Following two weeks of negotiations that felt doomed to go nowhere, the COP27 climate conference delivered a breakthrough deal to help developing nations cope with the often catastrophic effects of climate change. The Washington Post reports dignitaries agreed to create a “loss and damage fund” in the early hours of Sunday morning after two extra days of negotiations. The Alliance of Small Island States, an organization that includes countries whose very existence is threatened by climate change, called the agreement “historic.” However, as with the Glasgow Climate Pact that came out of last year’s COP26 conference, the consensus is that COP27 failed to deliver the action that is desperately needed to meet the demands of the current moment.
For one, the conference failed to see nations agree to new and stronger commitments to reduce their carbon emissions. According to The Post, China and Saudi Arabia were strongly against language calling for a phaseout of all fossil fuels, as were many African nations. Alok Sharma, the chair of COP26, said (via Phys.org) a clause on energy was "weakened, in the final minutes.”
The conference also left many of the most important details related to the loss and damage fund to be sorted out by a committee that will need to answer some difficult questions in the coming months. Among the issues that need to be decided on is how much the United States, historically the greatest emitter of greenhouse emissions globally, should pay out to vulnerable countries. The conference also ended without a clear commitment from China to pay into the fund.
The committee now has a year to draft recommendations for next year’s climate meeting in Dubai. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said governments took “an important step towards justice,” but fell short in pushing for the commitments that would ultimately protect the world’s most vulnerable people from the worst effects of climate change. "Our planet is still in the emergency room," Guterres said. "We need to drastically reduce emissions now and this is an issue this COP did not address."