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For island nations, giving up on climate fund 'not an option'

By AFP - Nov 16,2022 - Last updated at Nov 16,2022

A man rides a bicycle outside the Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Centre, in Egypt's Red Sea resort city of the same name, during the COP27 climate conference, on Tuesday (AFP photo)

SHARM AL SHEIKH — Small island states whose existence is threatened by rising seas insist they will not leave UN climate talks without a fund to contain the impacts of global warming, a chief negotiator told AFP on Wednesday.

Financing has become a hot-button issue at the COP27 climate talks, with developing nations demanding rich polluters pay for climate-change linked calamities that are already devastating vulnerable populations, known as "loss and damage". 

Rising sea levels, driven by warming, threaten to eventually swallow some small island states — and for them the issue of compensation for cultural and economic losses is crucial. 

"We have given up a lot," said Conrod Hunte of Antigua and Barbuda, lead negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).

"For us to walk away... from here with nothing is not an option."

On Tuesday, the G-77+China bloc of more than 130 developing nations presented a document saying the need for a specific loss and damage fund was "urgent and immediate". 

The United States and the European Union agreed to allow the issue onto the formal agenda at COP27 this year. 

The large historical polluters fear open ended liabilities and have made clear their reluctance to create a fund immediately, preferring discussion on the details to continue into next year and maybe to 2024. 

But the G-77+China bloc want the fund to be agreed upon at this meeting, with the details worked out in time for next year's COP28 in Dubai.

Apart from relatively small pledges from a handful of developed countries and regions, little has been discussed on the potential level of funding, and where it would come from. 

"It's important that we have a fund and have a fund established at this COP to keep the momentum going," Hunte said. 

Negotiations on the specific fund proposals have barely got off the ground, with just days left until the meeting is due to officially close on Friday. 

"We're hoping that they [rich nations] are able to accommodate some of our priorities," Hunte said. "And our priorities from day one have not changed".

"We're here to establish at least an agreement [to work] towards a fund."

'Screaming' 

 

He's hoping some EU nations will be "flexible" in the talks, and help convince other Western powers to cede. 

While "the EU negotiates as a bloc, there may be five or six countries in there who are actually in support of a fund", he said. 

"They may be forced to convince their partners within that group that [they] may need to give this fund at this COP," he said, adding that developing nations were "overwhelmingly screaming" for the fund. 

One call from wealthy nations is that the pool of international donors paying into climate funding be expanded — this would likely include large emitters like China. 

China, the world's biggest carbon polluter, is considered a developing country in the context of the talks and therefore not among the group of developed nations expected to pay. 

Hunte said Beijing fully supports the creation of a loss and damage fund, adding that AOSIS was not calling for China to contribute financially. 

He acknowledged that even if developing countries get a breakthrough on loss and damage at the Egypt meeting, key details need to be worked out later, with the aim of "finalising everything" before 2024. 

That includes "non-economic" losses like disappearing culture, fading traditions or historical sites being submerged. 

"That is something we will have to negotiate, but at least you would have signalled the fact that there is a loss."

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