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DC Edit | A victory of sorts in climate change fight


Published on: November 20, 2022 | Updated on: November 20, 2022

The COP 27  started off on an optimistic note as it sounded open to the idea of setting up the loss and damage fund (Representational Image/AFP)

The resolution adopted at the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) appears to be a job half done in that it has adopted a resolution to set up a loss and damage fund but has left the rich nations with no binding commitment to cut down on carbon emissions, the primary reason for climate change.

The summit started off on an optimistic note as it sounded open to the idea of setting up the loss and damage fund, which was not even on the agenda of its previous edition, COP26 at Glasgow. The negotiations, held at Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt, recovered from a near-breakdown on the question of the fund and the final text reflects the consensus the participants have reached: there will be a fund. It will help developing countries meet the costs of climate-fuelled events such as storms and floods. The details of the fund will, however, be decided only next year. A transitional committee would make recommendations on who would ultimately pay to the new fund, as per the final resolution.

While the decision on the fund is welcome, the history of rich nations in meeting the commitments they make to poor ones on this count is hardly encouraging. The UN climate meet in Copenhagen 12 years ago had agreed to channel $100 billion a year by the wealthy nations to less wealthy ones by 2020 so that they can adapt to climate change and get ready for future changes. The fund is not ready yet. That a final decision on the formation of the fund is elusive even at COP27 cannot be missed.

The failure, in fact, is that there is very little movement on the pressing demand for the phasing out of fossil fuels, the major contributor to carbon emission and global warming. The aspirations of the developed nations in the past have taken carbon emission to reach dangerous levels; their infrastructure creation and energy needs made the planet almost unlivable. The poor, in the meantime, were eons away from such a process. Now they are discovering their own national agendas and are seeking to emancipate their peoples.    

The prescriptions could work to the detriment of the interests of developing world as it asks countries to take steps towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies. The prescription, first made in the COP26 in Glasgow last year, addresses the developing nations as they depend majorly on coal for their increasing power demand; they offer subsidies to make energy available to its poor. If countries such as India were to follow the COP27 mandate, then it will have to slow down its developmental goals.  

Taken together, the final resolution looks to have followed the agenda of the rich nations. There is no roadmap for the phasing out of fossil fuels, there is no immediate commitment to the loss and damage fund, and there are suggestions that will harm the development process of the poor nations. In short, the summit has only sought to address part of the effects and not the causes. There is very little for the world to cheer on its outcomes.