Cop27: Loss-and-damage progress as pace of talks accelerates

Republic’s Minister for Climate Eamon Ryan to lead EU team on negotiations regarding litmus test issue

There are indications of a possible breakthrough on loss and damage, regarded as the critical issue at Cop27, with some progress between developing and wealthy countries on how funds might be provided to those most affected by the climate crisis.

If scaled up negotiations continue to make headway over coming days negotiators believe it will help other big issues get across the line, notably on climate mitigation in the form of increased emission reduction commitments and on adaptation supports to increase the resilience of countries to climate shocks.

Meanwhile, concerns about efforts to weaken commitments to the key Paris Agreement target of 1.5 degrees have eased. Germany’s climate envoy, Jennifer Morgan, said the inclusion of 1.5 degrees in the G20 communique “sent an important signal — to the ministers and negotiators here at Cop27 and to the whole world … The G20 stand by the Glasgow climate pact and there cannot be any rollback on this here in Sharm el-Sheikh.”

At an EU co-ordination meeting early on Wednesday Minister for Climate Eamon Ryan was asked to be the EU ministerial representative on the most crucial talks at this point — loss and damage — and to speak on behalf of the EU.


He will be working alongside European Commission vice-president Franz Timmermans, and his team, and will be supported by an Irish delegation experienced in providing loss and damage supports.

Developing countries

Mr Ryan said at a briefing the EU co-ordination team considered a proposal on loss and damage from the G-77 — which now includes more than 130 developing countries — and China.

He said, however, the EU had concerns largely based on reports from the Santiago Network that large emitting developing countries were attempting to block technical assistance for loss and damage from going to the most vulnerable countries. These large emitters were advocating that loss and damage finance could be allocated on a geographical basis and through national governments.

This, he said, would not work for the most vulnerable countries and communities, adding that they would be at real danger of them being left further behind.

Can China's relationship with the West recover?

Listen | 38:35

The Santiago Network was set up at Cop26 last year as a broad-based group dedicated to providing technical assistance for averting, minimising and addressing loss and damage in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable.

“We need a solution for a 2022 world, not a 1992 world,” said the Minister, referring to the year when the first Cop took place. “We must have a focus on the most vulnerable, and flexible ways to reach them with finance and support. It must be demand driven and targeted — to get support to those who need it most.”

He said loss and damage needs were urgent and vast and that financing had to increase. However, he warned that there was no silver bullet solution but “we could make the most of existing mechanisms to respond to loss and damage quickly … we need to listen and respond to the voices of those most exposed to climate destruction. We also need unprecedented financing, from a variety of sources, exploring taxes, levies and debt forgiveness, for example.”

Mr Ryan said he believed prioritisation must be given to countries most vulnerable to the climate crisis rather than including wealthier countries such as China under a blanket arrangement.

The EU was looking as well at an ecosystem of financial funding mechanisms, not just one fund, he said. “The key task is to turn that intent into a common text that people can rally behind. It will be difficult, it will be probably protracted over the next two days. But we’re committed to doing whatever we can to help our union and deliver a good outcome.”

India is gathering support for a proposal for countries to agree to the “phase down” of all fossil fuels. This would be instead of the “narrower” decision to “phase down coal”, agreed at the Cop26, it claims

This push for a commitment to phase down all fossil fuels has not previously featured in a final Cop and agreement has gained traction unexpectedly.

Alden Meyer, a senior associate with the thinktank E3G, said countries could put pressure on fossil fuel producers such as Saudi Arabia and Russia by pushing Cop president Egypt to insert India’s proposal into the proposed text.

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times