COP27: Climate deal draft weak on loss and damages, phasing out fossil fuels

The draft showed little progress on key issues like loss and damage funding, adaptation fund replenishment and a new collective quantified goal on climate finance

Livemint (with inputs from PTI)
First Published19 Nov 2022
Nakeeyat Dramani Sam, of Ghana, holds a sign that reads 'payment overdue' at the COP27 U.N. Climate Summit,
Nakeeyat Dramani Sam, of Ghana, holds a sign that reads ’payment overdue’ at the COP27 U.N. Climate Summit,(AP)

Closing its end, the formal draft of UN's 27th climate summit deal came out on Friday. Despite the opening of the summit focused on loss and damages, the draft showed little progress on the issue and other key issues like adaptation fund replenishment and a new collective quantified goal on climate finance.

The formal draft omitted references to the need for rich countries to achieve "net-negative carbon emissions by 2030" and their disproportionate consumption of the global carbon budget, both of which were points that India and other poor and developing countries emphasised throughout the summit in Egypt. It also failed to mention India's call for the phase-down of all fossil fuels.

The 20-page "non-paper" or informal draft was published by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on Thursday at the climate change conference COP27. The 10-page draft document is an updated version of that document.

A rapid and significant reduction in emissions is necessary to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to the "draft text on COP 27 overarching decision."

It "places a placeholder" for funding agreements to cover loss and damage, indicating that parties have not yet come to an agreement on the topic.

Loss and damage refer to the effects of climate change that people cannot adapt to or when there are options available but a community lacks the resources to use them.

A placeholder also exists for a new global climate finance target, also known as the new collective quantified goal on climate finance, starting at a minimum of USD 100 billion annually.

India and other poor and developing nations have long called for funding or a new fund to address loss and damage, such as the money required to relocate those displaced by floods.

The US in particular, along with other developed nations, have opposed this new fund out of concern that it will make them legally liable for significant climate change-related damages.

Frans Timmermans, the chief negotiator for the European Union, put forth a plan that linked loss and damage to emission reductions in an effort to keep the negotiations from falling apart.

Progress on this issue will determine how well the negotiations go. The proposal requests that nations peak emissions before 2025 and phase down all fossil fuels, not just coal, in return for the fund. The fund's specifics will be worked out the following year.

The proposal's requirement that large developing nations like China contribute to this fund because it would have a "broad funder base" is another crucial element.

The draft "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 recognizing the need for support towards just transitions".

India's request to phase out all fossil fuels, not just coal, goes unmentioned. The second-most discussed new proposal at the COP, the call for the gradual phase-down of all fossil fuels, was criticised by experts for not being included in the draft text.

Some also claimed that it appeared more like an Indian statement than a stance, and that it was a shrewd tactic to deflect criticism regarding the use of coal.

According to reports, US climate envoy John Kerry said on Thursday that the proposal would be supported as long as it focuses on "unabated oil and gas."

The draft reiterates that in order to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, greenhouse gas emissions must be rapidly, significantly, and sustainably reduced. This includes cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 45 percent by 2030 compared to 2010 levels, reaching net zero by the middle of the century, and making significant cuts to other greenhouse gases.

A delivery schedule for the promised doubling of adaptation finance by 2025 is demanded. The amount of adaptation finance in 2019 was estimated to be around USD 20 billion annually. It would be close to the USD $40 billion mark with a doubled effort.

The draft agreement also expresses grave concern over the failure of developed countries to meet their 2020 goal of mobilising $100 billion annually.

In order to "address the shortfall to USD 100 billion since 2020," it is urged that they reach the goal.

The report mentions that the estimated amount of global climate finance for 2019–2020 was USD 803 billion.

This sum represents 31–32% of the annual investment required for the increase in the global temperature to proceed in a direction of 1.5–well-below 2 degrees Celsius.

"This level of climate finance is also below what one would expect in the light of the investment opportunities identified and the cost of failure to meet climate stabilization targets," it said.

The proposed cover text expresses appreciation to the parties who provided updated nationally determined contributions (NDCs). In August, India updated its NDCs and submitted them to the UNFCCC.

In order to increase contributions to achieving net zero emissions globally by or around mid-century, the formal draft also calls on parties to communicate new or updated long-term low-emission development strategies.

After accounting for various national circumstances, it is in accordance with the most current scientific knowledge and in line with the NDCs.

"It's good to see there's no backsliding on the words coming out of COP26 last year," said Dave Jones, global programmes lead at think tank Ember.

At the highest level, it upholds the commitment to continue working to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees, but it also gives nations until next November to revise their 2030 plans, according to Jones.

"Coal phase-down still stands. There is one step forward, which is that 'renewable energy' is mentioned three times, taking away the emphasis from other less desirable forms of 'low-carbon' or 'clean' energy, which is a positive development," Jones said.

"Renewable energy hasn't been mentioned in a COP cover decision since 2015.

(With inputs from PTI)

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