22 Nov 2022

Tuvalu minister hails Loss and Damage fund but fight for action continues

10:47 am on 22 November 2022
Tuvalu's Finance Minister Seve Paeniu shows a photo of his grandchildren as he speaks during an intervention at an informal plenary during the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 13, 2021.


Tuvalu's Finance Minister has labelled the outcome of the COP27 Loss and Damage fund an historic breakthrough.

COP27 wrapped up in Egypt on Sunday, where a loss and damages fund was announced. All other goals including climate finance, the "1.5 to stay alive" target and reducing emissions were forgotten.

After two weeks of tough negotiations at the UN climate summit, Seve Paeniu said Pacific nations have had a victory.

"We have been calling for this fund for the past three decades, so it has been a long time coming and finally this COP has delivered what we have been calling for for many years. So this is a major breakthrough and a victory for the Pacific island countries," said Paeniu, who is also the Pacific climate champion on loss and damage.

The fund could see the richest, and worst carbon polluting countries, contributing to the cost of climate loss and damage that developing nations have incurred.

"It has been greatly satisfying at this COP to secure an agreement for establishing a fund for Loss and Damage. This is a major achievement not only for COP but more so for Pacific Island nations and small island and developing states around the world," he said.

With the fund now officially set up, the next 12 months will be crucial in setting up the fund, Paeniu said.

"All Pacific countries should be involved in one way or another to ensure the fund works to meet our needs in the Pacific," he said.

Fight to keep 1.5 degrees alive not over

Some leaders, meanwhile, are continuing to call for more action.

The Marshall Islands' climate envoy, Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner, said world leaders need to take more responsibility and phase out fossil fuels immediately.

"This is huge progress, but we are also not doing enough to reduce the Loss and Damage that will affect us in the future .... if we fail to reduce emissions."

And Seve Paeniu said despite the Loss and Damage gain, leaders have left with disappointment as not all of their calls were heard at the UN climate summit.

"The other issues the Pacific Islands have been fighting for in this COP was to accelerate action on mitigation and ambition in order to keep 1.5 target alive," he said.

There is a long road ahead to make sure next year's UN climate summit will achieve meaningful progress.

"Regrettably at this COP, this had been a contentious issue amongst some of the negotiation groups and therefore it is quite unfortunate that in the final outcomes document the mitigation action has been severely compromised.

"What we have been calling for has not been picked up in the cover decision text and we have been calling for phasing out of fossil fuels, we have been calling for the peaking of emissions before 2025 and we have been calling for quantifiable and measurable methane emissions reduction targets and none of this made it into the final text," he said.

Climate expert derides lack of real progress

University of Otago professor and climate finance and energy expert Ivan Diaz-Rainey told RNZ the Loss and Damage fund was really the only "stand out" item from COP27 and no other progress has been made.

While the fund had been announced, Diaz-Rainey said there was still a lot to be agreed around who would contribute and how much and he didn't expect any answers until COP28 in a year's time in the United Arab Emirates.

In terms of the "1.5 to stay alive" target, Diaz-Rainey said "official communication" said it was still possible but he was less optimistic.

"I think we're beyond 1.5 but I think there's a nervousness about having people acknowledge that because people may say 'well we give up now' but there is absolutely no reason to give up."

Climate activists held demonstration in front of International Convention Center to protest the negative effects of climate change, as the UN climate summit COP27 continues in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on 19 November, 2022.

Photo: AFP / Mohamed Abdel Hamid / Anadolu Agency

Climate activists demonstrate at the Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Centre, in Egypt's Red Sea resort city of the same name, during the COP27 climate conference on November 17, 2022.

Climate activists during the COP27 climate conference in Egypt. Photo: AFP / Fayez Nureldine

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