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Minister Eamon Ryan outside the Irish delegation's office at COP27 on 18 November Ahmed Hatem

COP27 'held the line' but more climate action still crucial - minister

The extended climate conference finally came to an agreement last night after running late into the weekend.

COP27 “HELD THE line” on climate targets but the world must go further to prevent catastrophic global warming, Minister for Climate Eamon Ryan has said.

The extended climate conference finally came to an agreement last night after running late into the weekend as countries hammered out the final details.

The main sources of clashes were how supports would be given to vulnerable countries for the loss and damage suffered because of the climate crisis and the level of commitment that would be made to the target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. 

A final statement hung onto the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels but failed on fossil fuels to go much further beyond the agreement that was reached last year at COP26 in Glasgow.

It included language on renewable energy for the first time and reiterated previous calls to accelerate “efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”.

On loss and damage, widely considered from the outset to be the litmus test of whether this COP would be considered a success or not, negotiators had broadly been in agreement that a system would be developed to support certain countries.

However, what that system would look like and which countries it would include sowed division between the G77 group of developing countries and China on one side and the European Union on the other.

Minister Eamon Ryan was made the EU’s lead negotiator on loss and damage, which ended with an agreement to create a dedicated fund that the G77 called for rather than a “mosaic” of sources that the EU had wanted, but with language requested by the EU that it would go to countries “particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change”.

In particular, whether China would be a contributor or recipient was a source of “the divide and the rows in the room over the last week”, the minister said.

The EU wanted the China to pay while developing countries’ proposal would have included it as a recipient, with the EU ultimately imposing its will on that aspect of the deal.

However, it conceded to the G77 to establish a dedicated fund for loss and damage. 

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland today, Minister Ryan said that “negotiations are about compromise and the European Union, in our negotiations, broke the deadlock when in the middle of the week we changed our position and listened particularly to the small island nations”.

“Even though we don’t think having a single fund is the be-all-and-end-all, we agreed we will establish the fund. That provided the opportunity to break the deadlock and to get the compromise in,” he said. 

However, he said the EU was not happy with the negotiations’ outcome for keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees.

“We were looking for more ambition. We held the line in terms of there wasn’t any retreat but we need to advance further.” 

Currently, the world is around 1.1 degrees warmer than pre-industrial times and is already experiencing impacts of the climate crisis, such as heatwaves, droughts and melting ice sheets. 

The Paris Agreement called for countries to try to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees and not to allow it to surpass 2 degrees, both of which would still come with challenging impacts.

“The historic outcome on loss and damage at COP27 shows international cooperation is possible,” said Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and Chair of The Elders.

“Equally, the renewed commitment on the 1.5C global warming limit was a source of relief,” she said.

“However, none of this changes the fact that the world remains on the brink of climate catastrophe.”

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