COP27: the first draft decision on loss and damage comes out

The loss and damage dossier is the heart of the Sharm el-Sheikh summit

(sustainabilityenvironment.com) – Either the funding mechanism so requested by the most vulnerable countries to the climate crisis, or a postponement until 2024 of any decision on the chapter Loss & Damage. It is built around this aut aut the first draft decision on losses and damages that should enter into the final agreement of the COP27 of Sharm el-Sheikh. Options that reflect the deep rift that still exists between delegates, 4 days after the closing, on one of the issues on which the overall outcome of the climate summit is to be played.

In a COP27 where the divergent views of countries slow down much more than normal negotiations, the part on Loss & Damage also suffers. The published draft that reflects the work done until Monday, November 14 at 13 in reality is not even a real draft. Rather, it is a document that collects and organizes “elements” that emerged from the first week of discussions and is produced by co-facilitators, not delegates.

Read also Climate summit, COP27 argues on the most important agenda item

It goes without saying that the text can still be distorted or even not enter into the final agreement of the COP27 (provided that the delegates can sign one, which is not obvious given the climate). But it is worth examining more closely what proposals have managed to enter into this text to understand where we are going.

What does the draft decision on loss and damage provide for?

There is a firm point: with COP27, the loss and damage dossier is definitely on the agenda of the climate summit and also for COP28 and COP29. Point 13 of the text states that the parties “agree to launch a two-year process to implement the activities” that define all the details of the functioning of climate finance under the label Loss & Damage. Point 14 reinforces the previous one and states that the results (final or preliminary) of these activities should be considered “with the aim of taking decisions associated with these activities” at COP28 and COP29. The language here is intermediate: there is no obligation to take important decisions as early as next year, but something will have to be decided. A guarantee, however weak, against strategies that aim to slow down the process.

But the possibility of extending the time and diluting the final result remains. In the form of what should be the outcome of the biennial process launched in Sharm. Chapter 7 of the text proposes two alternative and incompatible options.

The first option provides that the outcome of the process on loss and damage is “financing arrangements, such as a new operational entity of the Financial Mechanism, as agreed at COP 27, responding to Loss & Damage, including a special focus on loss and damage management, to be operational by COP 29 (November 2024)”. In practice, this is what the most vulnerable countries are asking for: the application of the Paris agreement and the creation of a “financial facility” with financial resources and shared rules for the distribution of funds.

The second option, however, provides that the process simply ends with a “Decision/s, on the basis of negotiations, informed by the technical work to be carried out, taken between 2023 and 2024, on the role of the Convention and the Paris Agreement in the context of the mosaic of financing agreements to respond to losses and damages“. The key word here is “mosaic”. It serves to avoid the creation of a Financial Facility with new funds and instead favors an alternative supported by many countries with advanced economies: reorganizing the already existing funds and flows to vulnerable countries, responding to emergencies. Without paying (too much) new money. And, above all, without allowing the principle to passing that the major responsibility for historical emissions must compensate those affected by the climate crisis. It turns the demand for a machine that dispenses climate justice into nothing more than a global civil protection agency.

These two diametrically opposed views hold even in other parts of the draft. A look at paragraphs 10 and 11 of the document is revealing. The lists of the nature of funding for losses and damages and their form contain everything, both the options favored by those who want a new (and reparative) mechanism and those who brake and want to limit the perimeter of Loss & Damage to climatic emergencies only. In 96 hours, we’ll know who got the better of this arm wrestle.

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