The clock is ticking to reach an agreement by COP27, and Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault says Canada will support a proposal to launch a loss and damage fund, with some conditions.
The European Union tabled a proposal seeking to establish a loss and damage fund on Thursday night, which Canada largely supports. Despite having been debated for decades, this is the first year on the official agenda for loss and damage, or compensation for countries suffering from the impacts of climate change. Many countries and civil society groups view the approval of a fund as a litmus test to determine whether the United Nations climate conference will be a success.
The exact language is up for debate, but on Friday night Guilbeault outlined the gist of the plan and confirmed that Canada is on board with creating a loss and damage fund.
“We think the fund should include all the big emitters,” he said, adding that countries that would otherwise be left out, such as China, which has the world’s second-largest economy, should also contribute to the fund.
Guilbeault said the world has changed enormously in the 30 years since the first UN climate conference was held, and new programs such as a loss and damage fund should reflect how countries have developed since then. . Without acknowledging this, she suggested that countries that are now economic powerhouses would not be paying their fair share under existing UN definitions of developed and developing countries.
This is the vocabulary battle taking place in the negotiation rooms of COP27. Should “developed countries” finance a loss and damage fund for “developing countries”, or should “big emitters” contribute to a fund for the “most vulnerable”?
Guilbeault said the category of high emitting countries should include countries like China, Saudi Arabia and Qatar that “are not only high emitters, but have much higher living standards than when the Rio Convention was adopted in 1992, when we separate the developed countries and the developing world.
“We can’t keep pretending that we live in the world of 1992, we have to realize that we live in the world of 2022.”
Close observers of climate diplomacy have criticized the move to redefine who should pay as a divide-and-conquer strategy aimed at defeating a separate loss-and-damage plan. That plan —presented this year by the G77+China, which represents 134 countries and is the largest negotiating bloc— would create a “transition committee”. That committee would have representatives from 15 developed countries and 20 developing countries to discuss what a fund might look like.
Critics say rich countries have tried to split the G77+China by proposing to broaden the donor country base to include countries considered “developing” but with economic power and significant contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions.
The clock is ticking to reach an agreement by COP27, and Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault says Canada will support a proposal to launch a loss and damage fund, with some conditions. #COP27
It’s a strategy that seeks to alienate major economies like China from their developing country allies by asking China to pay more into any possible fund than it would under current deals, critics say. It can also be seen as an attempt to convince the most vulnerable members of the G77 to break away from their middle-income peers by offering them access to the funds they need.
At a press conference on Friday morning, Tuvaluan Finance Minister Seve Pailu said he saw the EU’s shift in stance towards supporting a loss and damage fund, unlike in previous years, as an important step. .
“That’s a big concession and a big step forward, and at least our hope (is) that that will be … in the text of the cover decision,” he said.
Climate Action Network Canada’s international climate diplomacy manager, Eddy Perez, said National Observer of Canada It’s fine to have a conversation about who should contribute to a fund, but it’s bad image to make that a condition for progress.
Pérez said it was good to see the EU soften its position by agreeing that there should be a loss and damage fund in the deal, and that it is important that countries recognize the effort, but ultimately the EU “is not acting in the best interest of vulnerable countries”.
“Canada has been playing a constructive role, open to all solutions, nowhere in the same place as the United States,” Perez said. “The blockers are the United States right now, you have Japan and potentially even Australia.”
Perez said that US efforts to divide China and its allies could backfire and instead push China into a leadership role. As countries near the end of COP27, “the United States (is) being isolated,” he said.
As negotiators head down the stretch, the first draft of the agreement, which came out overnight on Thursday, shows countries backtracking on commitments made last year in Glasgow. While climate advocates say the text has some tentatively positive signs buried in the draft, including references to keeping global warming to 1.5C and a just transition away from fossil fuels, it’s also full of loopholes, words weasel and vague commitments. Critically, the first draft has rejected a demand by many countries to see strong language about phasing out all fossil fuels, something climate scientists say must happen quickly to avoid catastrophic global warming.
Without a massive improvement to the working draft in the coming days, the conference will be branded as a failure, say civil society groups and countries on the front lines of the climate crisis.
“The main outcomes of this COP hinge on two issues: the phasing out of all fossil fuels and the provision of financing for loss and damage so that countries can finally address the enormous impacts they face in the climate crisis,” said Catherine Abreu. , executive director of Zero Destination. “Canada hasn’t done very well on any of those issues in the past.
“At this point, (Canada) is doing a little better on loss and damage, and it’s good to see our minister promising new means of loss and damage support… but we also want to see Canada finally come on board with the recognition that in order for us to meet our climate goals, limit warming to 1.5 degrees, get to net zero by 2050, we’re going to have to have that conversation about the future of our oil and gas sector.” she said.