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UN Secretary General hails COP27 on Loss and Damage Fund

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has welcomed the “loss and damage” fund aimed at helping vulnerable countries to cope with climate disasters.

The establishment of the fund is part of a landmark deal out of the two-week-long UN Climate Change negotiation that has been taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

António Guterres at a virtual press briefing on Sunday welcomed the decision to establish a loss and damage fund but urged that it should be operationalized in the coming period.

He said while a fund for loss and damage is essential, it is not an answer if the climate crisis washes a small island state off the map – or turns an entire African country into a desert.

“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,” he said.

But some delegates said the loss and damage fund will be a lifeline for poor families whose houses are destroyed, farmers whose fields are ruined, and islanders forced from their ancestral homes.

The conference ended with some of the civil society groups and representatives from developing countries about the failure of some of the big powers to announce concrete measures to curb carbon emissions.

The Secretary-General said this Conference of Parties took an important step towards justice. The conference reportedly made good on the long-delayed promise of $100 billion a year in climate finance for developing countries. There has an been outcry that this money which had been promised by developed countries at COP15 in Paris has not been flowing as promised.

For António Guterres, despite the outcome of the Sharm el-Sheikh, conference, our planet is still in the emergency room, and the world needs to drastically reduce emissions now.

He suggested that to have any hope of keeping to 1.5, the world needs to massively invest in renewables and end our addiction to fossil fuels.

Meanwhile, campaigners pushing for an end to fossil fuels said in a statement that the COP27 climate talks were supposed to be an “implementation COP,” “commensurate with the challenge based on science,” but the two weeks of UN climate negotiations have been dominated by fossil fuel industry presence and have seen countries make no progress on collective commitments on fossil fuels.

The Oil for Change group said despite important progress on establishing a loss and damage fund, the COP has failed to acknowledge that a rapid and equitable phase-out of all fossil fuels — oil, gas, and coal — is the only chance at achieving climate targets, avoiding the worst of climate impacts, and avoiding fossil fuel lock-in and stranded assets.

The Executive Director for Oil Change International, Elizabeth Bast said this COP made no progress towards the just and equitable phase-out of fossil fuels needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Bast observed that despite important progress on the establishment of a loss and damage fund, the final outcome reiterated unambitious language on fossil fuels that will lead to catastrophic consequences.

“Even with this disappointing outcome, we’re seeing growing momentum from individual governments making meaningful commitments to phase out fossil fuels through initiatives like the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance and the Statement on International Public Support for the Clean Energy Transition,” said Bast.

“Most importantly, COP27 has showcased the growing power of the climate justice movement. Throughout these two weeks, civil society voices have demanded a phase-out of fossil fuels and called for rich countries to pay up for climate debt. Every day, we are seeing the power of communities resisting harmful oil, gas, and coal projects. We are seeing massive growth in the breadth and depth of the movement. With this people power, we will force an equitable end to fossil fuels and a just transition to clean energy.” Read part of the statement.

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