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ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

COP27 closed with ‘historic’ loss and damage deal, but critics say final agreement needed to go further


COP27 leaders giving standing ovation after the final agreement was signed Photo: UN Climate Change
COP27 closed with final agreement on a new fund for climate ‘loss and damage’ that will provide financial support to vulnerable nations hit hardest by the effects of climate change

Photo: UN Climate Change

After negotiations extended into the weekend at the end of COP27 last week, nearly 200 countries finally agreed to establish a new fund for climate ‘loss and damage’ that will provide financial support to vulnerable nations hit hardest by the effects of climate change. However, there was disappointment that no new commitments on phasing out fossil fuels and cutting greenhouse gas emissions were included in the Summit’s overarching agreement.

The new loss and damage fund will be geared towards developing nations that are particularly ‘vulnerable’ to the adverse effects of climate change, wording that aims to ensure wealthier developing countries such as China will not be beneficiaries of the fund. However, the devil is – of course – in the detail and much has yet to be agreed about the fund, including who will actually pay into it and how it will be administered.


While applauding development of a loss and damage fund, many felt the final COP27 Summit agreement did not go far enough, lacking ambition on reducing use of fossil fuels and curbing emissions.

Speaking at the closing plenary session at COP27, the UK’s Summit representative Alok Sharma said that while progress on loss and damage had been ‘historic’, it was not a moment for ‘unqualified celebration’. Although reiterating previous calls to accelerate ‘efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies', Sharma pointed out that the final Summit agreement lacked follow-through on the phase down of coal, let alone a clear commitment to any phase out of all fossil fuels. He concluded by stating that the pulse of the 1.5°C Paris Agreement target was still ‘weak’ and remained ‘on life-support’.


UN Secretary General António Guterres, too, expressed his disappointment, saying the final COP27 agreement needed a ‘giant leap’ in climate ambition as the planet was still ‘in the emergency room’.


European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans was also quite hard-hitting with his comment on the outcome. Noting that this was ‘the make or break decade’, he said that the agreement was ‘not enough of a step forward for people and planet’, stating: ‘It does not bring enough added efforts from major emitters to increase and accelerate their emissions cuts. It does not bring a higher degree of confidence that we will achieve the commitments made under the Paris Agreement and in Glasgow last year. It does not address the yawning gap between climate science and our climate policies.’


However, COP27 President Sameh Shoukry was more upbeat: ‘The work that we’ve managed to do here in the past two weeks, and the results we have together achieved, are a testament to our collective will, as a community of nations, to voice a clear message that rings loudly today, here in this room and around the world: that multilateral diplomacy still works… despite the difficulties and challenges of our times, the divergence of views, level of ambition or apprehension, we remain committed to the fight against climate change.’


All eyes will be on Dubai, United Arab Emirates, next year, to see what progress has been made on the loss and damage fund and what further climate commitments can be agreed when it plays host to COP28 in November 2023.


For more analysis of COP27 and its outcomes, see our analysis in next week’s issue of New Energy World.