$1 trillion could be set aside for helping vulnerable nations in historic COP27 deal

By Will Trafford

Gas flaring from the Oselvar module of the BP Ula oil platform in the North Sea. Photo / Varodrig/ Wikimedia Commons

A landmark deal has been struck at the UN's COP27 summit that will see wealthy nations pay developing and poor countries for historic financial and environmental damage caused by climate change.

While the agreement was widely praised as an achievement for responding to the impacts of global warming on third-world countries, many nations including New Zealand lamented the fact no agreement to actually limit global warming was reached.

COP27 began two weeks ago with powerful statements from vulnerable nations saying it was time developed countries foot the bill for the effects industrialisation has had on global warming.

 "We will not give up. The alternative consigns us to a watery grave," Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis said.

Although the agreed loss and damage fund was tabled at the opening of COP27, the event went overtime by two days to get as many signatories as possible to the deal.

COP conferences differ from many global forums in that every nation no matter how big or small, by land-mass or population, receives just a single vote, weighting the biggest polluters like China or the United States alongside threatened nations like Tuvalu.

Pakistan's climate minister, Sherry Rehman, who negotiated the deal on behalf of the group of developing countries plus China, told journalists Sunday she was pleased with the outcome.

New Zealand kicked it off

"I am confident we have turned a corner in how we work together to achieve climate goals," she said.

Severe flooding in Pakistan which killed more than 1,700 people earlier this year and caused an estimated $40 billion in damage, provided a compelling background for this conference.

New Zealand had got the ball rolling, offering $20 million to developing countries off the bat.

While welcoming the new fund, Climate Change Minister James Shaw and other countries and groups including the UK, and the European Union have left Egypt dissatisfied with the failure of any concrete steps to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

"On the 1.5 target there are definitely some bad-faith actors trying to pull back from things that we've already agreed at Shaw told RNZ Saturday.

"Things do get pretty hairy late in the second week but this is probably worse than I've seen before," Shaw said, of unnamed nations seeking to thwart efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

New Zealand's Minister for Climate Change James Shaw delivers a speech at the Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Centre, in Egypt's Red Sea resort city of the same name, during the COP27 climate conference on November 15, 2022. Photo / Ahmad Gharabli / AFP via Getty Images

New Zealand's Climate Change Minister James Shaw delivers a speech at the Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Centre, in Egypt's Red Sea resort city of the same name, during the COP27 climate conference on November 15, 2022. Photo / Ahmad Gharabli / AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. tried to get China, which is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and largest consumer of coal in the world, to be part of the group of countries responsible for making reparations with Washington saying as the second largest economy in the world, it should pay its fair share.

China says it wants to help developing countries with climate change, but it won't be giving any money because the World Bank says it, too, is a developing country.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak commended the progress made at COP27 but said "more must be done" to combat climate change.

No pledges to "phase down" or restrict the usage of fossil fuels landed in the final deal.

It also included vague new terminology about "low emissions energy," which experts think could pave the way for some fossil fuels like natural gas to be incorporated into a green energy future.

Images of more than 50 private jets touching down in Sharm el-Sheikh, paired with news that attendance of fossil fuel lobbyists was up 25 per cent and a hallmark sponsor was the world’s largest plastics polluter, Coca-Cola, meant the conference was again not short of controversy.

Highlights included a commitment from Brazil's President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to end deforestation and restore the Amazon, one of the world’s largest carbon sinks.

A deal was also agreed to pay $20 billion to Indonesia to move away from coal.

While price tags for the loss and damage fund were not agreed in the final deal, a report commissioned before the summit speculated developing countries would need around $2.4 trillion by 2030, and the west would need to foot the bill to the tune of $1 trillion.

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