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COP27: An historic deal but the devil remains in the detail – and the delivery

Sharm el Sheik – As COP27 closes, campaigners from anti-poverty organization ONE have welcomed the historic decision to create a fund to address loss and damage – but urged this to be backed up with the investment needed to make this initiative a success.

The formation of the new Loss and Damage fund follows calls from campaigners, activists and political leaders from many of the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries. The fund provides hope for those living on the front lines of the climate crisis that financing will be made available to help them recover and rebuild in the aftermath of disasters. However, activists have warned that many questions about this fund remain unanswered, including who will be eligible to receive funds, who will pay, and how much money there will be. This means there are huge battles in the year ahead, but this is a well-earned starting point. 

In addition to progress on loss and damage, COP27 also saw the recognition of the role reforming multilateral development banks and international financial institutions can play in scaling up climate finance. 

Despite these wins, activists have voiced concerns that other major issues such as adaptation, climate finance, plans to lower emissions and the fight to stay under 1.5 degrees took a backseat, with potentially devastating costs. In particular, there has been significant criticism that the richest countries have still not offered a clear timeline or plan of action for how they will deliver on their unmet promises to provide a total of US$600 billion in climate finance by 2025. Additionally, there was no progress on adaptation finance, with little money pledged to the cause and a failure to include the previous promise to double the finance for adaptation in the agreement. Activists have also decried attempts by some high-income countries to disregard the principles of equity and climate justice enshrined in the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement while still failing to meet past promises on climate finance.

Serah Makka, Executive Director for Africa at the ONE Campaign, said: “As the World’s population passed 8 billion this week, the world needed this summit to lay the foundations for a viable and sustainable future for everyone who lives here. All 8 billion of us are in the same boat and the seas are rising around it.”

“In this context the historic creation of a fund to finally address Loss and Damage could be a vital step forward in protecting the most vulnerable countries from the devastating effects of a climate crisis to which they contributed the least. However, the devil remains in the detail to deliver this vital new initiative. The world needs promises that actually deliver. There is a real risk that progress will be undermined if wealthy nations do not back this up with the real investment needed to make the fund a success.”

“We are now seeing the devastating effects of the climate crisis – not least as the renewed threat from hunger and famine wreaks havoc across the most vulnerable parts of our continent. We must not waste this opportunity to tackle this injustice and ensure that those most at risk from this crisis receive the support they need to tackle it. Ultimately the whole world benefits when every country can tackle this crisis.”

Adenike Oladosu, climate activist, Ecofeminist and founder of ILeadClimate, said: “Firstly, including loss and damage in the agenda of the COP should have been taken decades ago – it should not be seen as a big deal now. The big deal lies in how committed countries truly are to this agenda – because we keep hearing promises but are yet to see any real action.” 

“The climate finance pledged by global North countries in this COP is not enough to deal with the loss and damage in Nigeria alone, not to talk about Africa entirely. I really feel that when we look at the outcomes we cannot call this the Africa COP, because it has failed to speak to our current reality or the need for urgent action. Agreeing on loss and damage without phasing out fossil fuels is like no work done. If we don’t phase out fossil fuels then we will keep seeing greater loss and damage. We keep solving the multiplier effect of climate change which is loss and damage but the root cause we aren’t solving yet. It makes climate justice impossible.”