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A fund for the vulnerable


It’s excitement everywhere as the world’s biggest sporting event kicked off in Qatar at a stunning opening ceremony. In the thrilling 29-day festival, football magicians will mesmerise the fans with the ball in the final at Lusail Stadium on December 18.

While many have stakes in their team winning, there's a lot of hype on Brazil and England this year. The latter has already started off their campaign with a dominant victory of 6-2 against Iran. No matter who wins, the quadrennial football competition is always a thrill to follow!

Alongside the enthusiasm on Qatar sporting grounds, what is described as “an important step towards justice” has emerged from Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh where countries at the latest UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) reached a historic agreement on establishing a funding mechanism to compensate vulnerable nations for ‘loss and damage’ from climate-induced disasters.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the UN climate talks had "taken an important step towards justice" with the loss and damage fund. Still, he said, “clearly this will not be enough, but it is a much-needed political signal to rebuild broken trust”.

With around 1.2C of warming so far, the world has seen a cascade of climate-driven extremes, shining a spotlight on the plight of developing countries faced with escalating disasters, as well as an energy and food price crisis and ballooning debt.

Dubbed as a significant achievement, Molwyn Joseph, chair of the Alliance of Small Island States, said, “The agreements made at COP27 are a win for our entire world. We have shown those who have felt neglected that we hear you, we see you, and we are giving you the respect and care you deserve.”

A security personnel stands guard next to the COP27 sign during the closing plenary at the climate summit in Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, on Sunday. - Reuters
A security personnel stands guard next to the COP27 sign during the closing plenary at the climate summit in Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, on Sunday. - Reuters

Now, what’s this loss and damage fund?

We all know that the natural and human systems are pushed beyond their ability to adapt to climate change such as sea level rise, increasing temperatures, ocean acidification, glacial retreat and related impacts, salinisation, land and forest degradation, loss of biodiversity, desertification.

At COP 19, the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage was established. Since then, it has been serving as the main catalyser under the UNFCCC process. The fund will focus on what can be done to support the loss and damaged resources.

Now for the first time countries and groups, including longtime holdouts like the United States and the EU, have agreed to establish a fund for nations vulnerable to climate disasters. However, there is no clarity on when the fund will be finalised and become operational, and how exactly it would be funded.

The creation of the fund was also one of the key demands of activists attending the summit.

At the same time, many countries decried COP27’s failure to push mitigation further and said some countries were trying to roll back commitments made in the Glasgow Climate Pact for limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Reuters quoted Germany's climate secretary Jennifer Morgan having said, "we went with what the agreement was here because we want to stand with the most vulnerable."

The European Union’s Climate Chief Frans Timmermans said the EU was “disappointed” with the final outcome of the summit as “what we have in front of us is not enough of a step forward for people and planet ... we should have done much more”.

A number of nations, including China and Saudi Arabia, blocked a key proposal to phase out all fossil fuels, not just coal. The COP27 text largely repeats the same wording on fossil fuel asking countries to accelerate "efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies."

Another section of the COP27 deal dropped the idea of annual target renewal in favour of returning to a longer five-year cycle set out in the Paris pact!

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