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COP27 | Five issues that could see developed and developing nations locking horns over

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Many developed countries, such as the United States, have opposed looking at finance for loss and damage as a ‘compensation’ for damages, and blocked negotiations on providing funds for itCOP27 | Five issues that could see developed and developing nations locking  horns over

Climate Change negotiations, formally called the 27th edition of Conference of Parties (COP27), begin on November 6 at Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt.

To understand what issues will be the most difficult to resolve at COP27, we reached out to several Climate Change negotiators from developing countries. Here are five of the issues:

Climate Finance

In 2010, rich countries committed to providing $100 billion per year to poor countries by 2020. During COP26 in Glasgow in 2021, the rich countries admitted to have failed to mobilise these funds. The poor countries will ramp up pressure on the rich to deliver.

Then, there will be debates to pace up the work on deciding what should be the size of total funds to be mobilised. To begin with, decide a definition of what constitutes ‘climate finance’. The Like Minded Developing Countries group, which includes both India and China, has stressed on defining climate finance to ensure that rich countries are held accountable for their commitments. The absence of a definition has allowed rich countries to greenwash their finances, and also pass off loans as climate-related aid.

Loss And Damage

Irreversible damages caused due to Climate Change constitutes what is universally accepted as loss and damage . This includes extreme weather events, sea level rise, loss of biodiversity, and increase in temperature. Developing countries are more vulnerable to these events. But who will pay for the damages? To whom, and how? This year, as countries grapple with these questions, the stress will be on arranging funds that pays for these damages. Many developed countries, such as the United States, have opposed looking at this as a ‘compensation’ for damages, and blocked negotiations on providing funds for it.

Many developing countries are keen to see the establishment of a mechanism this year at Egypt to deliver funds to countries that suffer inevitable economic losses from Climate Change.

Article 2.1(c) the Paris Agreement

Article 2.1(c) of the Paris Agreement (PA) says that climate finance should be tied to low emissions-based development. This means that climate finance would be conditional on how funds are used; whether they’re being used for development that involves burning ‘dirty’ fossil fuels, or not.

Poor countries contest that this makes Article 2.1(c) ambiguous — as it would depend on how ‘low emissions-based development’ is defined. Say, for India, will funds be available for clean coal technologies or will that technology also get termed as dirty? This ambiguity also leads to inequalities in the distribution of funds.

Rich country groups, like the European Union, want a discussion on 2.1(c) as they feel it has not received due attention, and prevents everyone from building a clear understanding of how climate finance should be channelled.

Several large developing countries fear it’s a way of dictating their future economic trajectories, and even forcing them to adopt costly technologies that the rich nations want to sell without meeting their climate obligations to provide funds.

Global Goal On Adaptation

Adaptation means the ability of a country to respond to or deal with the impact of Climate Change. In 2015, under the PA, all nations decided to have a Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) to increase the capacities of countries to adapt to Climate Change. The goal is still being worked out. The talks will see some trenchant arguments over:

  • What criteria would be used to understand which country is more vulnerable?

  • How will this goal be implemented?

  • Where will the money come from?

Mitigation Work Program

At COP26, countries decided to start a new channel of negotiations called the Mitigation Work Program (MWP). Rich nations were keen upon it. Mitigation here implies reducing emissions.

Developing countries, however, argue that this channel of negotiations — the MWP — replicates the work that will be done under another one, called the Global Stocktake. The Global Stocktake is a formal and more holistic exercise to assess global progress on all commitments by nations — which includes finance, technology, mitigation and adaptation — they have made under the PA.

Developing countries worry that the MWP is being engineered to push them to constantly revise their climate targets without enhancing the supply of technology and finance for them. This will have an adverse impact on poor countries who do not have the money to invest in building expensive technologies.