World Climate Conference: Yes to pot of money to compensate for climate damage

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Climate conference decides compensation for damage – Sommaruga criticizes “oil and gas lobby”

For the first time, the climate conference in Egypt agreed on a pot of money to compensate for climate damage in poorer countries. In terms of climate protection, however, the COP27 was not a success, summed up Federal Councilor Simonetta Sommaruga.

At the climate conference in Egypt, the world community agreed for the first time on a pot of money to compensate poor countries for climate damage.

key stone

The representatives of around 200 countries approved the new fund on Sunday. For three decades, poorer countries have been demanding money for climate damage. A delegation from Switzerland also took part in the climate conference in Egypt, which has been going on for two weeks. Federal Councilor Simonetta Sommaruga said in an initial reaction that she posted on Twitter on Sunday that there was more help for the “most vulnerable countries that are suffering the most from climate change”:

When it comes to concrete measures “such as the global phase-out of coal and the move away from subsidies for fossil fuels”, the conference was not a success, criticized Sommaruga: “Once again, large emitters and the strong oil and gas lobby have blocked it.”

According to the paper, the inevitable consequences of global warming, such as increasingly frequent droughts, floods and storms, but also rising sea levels and desertification, are to be cushioned. The question was the biggest point of contention throughout the two-week conference in Sharm-el-Sheikh, which was extended by around 36 hours.

Central questions still open

In the end, the states agreed on a work program for the next four years. “However, this does not expressly oblige the countries with the highest greenhouse gas emissions,” writes the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) in a statement on Sunday. “Switzerland regrets this decision and will work to ensure that these countries also make their contribution.”

For the most vulnerable countries, on the other hand, a new fund was approved at the 27th World Climate Conference (COP27) to support them in dealing with the damage caused by climate change. Switzerland welcomes the additional help “in principle”, writes the Bafu. But: “Central questions about the fund still have to be clarified.”

For example, the resolution does not mention any sums for the new compensation fund or who exactly should pay in. Developing countries that are particularly at risk are to be favoured. The EU in particular had insisted on this limitation.

The US initially blocked the issue, while the group of more than 130 developing countries known as the G77 built pressure along with China. After initial reluctance, the European Union finally changed its mind.

Ani Dasgupta, President of the US think tank World Resources Institute, nevertheless spoke of a “historic breakthrough”. The fund will be a lifebelt “for poor families with destroyed homes, farmers with ruined fields and islanders who have been driven from their ancestral homes”. At the same time, representatives of developing countries left without clear commitments on how the money pot would be overseen.

3.3 billion people at risk

According to the World Resources Institute, more than 3.3 billion people worldwide live in areas that are particularly vulnerable to climate change.

In the final declaration, the states are also asked to improve their largely inadequate climate protection plans by the next climate conference at the latest. This will take place in the United Arab Emirates at the end of 2023. The improvements remain voluntary, there is no obligation.

Environmental organizations react soberly – and call on Switzerland to act

“Insufficient”, “below expectations”, “completely outdated”: environmental organizations reacted extremely cautiously on Sunday to the final declaration that was still found at the world climate summit in Sharm-el-Sheikh.

For the WWF, the new climate fund is “a minimum consensus, nothing more”. Otherwise, the climate conference was “disappointing”. For Greenpeace, Swiss climate policy is “completely outdated”. Their delegation at COP27 advocated keeping the 1.5-degree upper limit and the goal of making all financial flows more climate-friendly on the agenda. At the same time, the country itself is “anything but on course” when it comes to climate protection.

“Switzerland is shooting itself in the foot with its hesitation and hypocrisy on climate issues,” climate expert Geord Klingler is quoted as saying in the statement. Because equal cooperation between countries is “the key to protecting our natural foundations of life,” according to Greenpeace.

But the WWF can still gain something from COP27. Even if the negotiation results had to be described as “minimal and insufficient”, this does not necessarily apply to the rest of the climate conference. Providers of innovations, project developers and financiers always come together at the event. This often results in concrete climate protection projects. “That gives hope,” according to the WWF.

The conference, to which 34,000 participants traveled to the Red Sea, went into overtime on Friday evening. On Saturday night, after sluggish and sometimes chaotic processes in negotiating circles, unrest broke out. It was feared that the conference might end without an agreement.

One of the controversial aspects of the issue is China’s role. The country, which takes first place in the emission of climate-damaging emissions, wants to continue to be treated as a developing country in international climate protection.

After tough deliberations, the breakthrough finally followed early on Sunday morning in Sharm-el-Sheikh. UN Secretary-General António Guterres called the new climate damage fund an important step towards justice. “Certainly that is not enough, but it is an urgently needed signal to rebuild lost trust.” (dpa/sat/wap)

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