on November 7-8, with US President Joe Biden expected to arrive later in the week.
But many top figures, including Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, weren’t planning to attend, raising doubts as to whether the talks in Egypt could lead to major deals to cut emissions without two of the world’s leaders. biggest polluters.
Rights groups again criticized Egypt for limiting protests and intensifying surveillance during the summit, highlighting the case of Alaa Abdel-Fattah, a prominent imprisoned pro-democracy activist. Abdel-Fattah’s aunt, award-winning novelist Ahdaf Soueif, said he went on “full hunger strike” on Sunday and stopped drinking water at 10 a.m. local time.
Associated Press writers Kelvin Chan, Seth Borenstein and Samy Magdy contributed to this report.