Fund to assist countries affected by climate change is ‘landmark moment’, say Irish NGOs

Cop27 summit concludes with agreement for loss-and-damage fund but fails to include phase-out of fossil fuels

The agreement to establish a fund to provide financial support to developing countries affected by climate change is a “landmark moment” and “historic outcome”, aid organisations and climate experts have said.

The Cop27 climate summit concluded early on Sunday after tense negotiations with an agreement for the establishment of a loss-and-damage fund, in which the world’s richest countries – the biggest carbon emitters – will make payments to developing countries.

For people on the front lines of the climate crisis, this offers hope that there will be a fund to help them recover and rebuild in the aftermath of disasters

The fund will be available to the world’s least-developed countries and small island states to receive support for damage already suffered but also for future disasters such as storms, floods and droughts made worse by climate disruption.

Siobhán Curran, head of policy and advocacy at Trócaire, said it was a “landmark moment”, achieved after “years of demands from communities who have been suffering the damaging impacts of the climate crisis”.

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“We have gone from not having loss-and-damage finance on the agenda at Cop27 to having agreement for a fund, and that is a positive result,” she said.

“However, the failure to include a phase-out of all fossil fuels in the final decision is deeply disappointing, and if states don’t deliver on emissions reductions, losses and damages will escalate beyond the scope of any fund.”

Teresa Anderson, global lead on climate justice at ActionAid, said the agreement for the fund is a “real pinch-me moment”.

“This loss-and-damage fund is long overdue, and it’s truly shocking that it has taken rich countries so long to finally agree to help those harmed by climate impacts,” she said.

“For people on the front lines of the climate crisis, this offers hope that there will be a fund to help them recover and rebuild in the aftermath of disasters. There are still battles ahead to address key unanswered questions, but for now this is a crucial starting point.”

There was no improvement in the text on fossil fuels. It’s like talking about lung cancer without talking about smoking. It’s delusional

—  Oisín Coghlan

However, Ms Anderson also criticised the “weak language” on fossil fuels.

Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and chairwoman of the Elders, said in a year of multiple crises and climate shocks, the “historic outcome” on loss and damage shows international co-operation is possible.

“Equally, the renewed commitment on the 1.5 degrees global warming limit was a source of relief. However, none of this changes the fact that the world remains on the brink of climate catastrophe,” she said.

Oisín Coghlan, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Ireland, said the fund is a “critical victory” but one that will be “hollow unless wealthy countries step up and cut emissions”.

“The biggest failure was the unwillingness to tackle fossil fuels. There was no improvement in the text on fossil fuels. It’s like talking about lung cancer without talking about smoking. It’s delusional,” he said.

Mr Coghlan said that what matters now is what is done in Ireland to make “real progress”, with the Government due to agree a new climate action plan in early December.

“We have legally binding targets. The new plan needs to be bold and brave. This is the test,” he said.

Ross Fitzpatrick, Christian Aid Ireland’s policy and advocacy officer, said the fund is “a significant win for countries on the front lines of the climate crisis and a beacon of hope that funding needed in the aftermath of climate disasters will finally be provided”.

Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan said the fund is a “huge and important step forward in a global, equitable approach to the climate crisis”.

Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan acknowledged the final text on loss and damage “is not perfect”, but said it will allow millions of people to “look forward to targeted and strengthened support”.

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is Health Correspondent of The Irish Times