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“Historic win”: Bangladeshi climate campaigner hails COP27 breakthrough on loss and damage




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The COP27 climate conference at Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt is in danger of being remembered as the international summit where not enough was agreed to put the world truly on course to eliminate fossil fuels. But there was one area where more progress was made than many had expected, with agreement on a loss and damage fund, writes Political Editor Nick Powell.

“It’s an historic win to get the fund” was the reaction of climate campaigner Saleemal Huq to the one real breakthrough at COP27. The Bangladeshi director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development said that a loss and damage fund had been a demand from the most vulnerable countries for a long time but had always been blocked by developed countries.

The fund is for the countries that have benefitted the most from industrial development powered by coal, oil and gas to compensate countries worst hit by floods, drought, rising sea levels and the other consequences of climate change. Bangladesh is one of the nations most exposed to those dangers, despite having made a negligible contribution to global carbon emissions.

Professor Huq, who is based at the Independent University in Bangladesh, said that the difference this time was the unity of the developing countries in pressing for the fund, though he added that “now we need to build on it and make it actually deliver something to the people who are suffering”.

A year ago, at COP26 in Glasgow in Scotland, Saleemul Huq was warning that the COP process had failed as “we’ve done it 26 times and climate change is happening as we speak”, arguing that it was no longer simply a question of adaptation and mitigation as loss and damage was occurring.

He’d said merely agreeing to a dialogue to discuss loss and damage was absolutely unacceptable when he was talking about some of the most vulnerable people on the planet. Much will now depend on how soon, how much and how often the world’s richer nations contribute to the fund.

The leader of the European Parliament’s delegation in Sharm el Sheikh, Green MEP Bas Eickhout, singled out the loss and damage fund as COP27’s sole achievement. “The EU showed leadership and broke the deadlock by declaring itself in favour of a fund. As a result the COP achieved something after all”, he said.


“I remain sad that we are so far from achieving the Paris climate goal but I am optimistic that, despite all the prophesies of doom, the multilateral process has not collapsed. There is progress and hope for more”, Bas Eickhout added, nevertheless describing COP27 as a “missed opportunity”.

“The longer we cling to coal, oil and gas, the more catastrophic the consequences of climate change and in the end the costs will be. The decision on the establishment of a loss and damage fund is an important political signal but will still be at the centre of many discussions at the conferences to come”, he said.

He warned that it was still unclear which countries will be paying into the fund and which ones will be eligible for support, which should reach the most vulnerable people and those hardest hit by climate change.

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