After a marathon negotiation running 40 hours beyond the Friday evening deadline, parties have achieved an agreement on setting up a loss and damage fund. This achievement is deemed a major milestone for vulnerable countries. However, to the dismay of many, some countries reneged on the commitment to phase out fossil fuels to keep global temperatures from rising and the promise of providing 100 billion dollars per year for climate finance.
The decision-making process for the final text was not transparent and inclusive. Political maneuvers were made to make countries agree on the text that had been formulated. For example, in loss and damage negotiation, developed countries, including the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, changed their stance and proposed draft text at 11 pm on Friday. Meanwhile, the second draft text summarizing the negotiations’ outcomes was released around 1:30 am on Saturday, which was beyond the scheduled finish time. Negotiators were overwhelmed with new text in the early hour morning. In addition, some small island leaders had flown back home.
“From what I ascertain, there is equal dissatisfaction in all quarters,” said Sameh Shoukry, COP27 president and Egypt Foreign Minister.
Grueling night discussion and the last-minute change leave parties with no choice but to accept the text. The final text, “cut greenhouse gas emissions,” was approved by the depleted and tired negotiators on Sunday morning. Likewise, in COP26, the text regarding coal was changed from phase-out to phase-down in the closing plenary. Under pressure from civil society to have an outcome for COP26, most countries accept the change with great reluctance. If the climate actions fall into the purely political calculation, countries need to worry about either they are excluded from the decision-making process or there is a “secret text” hiding in the treaty, how could we expect that international climate actions could move forwards?
Trust is the critical piece in negotiation. When that trust is missing, what we have is just a document. In 2009 at COP15, developed countries agreed to mobilize 100 billion dollars to developing countries annually by 2020. However, according to the OCED report, the total climate finance for developing countries was 83.3 billion in 2020. Developed countries have failed to meet the $100 billion goal and extend the deadline to 2025, which has eroded trust in the agreements.
“By the time we get to Glasgow, if they haven’t given us another $100 billion for 2021, then they are completely unable to meet their obligations,” said Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development before COP26 in Glasgow.
The failure to meet the $100 billion dollars goal has not only raised the trust issue among countries but also added a question mark on funding sources for the loss and damage fund. In addition, if there is no trust among countries, how could we work together and find solutions to reduce the impact of climate change?