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27th Feb 2024

EU support for climate compensation lacks concrete commitments

  • Disastrous flooding in Pakistan has sharpened calls for support from wealthy countries (Photo: Oxfam International)
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The EU agreed to increase their climate ambitions for the COP27 UN climate conference, which will be held in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el Sheikh from 6 until 18 November.

A "strong mandate" was needed to keep the conclusions of last year's summit "alive" and convince other countries to follow the EU's lead, EU climate chief Frans Timmermans said on Monday (24 October). But it took lengthy negotiations to get all 27 countries to agree to update the bloc's climate target "as soon as possible."

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The EU had already pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 55 percent in 2030 as part of its 12,000-page 'Fit for 55' legislative proposal, but EU officials now hope some measures can be revised upwards.

For example, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in May, the EU wants to expand renewable energy quicker and increase energy savings to reduce dependency on imported Russian fuels, which may also increase emission reduction by a few percentage points in the next years.

"Carbon emissions will be reduced even faster than before," Timmermans said.

Loss and damage

Ministers also agreed to support putting compensation for countries hit by climate change — so-called loss and damage — on the agenda at the climate summit in Egypt.

However, no concrete commitments were made, and the wording of the negotiating document remains vague, only signalling a "readiness to engage constructively with partners."

Twelve years ago, at a United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen, rich nations pledged to channel €100bn a year to developing countries by 2020, but so far have not yet delivered on that promise.

But disastrous flooding in Pakistan, with costs now estimated at €40bn, has sharpened calls for support from wealthy countries. "Despite having less than 1 percent share in global carbon emission, Pakistan is one of the ten countries most affected by climate change," prime minister Shehbaz Sharif said on 19 October.

Climate diplomats met at an informal summit in the Democratic Republic of Congo at the start of October to find a middle ground on climate finance and avoid an explosive fight that would derail the Egyptian conference.

One of the most concrete proposals to address the lack of funding came from the Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis), which proposed a Loss and Damage Response Fund.

It would raise money from governments in regular voluntary fundraising rounds in a similar model to the UN's €100bn Green Climate Fund.

Establishing such a fund "must be the end goal at COP27", the 39 low-lying island alliance vowed when presenting the proposal in September.

"We have run out of time to waste — our islands are being hit with more severe and more frequent climate impacts, and recovery comes at the cost of our development," said Walton Webson, ambassador of 39 small island nations in a September statement. "GDP losses from tropical cyclones average at 3.7 percent per year. Why must our islands, which contribute the least to the emissions that cause this crisis, pay the highest price?"

An earlier rendition of the fund was proposed at the COP26 Glasgow summit last year but was rejected by wealthy countries.

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