Negotiators at the United Nations climate talks said on Saturday they had reached a potentially landmark deal to set up a disaster fund that would compensate poor nations that are victims of climate damage exacerbated by rich countries’ carbon pollution.
Citing several international cabinet ministers, The Associated Press reported on Saturday that an agreement had been reached on a “losses and damages” fund.
Poorer nations often fall victim to climate catastrophes despite having contributed little to pollution.
New Zealand climate minister James Shaw told the AP that both the poor countries, who would get the money, and the rich, who would give it, were on board.
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“There is an agreement on casualties and damage,” said Maldives Environment Minister Aminath Shauna. “It means that for countries like ours, we will have the mosaic of solutions that we have been campaigning for.”
The low-lying Maldives and island nations have been disproportionately affected by the climate crisis, and the UN notes that they often have little disaster resilience.
Under the latest draft, the fund would initially draw on contributions from developed countries and other private and public sources, including international financial institutions.
While large emerging markets would initially not have to contribute, this option remains on the table and will be negotiated in the coming years.
There would also be room for middle-income countries hit by climate disasters to get help.
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If an agreement is approved, it still has to be approved unanimously later in the day.
China’s negotiators declined to comment on a possible deal.
The New York Times reported that a Biden administration official said the US was “working to sign a deal,” undoing decades of opposition.
China and the US are the two biggest CO2 polluters.
After reaching an agreement at the G-20 summit, the White House said the climate leaders of the two leaders resumed formal negotiations last week.
European negotiators told the AP they were ready to back the deal but would not say so publicly until the full package is approved.
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The Egyptian presidency proposed a new deal on Saturday, and a deal was reached within hours, although Norway’s climate and environment minister, Espen Barth Eide, said it wasn’t so much about the Egyptians as it was about countries working together.
Other issues at the conference are still being worked out as negotiators head off for what will hopefully be their final meeting. The COP27 summit has been pushed back beyond its scheduled end on Friday as countries struggled to reach a consensus.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.