Summary excerpt of article about COP27 Climate Summit that ended Nov 20
1. New agreement
The new agreement emphasizes that countries should strive to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels. Beyond that threshold, scientists say, the risk of climate catastrophes increases significantly. Early in the summit, some negotiators feared that the talks would abandon a focus on that target, which many vulnerable nations, such as low-lying islands in the Pacific, see as essential to their survival.
India and more than 80 other countries wanted language that would have called for a “phase-down” of all fossil fuels, not just coal, but also oil and gas. That would have gone beyond the deal at Glasgow, which called for a “phase-down” of coal only. But that effort was blocked by major oil producers like Canada and Saudi Arabia, as well as by China, according to people close to the negotiations.
2. Loss and Damage Fund
As the summit neared its end, the European Union consented to the idea of a loss and damage fund, though it insisted that any aid should be primarily focused on the most vulnerable nations, and that aid might include a wide variety of options such as new insurance programs in addition to direct payments.
That left the United States, which has pumped more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than any nation in history, as the last big holdout. By Saturday, as talks stretched into overtime, American officials said that they would accept a loss and damage fund, breaking the logjam.
3. Remained Major Hurdles
There is no guarantee that wealthy countries will deposit money into the fund. A decade ago, the United States, the European Union and other wealthy emitters pledged to mobilize $100 billion per year in climate finance by 2020 to help poorer countries shift to clean energy and adapt to future climate risks through measures like building sea walls. They are still falling shortby tens of billions of dollars annually.
And while American diplomats agreed to a fund, money must be appropriated by Congress. Last year, the Biden administration sought $2.5 billion in climate finance but secured just $1 billion, and that was when Democrats controlled both chambers. With Republicans set to take over the House in January, the prospects of Congress approving an entirely new pot of money for loss and damage appear dim.
The United States and the European Union secured language in the deal that could expand the donor base to include major emerging economies like China and Saudi Arabia. The United Nations currently classifies China as a developing country, which has traditionally exempted it from obligations to provide climate aid, even though it is now the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases as well as the second-largest economy. The new changes are likely to spark fights in the future, since China has fiercely resisted being treated as a developed nation in global climate talks.