Government ministers and negotiators from nearly 200 countries finally secured an agreement Sunday aimed at keeping a critically important global heating target alive.
The new political deal reaffirms efforts to limit global temperature rise to the crucial temperature threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and the creation of a new “loss and damage” fund that would compensate poor nations that are victims of extreme weather worsened by climate change.
The two-week-long COP27 climate summit took place in Egypt’s Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh against a backdrop of increasing extreme weather events, geopolitical conflicts and a deepening energy crisis.
Delegates struggled to build consensus on an array of issues, even as a flurry of U.N. reports published ahead of the conference made clear just how close the planet is to irreversible climate breakdown.
The scale of division between climate envoys saw talks run beyond Friday’s deadline, with campaigners accusing the U.S. of playing a “deeply obstructive” role by blocking the demands of developing countries. The final agreement was reached in the early hours of Sunday morning following tense negotiations throughout the night, with many delegates exhausted by the time the deal was announced.
Some of the major sticking points included battles over whether all fossil fuels or just coal should be named in the decision text and whether to set up a “loss and damage” fund for countries hit by climate-fueled disasters.
The highly divisive and emotive issue of loss and damage dominated the U.N.-brokered talks and many felt the success of the conference hinged on getting wealthy countries to agree to establish a new fund.
The summit made history as the first to see the topic of loss and damage funding formally make it onto the COP27 agenda. The issue was first raised by climate-vulnerable countries 30 years ago.
Lifting hopes of a breakthrough on loss and damage thereafter, the European Union said late Thursday that it would be prepared to back the demand of the G-77 group of 134 developing nations to create a new reparations fund.
The proposal was welcomed by some countries in the Global South, although campaigners decried the offer as a “poison pill” given the bloc said it was only willing to provide aid to “the most vulnerable countries.”
Rich countries have long opposed the creation of a fund to address loss and damage and many policymakers fear that accepting liability could trigger a wave of lawsuits by countries on the frontlines of the climate emergency.