“This COP has taken an important step towards justice. Clearly this will not be enough, but it is a much-needed political signal to rebuild broken trust. The voices of those on the frontlines of the climate crisis must be heard,” said UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres while reacting to the decision to establish a loss and damage fund and to operationalize it in the coming period.
He, however, at the same time expressed the need to drastically reduce emissions now, saying this is an issue which the COP27 did not address. “A fund for loss and damage is essential – but it’s not an answer if the climate crisis washes a small island state off the map – or turns an entire African country to desert. The world still needs a giant leap on climate ambition. The red line we must not cross is the line that takes our planet over the 1.5 degree celsius temperature limit,” said the UN chief.
Civil society groups that had long been pitching for such a fund noted that the move is a first step to rectify injustice to those suffering disproportionately from climate devastation, especially in the global South. They said that the COP27 with the move on loss and damage fund has sent a warning to polluters that they can no longer go scot-free with their climate destruction.
“From now on, they will have to pay up for the damage they cause and are accountable to the people who are facing supercharged storms, devastating floods and rising seas. Countries must now work together to ensure that the new fund can become fully operational and respond to the most vulnerable people and communities who are facing the brunt of the climate crisis,” said Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy, Climate Action Network International.
Many others believe that no reference to fossil fuel phase out has, in fact,weakened the mitigation texts of COP27. They argue that even the language on coal phase down and fossil fuel subsidies is very weak as it is just a repetition of what the countries agreed on during COP26 in Glasgow last year.
“In Glasgow, we saw a phase down of coal. At COP27 in Sharm-el-Sheikh we needed to see an equitable and just phase out of all fossil fuels. A text that does not stop fossil fuel expansion, that does not provide progress from the already weak Glasgow Pact makes a mockery of the millions of people living with the impacts of climate change. The agreement on loss and damage is a major breakthrough, but without action to phase out the expansion of the fossil fuels that will cause further loss and damage, COP27 has failed to make the progress needed,” said Zeina Khalil Hajj, head of global campaigning and organising, 350.org.
“Just as the G20 communique made a strong statement against war, the final decision from COP27 could have made a powerful commitment in the current energy crisis to phase out all fossil fuels. Instead, it only called for a diversified energy mix, implicitly accepting the continued expansion of gas,” said Ulka Kelkar, director, Climate Program, WRI India.