For the first time, the nations of the world have decided to help pay for the damage that an overexpanding world is causing to poor countries.
But they ended the marathon COP27 climate talks on Sunday without further addressing the root cause of this disaster – the burning of fossil fuels.
The agreement establishes a fund for what negotiators call losses and damages.
It’s a big win for poorer nations who have long been clamoring for cash because they are often victims of climate change-increasing floods, droughts, heat waves, famines and storms, despite contributing little to the pollution that warms the earth. .
It has also long been called an issue of equality for nations exposed to extremes of weather and small island states facing an existential threat from rising seas.
“Three long decades and we’ve finally delivered climate justice,” he said Seve PaeniaFinance Minister of Tuvalu.
Environment Minister of Pakistan, Sherry Rehmansaid the creation of the fund “is not about distributing philanthropy”.
“This is clearly a subsidy for a longer investment in our common future,” she said, speaking for the Alliance of the World’s Poorest Nations.
Pakistan suffered its worst monsoon floods on record in June, partly caused by melting glaciers.
Molwyn Joseph of Antigua and Barbuda, who heads the Organization of Small Island States, described the agreement as “a victory for our entire world.”
“We have shown those who have felt neglected that we hear you, we see you and we are giving you the respect and care you deserve,” he said.
The agreement followed a game of climate change chicken over fossil fuels.
Early Sunday morning in Sharm El Sheikh, delegates approved the compensation fund but did not address contentious global warming targets, emissions cuts and the desire to target all fossil fuels for a phase-out.
Until midnight, the European Union and other nations fought back against what they saw as a rollback of the Egyptian presidency’s overall deal, threatening to block the rest of the process.
The package was revised and removed most of the points that the Europeans had objected to, but did not add any of the increased ambition they hoped for.
“What we have in front of us is not enough progress for people and the planet,” a disappointed EU chief Frans Timmermans told his negotiators. “It does not include sufficient efforts by major emitters to increase and accelerate their emission cuts.”
“We have all failed in our actions to avoid and minimize damage and harm,” Timmermans said. “We should have done a lot more.”
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock also expressed frustration.
“It is beyond disappointing to see timely measures to reduce and phase out fossil energy being stonewalled by a number of large emitters and oil producers,” she said.
The agreement includes a thinly veiled reference to the benefits of natural gas as a low-emissions energy, despite many nations calling for the phase-out of natural gas, which contributes to climate change.
While the new agreement does not address emissions reduction requirements, it retains the language to keep alive the global goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Egypt’s president went on to offer proposals that harkened back to the 2015 Paris talks, which also mentioned a more relaxed goal of two degrees. The world has already warmed by 1.1 degrees since pre-industrial times.
The agreement also does not expand on last year’s call to reduce global use of “raw coal”, even as India and other countries pushed to include oil and natural gas in language from Glasgow. It was also the subject of last-minute debate, particularly the uproar of the Europeans.
The president of climate talks last year criticized the summit for knocking down his efforts to do more to reduce emissions with a powerful list of what was not done.
“We proposed, with many parties, a number of actions that would have contributed to these emissions peaking by 2025, as the science tells us is necessary.” Not in this text,” said Alok Sharma from the UK, emphasizing the last part.
“Analyzed follow-up on coal phase-out. Not in this text. A clear commitment to phase out all fossil fuels. Not in this text. And the energy text weakened in the final minutes.”
And in his remarks to negotiators, UN climate chief Simon Stiell, who hails from Grenada, urged the world “to move away from fossil fuels, including coal oil and gas.”
However, that struggle was overshadowed by the historic compensation fund.
Not cutting emissions fast enough to limit warming to 1.5 degrees is “quite positive to celebrate amid gloom and doom,” said climate scientist Maarten van Aalst of the Red Cross’s Red Crescent Climate Centre, which responds to climate disasters.
This reflects what can be done when the poorest nations continue to unite,” said Alex Scott, a climate expert at think tank E3G.
But like all climate finance, starting a fund is one thing, getting money to flow in and out is another, she said. Developed countries have still not kept their 2009 pledge to spend 95 billion euros a year on alternative climate aid – designed to help poor nations develop green energy and adapt to future warming.
And there are reports that fossil fuel lobbyists have leaned on African nations, both to gain access to the Sharm El Sheikh summit and to water down commitments to tackle fossil fuel use.
Martin Kaiser, head of Greenpeace Germany, described the damages agreement as “a small patch on a huge, gaping wound”.
“It is scandalous that the Egyptian COP president has given petro-states like Saudi Arabia the space to abuse effective climate protection,” he said.
Many climate campaigners worry that it will be harder to push for strong action to end fossil fuel use at next year’s meeting in Dubai, in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates.