UN climate negotiators ready to agree disaster relief fund, reports say

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Negotiators at the United Nations climate talks said on Saturday they had reached a potential breakthrough on the creation of a disaster fund to compensate poor countries suffering climate change damage exacerbated by rich countries’ carbon pollution.

Citing several international cabinet ministers, The The Bharat Express News reported on Saturday that an agreement had been reached on a “loss and damage” fund.

Poorer countries are often victims of climate catastrophes, despite having contributed little to pollution.

New Zealand’s Climate Minister James Shaw told the TBEN that both the poor countries who would get the money and the rich who would give it are on board.

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“There is an agreement on loss and damage,” said Maldives Environment Minister Aminath Shauna. “That means that for countries like ours, we will have the mosaic of solutions that we have been advocating for.”

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The low-lying Maldives and island nations are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis, and the UN notes that they often have little resilience to disasters.

Under the latest draft, the fund would initially draw on contributions from developed countries and other private and public sources, including international financial institutions.

While major emerging economies would not initially be required to contribute, that option remains on the table and will be negotiated for years to come.

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There would also be room for middle-income countries ravaged by climate disasters to receive aid.

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If an agreement is accepted, it still has to be approved unanimously later in the day.

China’s chief negotiator declined to comment on a potential deal.

The New York Times reported that a Biden administration official said the US is “in the process of signing a deal,” undoing decades of opposition.

China and the US are the two largest carbon emitters.

Following an agreement at the G-20 summit, the White House said climate envoys from the two powerful players resumed formal negotiations last week.

European negotiators told the TBEN they were ready to support the deal, but would not say so publicly until the entire package is approved.

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The Egyptian presidency proposed a new deal on Saturday and an agreement was reached within hours, although Norwegian Climate and Environment Minister Espen Barth Eide said it was not so much the Egyptians, but countries working together.

Other issues at the conference are still being worked out as negotiators embark on what they hope will be their final session. The COP27 summit was pushed past its scheduled finish on Friday as countries struggled to reach a consensus.

Reuters and The The Bharat Express News contributed to this report.