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After 3 days of overtime, and negotiations that lasted late into the morning an otherwise lukewarm COP27 ended in a nice surprise in the form of an agreement on the loss and damage fund. This years conference, held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, didn’t have the greatest hopes attached to it. Greta Thunberg opted not to attend citing that the conference did little more than green washing, and the gathering was overshadowed by the recent imprisonments of Egyptian journalists such as Ahmed Fayez.

One of the main points of contention over the two week long conference was the concept of a loss and damage fund. The logic of such a fund is pretty simple. Developed countries who are responsible for the majority of climate change pay reparations to developing countries who suffer the majority of climate change. This is especially salient in as this year’s conference was held in Africa where countries like Somalia are suffering their 5th straight rainy season lacking in rain. Approaching the end of the conference the hopes of ever seeing such a fund come to fruition seemed to be waning until Sunday morning when negotiators were able to come to an agreement.

This fund, which will be hammered out in the following year, may take the form of simple compensation or it may take the form of a climate-crises insurance which some are taking to call ‘Gobal Shield.’ Though despite this many activists are wary of how much good the Loss and Damage Fund will actually do. This year in Pakistan massive floods led to 30 billion in property destruction, yet the money committed to the fund is only 300 million. Another difficulty is China which insists on its categorization as a developing country (thus making it eligible to get money from the fund) despite it being the 2nd largest economy, and the largest emitter of green house gasses. Other activists see the fund as little more than a green washing strategy designed to signal a false sense of progress.

The Loss and Damage Fund is encompassed by the larger issue of the disparity between those who are in need and those who have the wealth. As Bill McKibben writes about this in his article “How to Pay for Climate Justice When Polluters Have All the Money” which succinctly summarizes the heart of this years COP27 negotiations.

Other positives from the conference were the increased participation in the Global Methane Pledge with around 50 countries joining. The pact aims to reduce methane emissions by 30% by the end of this decade. As well as Brazil’s president-elect, Lula de Silva, vowing to aid climate efforts, especially in the Amazon Rainforest, after the disastrous deforestation legislation of Bolsonaro.

Despite these steps forward the talks at COP27 seem to be marred by an overall lack of urgency. Such a lack is highlighted in the difficulty in coming to a consensus around the issue of fossil fuel elimination with global leaders still only being able to agree on ‘phase down’ rather than ‘phase out’ terminology. India has also been a point of concern due to their continued investment into to coal, despite their claims of commitment to renewable energy.

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