Climate conference strikes tentative deal for ‘loss and damage’ fund

The COP27 United Nations climate conference has reached a tentative deal for a “loss and damage” fund for nations on the front lines of climate change after declining to take up the issue for years.

The draft agreement would not be official until a broader COP27 agreement is ratified by the more than 200 participating nations in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, but it marks a major reversal from years past, when the wealthy nations that would fund such an effort refused to consider the issue.

The draft text outlines a proposed fund that would be open to all developing nations “that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.” The document is light on details as to the financial model and logistics of the fund, but the tentative agreement marks a major breakthrough for developing nations that have struggled to make their voices heard on the world stage on climate issues.

Nations in the global south and those on low-lying islands have long called for the creation of such a fund, which would pay for irreversible damages caused by the effects of climate change with money from wealthier, developed nations.

Although the U.S. has long been at the forefront of opposition to the idea, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said earlier this year the U.S. was open to it. Late this week, European Union (EU) delegates issued a proposal that European Commission Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans described as the EU’s “final offer.” Timmermans said any agreement would depend on an updated definition of a “developing” country. China, currently the world’s largest single emitter, is considered a developing country under the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Alpha Kaloga, a lead negotiator for Guinea at the summit, described the agreement on Twitter as a “unique moment” after “30 years of patience.”

As negotiations at the conference enter overtime, a number of other contentious issues are on the table as well, including an India-backed phasedown of unabated fossil fuel development that the EU has supported but nations such as Saudi Arabia are likely to oppose. The negotiations process encountered another hurdle late Friday when Kerry tested positive for COVID-19.

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