UN climate negotiators expect agreement to create disaster fund, reports say

UN climate talks negotiators said on Saturday they had reached a potentially landmark deal to create a disaster fund to compensate poor nations that are victims of climate change exacerbated by rich countries’ carbon pollution.

The Associated Press, citing several international government ministers, reported on Saturday that an agreement had been reached on a fund for “losses and damages”.

Poorer nations are often the victims of climate disasters despite having contributed little to the pollution.

James Shaw, New Zealand’s climate minister, said in an interview with AP that both the poor countries that would receive the money and the rich ones that would give it are involved.

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“There is an agreement on damage and loss,” said Aminath Shauna, the Maldives’ environment minister. “That means for countries like ours, we’ll have a mosaic of solutions that we’ve been advocating for.”

A man walks past a display of videos addressed to world leaders at the United Nations COP27 climate conference, Saturday, Nov.  19, 2022, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

A man walks past a display of videos addressed to world leaders at the United Nations COP27 climate conference, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
((AP Photo/Peter Dejong))

The low-lying Maldives and island nations are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis, and the United Nations points out that they often have low resilience against disasters.

According to the latest draft, the fund would initially draw on contributions from developed countries and other private and public sources, including international financial institutions.

Although major emerging economies would not have to contribute initially, that option remains on the table and will be negotiated over the next few years.

There would also be room for middle-income countries hit by climate disasters to receive aid.

Xie Zhenhua, China's Special Envoy for Climate Change, meets with the media at the COP27 United Nations Climate Change Conference, Saturday, Nov.  19, 2022, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Xie Zhenhua, China’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, meets with the media at the COP27 United Nations Climate Change Conference, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
((AP Photo/Olivia Zhang))

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If an agreement is approved, it still needs to be approved unanimously later that day.

China’s chief negotiator declined to comment on a potential deal.

The New York Times reported that a Biden administration official said the United States is “working to sign a deal,” reversing decades of opposition.

China and the United States are the two biggest carbon polluters.

Letters and drawings left are being collected in the youth pavilion at the COP27 UN climate conference, Saturday Nov.  19, 2022, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Letters and drawings left are being collected in the youth pavilion at the COP27 UN climate conference, Saturday Nov. 19, 2022, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
((AP Photo/Peter Dejong))

Following an agreement at the G-20 summit, the White House said climate officials from the two powers resumed formal negotiations last week.

European negotiators told the AP they were ready to support the deal but would not say so publicly until the entire package is approved.

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Egypt’s president proposed a new deal on Saturday and an agreement was reached within hours, although Norway’s climate and environment minister Espen Barth Eide said it was not so much Egyptians but countries working together.

Other issues at the conference are still being worked out as negotiators head into what they hope will be their final session. The COP27 summit was pushed past its scheduled end on Friday as countries struggled to reach a consensus.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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