By Philip Andrew Churm with AFP
The United Nations COP27 climate summit has approved the creation of a special fund to cover the damages suffered by vulnerable nations affected by global warming.
The two-week talks have switched from fears the whole process could collapse, to hopes of a major breakthrough on a fund for climate “loss and damage”.
Delegates applauded after the fund was adopted early on Sunday 20 November following days of marathon negotiations over the proposal.
Senior Coordinator of the African Group on Loss and Damage, Alpha Kaloga, said it was an important step.
“Today is a symbolic day, it is a symbolic day in terms of the impact that this decision will have on the future.
“Developing countries have been fighting for 30 years to have a fund, to have recognition of the losses and damages associated with climate change.
“Today, in the morning, when I left [the hotel] at 2am, I didn’t think we were going to get this deal. And there was understanding from everyone. The deal we have is a deal that reflects the collective will of all the countries.”
An informal coalition of “high ambition” countries called for strong language on cutting emissions, moving away from planet-heating fossil fuels and to reaffirm the 1.5C goal.
The European Union even threatened Saturday to walk out rather than having a “bad” decision.
The talks still need to approve a range of decisions and a final COP27 statement including a call for a “rapid” reduction of emissions in order to meet the ambitious goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels.
Tasneem Essop from the Climate Action Network said: “It is a huge achievement to get an agreement to establish loss and damage fund after 30 years of small island states vulnerable countries, developing countries, trying to get this on the agenda. Now, sitting here at the COP27 to get this agreed to, is the result of a collective struggle.”
Zambia’s Minister of Green Economy and Environment, Collins Nzovu: “Collins Nzovu, added: “Excited. Very, very excited. This is a very positive result from 1.3 billion Africans. Very exciting because for us, success in Egypt was going to be based on what we get from loss and damage.”
The deal on loss and damage originally struggled to make it onto the negotiation agenda.
Attention now turns to whether the summit will agree on a final statement.
Scientists say limiting warming to 1.5C is a far safer guardrail against catastrophic climate impacts, with the world currently far off track and heading for around 2.5C under current commitments and plans.