“At the start of these talks, loss and damage were not even on the agenda. And now we enter the story. Mohamed Adow, director of the NGO Power Shift Africa, an ardent defender of the fund intended to compensate for the climate damage that poor countries are already suffering, is enthusiastic. At the end of COP27, which ended with very mixed results, the latter finally left Sharm el-Sheikh with a “historic” agreement. Illustration of the difficulties in giving birth to it, it was adopted almost on the sly, in the middle of the night and at the start of the closing session of this conference of the parties. Adoption greeted with applause, for a decision insistently demanded for years.
“It’s a huge achievement to get an agreement after 30 years of trying to put this on the agenda,” rejoices Tasneem Essop, director of the NGO network Climate Action Network. “History. I really think it’s historic,” said Collins Nzovu, Zambia’s Minister of Environment. “This is a very positive result for 1.3 billion Africans. »
Droughts and floods
The year 2022 has sadly illustrated the acceleration of the catastrophic impacts of global warming: droughts and food insecurity in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, devastating floods in Pakistan and Nigeria. Countries which often contribute little to the causes of climate change and which therefore demanded a specific, long-lasting and “predictable” financial mechanism for the “losses and damages” they suffer, and which already amount to tens of billions.
Floods, droughts, rising waters… What the IPCC report says about Africa
But, fearing in particular to admit any legal responsibility, the rich countries, large historical emitters of greenhouse gases, refused to do so for years. What went all the more badly that they did not keep their commitment made in 2009 to increase their other climate financing to developing countries to 100 billion dollars per year.
After years of refusal, they finally accepted that the subject be officially on the agenda of the COP in Sharm el-Sheikh, because “everyone is now aware that things are way beyond our control. People are losing their homes, farms and incomes and the current system of external humanitarian aid was not enough. So we had to do something very different and very new”, analyzes Harjeet Singh, of the NGO network Climate Action Network.
The diplomatic battle was not easy. Developing countries presented themselves united, under the banner of a proposal by the powerful G77+China negotiating group. Faced with hostility from rich countries, NGOs maintained pressure, denouncing every day in press conferences the selfishness of “historical polluters” who, after having built their wealth on fossil fuels causing global warming, refuse to help those who suffer the consequences.
COP27: Yoweri Museveni attacks the “hypocrisy” of Europeans
During this time, meetings multiplied in the corridors, with announcements or rumors of projects, counter-projects, but no concrete texts in circulation. The United States, particularly targeted, remained extremely discreet, leaving the Europeans to step up. And end up accepting the principle of creating a dedicated financial fund. “Developed countries have succeeded in breaking this taboo [du refus d’un fonds…]we must give them this merit, ”comments Inès Benomar, of the E3G think tank.
But the negotiations almost collapsed until the last minute, particularly on the place of China: contributor or potential beneficiary? Developed countries insisted on explicitly mentioning the earmarking of this fund towards the “most vulnerable”. An agreement was finally reached during a final conciliation meeting, after a reversal of the small island states, particularly threatened by climate impacts, according to concordant sources, some of which referred to “pressure”.
What Africa really wants from COP27
And the Chinese envoy for the climate, Xie Zhenhua, gave his imprimatur by estimating that the fund should benefit all developing countries but be oriented “first towards fragile countries”. The agreement, deliberately quite general, provides that a special committee will settle the operational details by the next COP28, in twelve months in Dubai. And for a European source, the real battle to determine the exact role of the fund and who will pay or receive what will begin barely dry the ink of the agreement of Charm el-Sheikh.