COP27 opens with rallying call for rich countries to pay

The COP27 summit brings together delegates from nearly 200 countries in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh to discuss how to tackle the climate crisis.

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SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — Senior officials have kicked off the work of the UN’s flagship climate conference by urging wealthy countries to finally fix their broken $100 billion promise, as the burning issue of reparations was adopted for the first time on the official agenda.

The COP27 summit, which officially opened on Sunday, sees delegates from nearly 200 countries gather in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh to discuss how to tackle the climate crisis.

Climate finance, as it has done since the first UN climate conference in 1995, will once again play a central role.

It follows a series of stunning extreme weather events around the world. For example, in the past few months alone, a third of Pakistan was completely submerged by historic floods, Nigeria recorded its worst flooding in a decade and China suffered its most intense and sustained heat wave ever. recorded.

“I fully recognize the magnitude of the challenge that still lies ahead,” Alok Sharma, a British lawmaker and last year’s COP26 president, said on Sunday as he addressed participants in the UN-brokered talks. .

“We are not currently on a path that keeps 1.5 within reach. And while I understand that leaders around the world have faced competing priorities this year, we need to be clear; however difficult our current moment may be , inaction is myopic and can only postpone 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 do world leaders really need?”

“We need to find the ability to focus on more than one thing at a time. How many more wake-up calls do world leaders really need?” Sharma said at the opening ceremony of COP27.

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The 1.5 degree Celsius limit is the ideal temperature threshold assigned in the 2015 Paris Agreement. It is recognized as a crucial global goal because beyond this level, so-called tipping points become more likely . These are thresholds at which small changes can lead to dramatic changes in Earth’s entire life support system.

“I will do everything in my power to support our Egyptian friends and the UK is here to deliver ambitious results across the board, including on mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage,” declared Sharma as he handed over the presidency of the COP to the Egyptian Sameh Shoukry.

“We know we have reached a point where finance makes or breaks the work program that we have in front of us,” he added. “So while I would highlight some of the progress on the $100 billion, I hear the criticisms and agree that more needs to be done by governments and multilateral development banks.”

Losses and damages on the agenda for the first time

Southern countries will seek reassurance in Egypt that the $100 billion climate finance commitment by rich countries in 2009 to help low-income countries mitigate and adapt to the climate emergency will finally be respected.

“The current mobilization of efforts raises many concerns,” Egyptian Shoukry said on Sunday, according to a translation.

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“The $100 billion per year commitment has yet to be implemented. Additionally, the funding currently available is focused on reducing emissions, not adaptation efforts – [and] most funding is loan-based,” he continued.

Low-income countries, already burdened with debt, have repeatedly called for a shift to grant-based financing rather than more loans.

“I believe you agree with me when I say we don’t have the luxury to continue like this. We need to change our approach to this existential threat,” Shoukry added.

“I think you agree with me when I say we don’t have the luxury to continue like this. We need to change our approach to this existential threat,” said Egyptian Sameh Shoukry.

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The push for the $100 billion funding pledge to be fulfilled comes amid broader calls for wealthy countries to compensate vulnerable nations as it becomes harder for many to live. safe on a warming planet.

Climate reparations, sometimes referred to as “loss and damage” payments, are expected to largely dominate the COP27 talks. These payments refer to the destructive effects of the climate crisis that countries cannot defend themselves against because the risks are either unavoidable or they cannot afford them.

Indeed, for the very first time, the subject of financing loss and damage has been officially included on the agenda of COP27. The issue was first raised by climate-vulnerable countries 30 years ago.

“We don’t want to be here demanding funding for our response to loss and damage,” said a spokesperson on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, a group of 39 small island and coastal developing states located mainly in the Caribbean and South Pacific.

“We don’t want to be treated like you’re doing us a favor by adding an agenda item or creating a voluntary fund,” they added.

“AOSIS is here to agree on the establishment of a new Loss and Damage Response Fund at COP27 that will be operational by 2024. We are here so we can return home and not become displaced by the climate in your home.”

The UN sees three essential lines of action

Shoukry’s comments follow a flurry of reprimanding reports from the UN and World Meteorological Organization in recent days.

The United Nations Environment Program said late last month that there was “no credible pathway” in place to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius. A separate UN report warned that the world was “far from meeting” its targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, with current plans predicting a rise in global temperatures of 2.5 degrees Celsius.

Meanwhile, the WMO said the amount of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide in Earth’s atmosphere reached record levels last year. These are the three greenhouse gases responsible for trapping heat in the atmosphere and causing global warming.

On Sunday, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell urged climate envoys around the world to focus on three key lines of action at COP27. He also stressed the need for high-income countries to financially support countries on the front lines of the climate emergency.

“First, we need to demonstrate this transformational change toward implementation,” Stiell said. “Every corner of human activity must align with our Paris agreement to pursue efforts to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.”

“The second line of action, we need to cement progress on these critical work streams: mitigation, adaptation, finance and – most importantly – loss and damage,” Stiell said.

“Finally, the third line of action, we must improve the implementation of the principles of transparency and accountability throughout the process.”

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