‘Historic’ moment as climate compensation will be discussed for the first time at UN talks

For the first time in history, the taboo issue of compensating vulnerable countries for irreparable damage caused by climate breakdown will be formally debated at a United Nations climate summit.

That the financing of so-called “loss and damage” – those climate impacts beyond the realm of human adaptation – have been placed on the agenda of COP27 is a decisive moment for the talks.

Vulnerable nations, which generally emit the least but are the most affected, have been pushing the issue of offsetting for years.

But rich, polluting countries have resisted this for fear of exposing them to endless liability and opening the floodgates on other issues, such as slavery.

The frantic last-minute talks on Saturday continued late into the night and into Sunday, with rich countries accused of ‘bullying’ poor countries over the agenda item, delaying the start of the Sharm el-Sheikh conference on the Red Sea.

COP President Sameh Shoukry, whose role is to build consensus and guide the talks, said the issue is now recognized by the “vast majority of the international community as a very fundamental issue”.

In the space of a year, we have all seen “the consequences of climate change that have affected millions of citizens around the world,” he told reporters at a press conference on Sunday.

A year of climate devastation

In the year since COP26 in Glasgow, climate change fueled mounting losses around the world.

Of the death of fish and crop failures in the middle drought in Europeto the loss of hundreds of lives, homes and livelihoods during severe flooding in pakistan.

Matthew Samuda, minister for Jamaica’s delegation to COP27, said the decision was “a step in the right direction, but the devil will be in the details”. Jamaica is extremely vulnerable to climate change, facing rising seas, extreme heat, high risk of drought and turbocharged hurricanes.

Tina Stege, climate envoy for the Marshall Islands, which is being plagued by rising sea levels, told Sophy Ridge on Sunday that they were already “discussing where and when people should move, to other islands, to higher lands – which, by the way, we don’t have”.

Ines Benomar of climate think tank E3G called it “historic” that almost 200 countries have finally agreed to put loss and damage financing on the agenda.

This decision will appease developing countries and could grease the wheels in other areas of the negotiations, all of which are based on cooperation and putting on the table in the hope that others will do the same.

‘Drop the can on the road’

Importantly, these talks are unlikely to define or establish a funding facility, instead launching “a process with a view to adopting a final decision no later than 2024”.

Mohamed Adow, loss and damage campaigner and director of Power Shift Africa, said “the decision to abandon the loss and damage financing facility means that COP27 is like a car stalling on the starting grid.”

Unless the finance facility is agreed in Egypt, with details worked out over the next few years, COP27 is failing the world’s most vulnerable people, he said.

“To be successful, this ‘African COP’ must ensure that the interests of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people are respected,” he said.

“Without a clear path on loss and damage here in Egypt, it won’t happen.”

“We must deliver”

The UK officially handed over the COP presidency to Egypt today.

In his last interview as COP President, MP for Alok Sharma told Sky News multilateralism is in danger if countries go back on their climate promises.

“That’s what I hammered home this year with world leaders,” he said.

“We have to deliver on [pledges]. It’s about the credibility of this process.”

Watch the Daily Climate Show at 3.30pm Monday to Friday and The Climate Show with Tom Heap Saturday and Sunday at 3.30pm and 7.30pm.

All on Sky News, on the Sky News website and app, on YouTube and Twitter.

The show investigates how global warming is changing our landscape and highlights solutions to the crisis.

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