After two weeks of intense negotiations, developed countries agreed to provide a fund to assist poorer countries that are being impacted by the extreme effects of climate change. It's not exactly a new idea. Since 2009, a promise has been in place for richer nations to provide $100 billion (84 Bn) in climate finance by 2020, but the new agreement has brought finance for rescue and rebuilding of poorer countries affected by the impacts of climate change that they didn't cause (something they have been requesting for the last 30 years) into reality.
The record rainfall that was seen in Pakistan earlier this year brought about catastrophic flooding that impacted 33 million people in the country - more than half the population. Four million acres of crops were washed away, along with 8,000km of metalled roads and 3,000km of railway track. During negotiations, poorer countries repeatedly and angrily pointed to this example, worried that their own countries could share a similar fate. This led to the eleventh hour agreement on a new loss and damage fund.
However, whilst richer countries have now acknowledged the need for finance to support countries suffering loss and damage, the target for keeping temperature increases at less than 1.5C above pre-Industrial levels was left under severe threat in Sharm el-Sheikh. The commitment for global greenhouse gas emissions to peak by 2025, as established at Cop26 in Glasgow last year was dropped from the final text of the Cop27 agreement. A commitment to phase out coal and phase down all fossil fuels was weakened in the final hours to a commitment to phase down coal.
The UK’s Cop26 President, Alok Sharma concluded, “I said in Glasgow that the pulse of 1.5C was weak. Unfortunately, it remains on life support.” We know that critical thresholds are fast approaching. If we don't act, the impacts of climate change will become more extreme. The world's leaders need to realise that it's in the interest of the entire world to work together to tackle climate change.
Photo: Ali Hyder Junejo