U.S., European Union block effort for climate disaster funding at COP26

GLASGOW – The United States and the European Union on Saturday opposed calls from developing countries after the COP26 summit to create a facility to provide financial assistance to victims of climate change disasters.

The issue of loss and damage, or the social and economic costs of climate impacts such as sea level rise and extreme weather conditions, were among the debates that drove the Glasgow conference into overtime, pitting developing countries against wealthy polluters.

Island states requested a separate funding facility for loss and damage. They received support from the G77, a UN coalition of 134 developing countries plus China, which presented a proposal this week.

But in the plenary session of COP26 on Saturday afternoon, G77 chairman Guinea reluctantly accepted the current draft text, which does not provide for separate funding. Antigua and Barbuda also admitted, on behalf of the Alliance of Small Islanders, that the Glasgow Accords would not include a new financial facility.

The G77 proposal met with fierce opposition from the US and the EU. Rich countries – responsible for most of the carbon dioxide in the planet’s atmosphere – have long resisted steps to finance losses and damage, fearing that this could lead to legal liability for past emissions and extensive compensation claims.

A senior US official said earlier this week that creating a fund to compensate individuals or governments for loss and damage was a red line. US climate ambassador John Kerry also said on the eve of the conference that Washington would not support a decision that paves the way for lawsuits.

The EU has also resisted the G77 proposal to create a new “Glasgow Loss and Damage Facility” to provide financial support to developing countries affected by climate disasters. A senior European negotiator said Saturday that the bloc’s coffers were opposed to creating a new fund.

The most new text draft, released on Saturday morning, includes a plan to set up a dialogue between countries and international organizations to discuss “the arrangements” for funding losses and damage.

It also includes plans to fund a program to provide technical assistance to countries facing loss and damage. Both EU and US officials have signaled their support for strengthening this program, known as the Santiago Network, which is currently just a website.

With little to no progress on losses and damage in previous COPs, such a decision would be a big step forward, but developing countries and NGOs expressed disappointment on Saturday.

Maldives Environment Minister Aminath Shauna said her country recognized there had been progress on the issue but feared the dialogue would end with more words and no action. “That’s the fear.”

Tasneem Essop, director of the Climate Action Network of Civil Society Organizations, said that by blocking separate funding, rich countries have again demonstrated their utter lack of solidarity and responsibility to those facing the worst climate impacts, she said, “was a” one clear betrayal of the rich nations – the US, the EU and the UK – to vulnerable communities in poor countries. “

Financial assistance and the reluctance of rich countries to provide it was the main source of tension at the Glasgow Summit.

Negotiations are ongoing to finance developing countries to reduce their emissions and adapt to the effects of global warming. Wealthy countries have promised to provide $ 100 billion annually for climate finance by 2020, but they have missed, and that target will not be met until 2023.

Shauna added that the Maldives are also concerned about “incremental progress” in adaptation – money to pay for everything from building flood control to switching to drought-resistant crops to adapt to global temperature rise.

“We heard several high-level statements that confirm the technology is available. And we know from the trillions that are invested in fossil fuels each year that it is not about money. The question is again one of political will, ”she said.

Zack Colman contributed to the coverage.

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