Accessibility links

Breaking News

COP27 Opens with Climate Compensation Call, Warnings on Backsliding

UN's climate change Communications Officer Alexander Saier, UN's climate change executive secretary Simon Stiell, and COP27 President Sameh Shoukry listen to questions following the opening ceremony of COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, November 6 2022. (AFP)

The UN's COP27 climate summit kicked off Sunday in Egypt with warnings against backsliding on efforts to cut emissions and calls for rich nations to compensate poor countries after a year of extreme weather disasters.

After two days of intense pre-summit negotiations, delegates agreed on Sunday to put the "loss and damage," issue on the COP27 agenda, a first step towards what are sure to be difficult discussions.

COP27 president Sameh Shoukry of Egypt said it would be unproductive to speculate on what outcome the negotiations will lead to, "but certainly everybody is hopeful."

"Anything that we do effectively has to be on the basis of our common efforts and that we leave no one behind," he said.

"Loss and damage," is used to describe rich nations paying out funds to help poor countries cope with the consequences of global warming for which they bear little blame.

At COP26 last year in Glasgow, high-income nations, including the United States and the European Union blocked a proposal for a loss and damage financing body, instead supporting a three-year dialog for funding discussions.

But pressure to address the issue has been increasing as weather calamities mount, including this year's floods in Pakistan that caused economic losses of more than $30 billion and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

Shoukry also noted that rich nations have not fulfilled a separate pledge to deliver $100 billion per year to help developing countries green their economies and build resilience against future climate change.

He lamented that most climate financing is based on loans.

"We do not have the luxury to continue this way. We have to change our approaches to this existential threat," he said.

UN Climate Report

An alarming UN report, released as the COP27 summit opened in Egypt, said the past eight years are on track to be the eight warmest on record, with an acceleration in sea level rise, glacier melt, heatwaves and other climate indicators.

"As COP27 gets underway, our planet is sending a distress signal," said UN chief Antonio Guterres, describing the report as "a chronicle of climate chaos."

Just in the past few months, floods devastated Pakistan and Nigeria, droughts worsened in Africa and the United States, cyclones whipped the Caribbean, and unprecedented heatwaves seared three continents.

Simon Stiell, the UN's climate change executive secretary, said he would not be a "custodian of backsliding" on the goal of slashing greenhouse emissions 45 percent by 2030 to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above late 19th-century levels.

"We will be holding people to account, be they presidents, prime ministers, CEOs," Stiell said as the 13-day summit opened.

The UN says the world is currently heading to 2.8C of warming, or a still-catastrophic 2.4C even if all national pledges under the Paris treaty adopted at COP21 are fulfilled.

"The heart of implementation is everybody everywhere in the world every single day doing everything they possibly can to address the climate crisis," he said, noting that only 29 of 194 nations have presented improved plans as called for at COP26 in Glasgow last year.

COP27 will take place until November 18, and more than 100 worlds leaders are expected to attend.

Some information for this report came from Reuters.