Pakistan hails ‘pivotal step’ as countries adopt COP27 deal with ‘loss and damage’ fund

Published November 20, 2022
<p>Ministers deliver statements during the closing plenary at the COP27 climate summit in Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, November 20. — Reuters</p>

Ministers deliver statements during the closing plenary at the COP27 climate summit in Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, November 20. — Reuters

Pakistan on Sunday welcomed the announcement that countries adopted a hard-fought final agreement at the COP27 climate summit that sets up a fund to help poor countries being battered by climate disasters.

After tense negotiations that ran through the night, the Egyptian COP27 presidency released the final text for a deal and simultaneously called a plenary session to quickly gavel it through.

The session first swiftly approved the text’s provision to set up a “loss and damage” fund to help developing countries bear the immediate costs of climate-fuelled events such as storms and floods.

But it kicked many of the most controversial decisions on the fund into next year, when a “transitional committee” would make recommendations for countries to then adopt at the COP28 climate summit in November 2023.

Those recommendations would cover “identifying and expanding sources of funding” — referring to the vexed question of which countries should pay into the new fund.

Calls by developing countries for such a fund have dominated the two-week summit, pushing the talks past their scheduled Friday finish. And after a pause requested by Switzerland to review the final text, negotiators gave no objections as COP27 President Sameh Shoukry rattled through the final agenda items.

By the time dawn broke over the summit venue in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, the deal was done.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif welcomed the development as the “first pivotal step towards the goal of climate justice”.

“It is up to the transitional committee to build on the historic development,” he said. The premier also thanked Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman and her team for their hard work.

He said the development was a “manifestation of excellent climate diplomacy that made this possible”.

Earlier this year, Pakistan was struck by devastating monsoon floods that left nearly a third of the country under water, affecting more than 30 million people.

Taking to Twitter, Rehman said that it had been a “long 30-year journey from demand to formation of the loss and damage fund for 134 countries”.

“We welcome today’s announcement and joint text hammered out through many nights. It’s an important first step in reaffirming the core principles of #climatejustice.”

She went on to say that now that the fund had been established, Pakistan looked forward “to it being operationalised, to actually become a robust body that is able to answer with agility to the needs of the vulnerable, the fragile and those on the frontline of climate disasters”.

“The announcement offers hope to vulnerable communities all over the world who are fighting for their survival from climate stress,” she said.

Rehman also specially thanked PM Shehbaz and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari for “checking in daily after they left Sharm El Sheikh to see where they needed to intervene to help the negotiations”.

“Such solid support kept many of us going just when we thought it’s touch and go,” she said.

FM Bilawal also hailed the “monumental achievement” for climate justice as he congratulated the Egyptian leadership on successfully holding the summit.

“Having experienced first-hand the scale and devastation of Pakistan’s floods, we travelled to the United Nations General Assembly to advocate for climate justice,” he said in a series of tweets.

“When I chaired Group of 77 at the UN, Pakistan’s proposal was unanimously adopted to demand loss and damage be part of COP27 agenda.

“In Egypt, we were happy to report that Pakistan’s proposal as G77 chair to include language on loss and damage on the agenda had achieved consensus. Upon conclusion of negotiations, we’ve sustained that consensus and also included necessary language on fund ND financial arrangement,” he said.

FM Bilawal went on to say that he spoke to US climate envoy John Kerry in Egypt and over the phone “once negotiations went into overtime”.

“Appreciated leadership on climate, requested support for G77+ demand on inclusion of financial arrangement to tackle loss and damage. Grateful we were able to reach a compromise,” he said.

The minister also thanked all the G77 members and China for their support, and recognised the efforts of the foreign affairs and climate change ministries.

He termed the development to be a win for climate justice and the developing world.

Momentous achievement: FO

The Foreign Office (FO) hailed the development as a “momentous achievement” for G77 members and China in a press release issued today.

The FO said that Pakistan’s catastrophic climate-induced funds earlier this year had “refocused” global attention to the critical issue of climate change.

“Pakistan, as Chair of the Group of 77 and China, galvanised support for establishment of the fund in COP27 in Sharm el Sheikh, first by having it placed on the Agenda of the Conference, and then pushing for a consensus agreement.

“The dedicated ‘Fund for Loss and Damage’ will address losses and damages in developing countries, such as Pakistan, which are particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change,” the FO said.

It added that Pakistan congratulated developing countries for their “exemplary solidarity and steadfastness” in pushing their case for the fund and also appreciated the understanding and cooperation of developed countries in “recognising the urgency to act on loss and damage”.

“We look forward to early operationalisation of the fund, with the hope that the fund would bridge a major gap in the climate finance architecture.

“As part of its climate diplomacy — given that we are one of the most climate-vulnerable countries — Pakistan would continue to constructively contribute to global climate change debate, negotiations and action,” the FO said.

Fossil fuel fizzle

The two-week summit has been seen as a test of global resolve to fight climate change — even as a war in Europe, energy market turmoil and rampant consumer inflation distract international attention.

Billed as the “African COP,” the summit in Egypt had promised to highlight the plight of poor countries facing the most severe consequences from global warming caused mainly by wealthy, industrialised nations.

Negotiators from the European Union and other countries had said earlier that they were worried about efforts to block measures to strengthen last year’s Glasgow Climate Pact.

“While progress on loss and damage was encouraging, it is disappointing that the decision mostly copy and pasted language from Glasgow about curbing emissions, rather than taking any significant new steps,” said Ani Desgupta, president of the non-profit World Resources Institute.

In line with earlier iterations, the approved deal did not contain a reference requested by India and some other delegations to phasing down use of “all fossil fuels”.

It instead called on countries to take steps toward “the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies,” as agreed at the COP26 Glasgow summit.

The draft also includes a reference to “low-emissions energy”, raising concern among some that it opened the door to the growing use of natural gas — a fossil fuel that leads to both carbon dioxide and methane emissions.

Norway’s Climate Minister Espen Barth Eide told reporters his team had hoped for a stronger agreement. “It does not break with Glasgow completely, but it doesn’t raise ambition at all,” he said.

“I think they had another focus. They were very focused on the fund,” he said.


Additional reporting by Naveed Siddiqui.

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