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‘Loss, Damage’ Funding…A Climate Breakthrough Threatened by ‘Details’

‘Loss, Damage’ Funding…A Climate Breakthrough Threatened by ‘Details’

Tuesday, 8 November, 2022 - 10:15
A press conference for the "Climate Action Network" discussed the issue of “loss and damage” funding during COP27 (Asharq Al-Awsat)

COP27 President Sameh Shoukry has affirmed the success of negotiations on world countries adopting for the first time a climate agenda item on the most important issue of establishing a “loss and damage” fund.

Despite being labeled a breakthrough, the step will usher in complex discussions that will determine progress on the matter.

The expression “Loss and damage” refers to the costs incurred because of extreme weather events or climate impacts, such as rising sea levels.

There were constant demands to include the issue of “loss and damage” in COP summits that began in the early 1990s.

Major industrialized countries, however, repeatedly obstructed efforts to add the topic to COP agendas out of fear that it may lead to demands for billions of dollars in compensation for poorer countries.

Recent climate disasters - such as floods in Pakistan - gave a new impetus to demands for introducing “loss and damage” to discussions at the COP27 summit currently being held in Egypt.

Before the summit, Magdi Allam, Secretary-General of the Union of Arab Environmental Experts, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the COP27 Summit would achieve important breakthroughs due to the climate warning that nature raised this year to the world, represented by the severe weather phenomena witnessed by several countries.

Even if putting the discussion of “loss and damage” on the agenda is considered a breakthrough, the devil remains in the details.

Wael Abdel Moez, a researcher specializing in climate affairs at the University of Berlin, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “there is no agreement on describing the loss and damage that should be compensated.”

“There will also be disagreement over who will pay: Will the US pay the most, as the historically biggest polluter, or will it be China, which is the biggest polluter now?”

“Certainly, the tense Chinese-US relations will affect the possibility of resolving such issues,” said Moez.

The fact is, developed countries have not fulfilled their promises to provide $100 billion in climate finance annually by 2020. Moreover, they also failed to implement what was agreed upon in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

This has made developing and poor countries look for more practical solutions to finance climate “loss and damage.”

“One of the solutions proposed in the corridors of COP27 is to have the United Nations assume the responsibility,” Moez noted.

Some countries have also proposed inviting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to impose a profit tax on fossil fuel companies to raise funding.

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