Touted as the ‘COP of Action’, the Conference of Parties (COP27) at Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt, ended on a disappointing note after shining a glimmer of hope for developing nations. Climate talks at the UN overran by almost 3 days, the highest in COP history, which led to the creation of the first ever ‘Loss and Damage Fund (LDF)’.
The final implementation plan released by the UN, said, “It welcomes the consideration, for the first time, of matters relating to funding arrangements responding to loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, including a focus on addressing loss and damage.”
It further said it also welcomes the “adoption of decisions on matters relating to funding arrangements responding to loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change.”
Finer details on the LDF were however missing, especially regarding the funding bodies. The text said “institutional arrangements of the Santiago network for averting, minimising and addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change to enable its full operationalisation.”
No major economy supported setting up a fund, despite several South Asian countries clamouring for it. It was only the European Union which made a historic intervention on the penultimate day of the negotiations, agreeing to provide financial help to poor countries facing climate extremes.
India’s representative Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav welcomed the decision to establish the LDF. Addressing the concluding plenary, Yadav said, “You are presiding over a historic COP where agreement has been secured for loss and damage funding arrangements including setting up a loss and damage fund. The world has waited far too long for this. We congratulate you on your untiring efforts to evolve consensus.”
He said he also welcomes the inclusion of transition to sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption and production in our efforts to address climate change in the cover decision.
While India supported the final implementation plan, its key demand to include all fossil fuels in the ‘phase out’ was not considered. The Indian delegation, citing Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said there is a “need for phase down for all fossil fuels, in the context of a clean energy transition.”
The final text remained unchanged despite severe protests from developing nations. The final draft noted, “(It) encourages the continued efforts to accelerate measures towards the phase down of unabated coal power and phase out and rationalize inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, in line with national circumstances and recognising the need for support towards just transitions,”
Shruti Sharma, senior policy advisor at IISD, said, “It is disappointing that COP27 did not build on the COP26 statement to deliver a stronger message on the phaseout of fossil fuels. COP26 asked parties to, among other things, transition to low energy systems through the phase down of unabated coal phasedown.”
The negotiating text during Glasgow COP26 had also used a similar language with onus on coal and none on oil or gas.
Yadav, during his intervention at the plenary, also announced a work programme on “just transition”. “For most developing countries, just transition cannot be equated with decarbonisation, but with low-carbon development. Developing countries need independence in their choice of energy mix, and in achieving the sustainable development goals,” Yadav said.
Ulka Kelkar, director, climate programme, WRI India, said the “just transition” programme by the COP27 will be for countries like India that have a large workforce in fossil fuel dependent sectors.
She however added, “Just as the G20 communique made a strong statement against war, the final decision from COP27 could have made a powerful commitment in the current energy crisis to phase out all fossil fuels. Instead, it only called for a diversified energy mix, implicitly accepting the continued expansion of gas.”