Climate compensation fund approved, more topics in the air

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — Negotiators early Sunday approved a historic deal that would create a fund to compensate poor nations who are victims of extreme weather conditions exacerbated by rich countries’ carbon pollution, but was an overall larger deal still up in the air is a battle over efforts to reduce emissions.

Following this vote, talks on other aspects of the negotiations were suspended while delegates had 30 minutes to read texts of other measures they were to vote on.

The decision establishes a fund for what negotiators call losses and damages. It’s a big win for poorer nations, who have long demanded cash — sometimes seen as redress — because they often fall victim to climate-aggravated floods, droughts, heat waves, famines, and storms despite contributing little to the pollution that causes it Country fuels globe

“In this way, we hope our 30-year journey has finally borne fruit today,” said Pakistan’s Climate Minister Sherry Rehman, who has often taken the lead on behalf of the world’s poorest nations. A third of her nation was swamped by a devastating flood this summer, and she and other officials used the motto, “What happened in Pakistan will not stay in Pakistan.”

Maldives Environment Minister Aminath Shauna told The AP on Saturday: “It means that for countries like ours we will have the mosaic of solutions that we have been campaigning for.”

It’s a reflection of what can be done if the poorest nations remain united, said Alex Scott, climate diplomacy expert at think tank E3G.

“I think it’s tremendous that governments are coming together to work out at least the first step … how to deal with the problem of loss and damage,” Scott said. But like all climate finance, it’s one thing to set up a fund, it’s another to let money flow in and out, she said. The developed world has still not met its 2009 pledge to spend $100 billion a year on other climate aid — to help poor nations develop green energy and adapt to future warming.

The agreement “gives hope to vulnerable people that they will receive help to recover from climate disasters and rebuild their lives,” said Harjeet Singh, head of global policy strategy at Climate Action Network International.

The Egyptian presidency, which has been criticized from all sides, proposed a new loss and damage deal on Saturday afternoon and a deal was reached within hours, but the Norwegian negotiator said it was not so much the Egyptians as the countries working together.

German Climate Ambassador Jennifer Morgan and Chilean Environment Minister Maisa Rojas, who got the deal on the agenda and on target, hugged after the passage, posed for a photo and said: “Yes, we did it!”

According to the agreement, the fund would initially draw on contributions from developed countries and other private and public sources such as international financial institutions. While large emerging economies like China would initially not have to contribute, this option remains on the table and will be negotiated in the coming years.