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In A Historic Moment, Rich Countries Have Agreed To Pay For Climate Change Damages In Poor Countries

In a first, rich countries have agreed to create a fund to pay for the damages that poor and vulnerable countries have already been bearing the brunt of as a result of climate change.

In a first, rich countries have agreed to create a fund to pay for the damages that poor and vulnerable countries have already been bearing the brunt of as a result of climate change.

The “loss and damage” fund was announced in the early hours on Sunday Nov. 20 at COP27, the UN’s annual climate change conference, in Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheik, after two weeks of negotiations between nearly 200 countries.

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Climate activists take part in a protest during the COP27 climate summit, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, November 17, 2022. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany/File Photo

For years, wealthier nations have rejected discussing compensation for loss and damage – funding costs that countries can’t avoid or adapt to.

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Mitzi Jonelle Tan (M), a climate change activist from the Philippines, during a demonstration at the UN climate summit COP27. (Photo by Christophe Gateau/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Loss and damage refers to the harms vulnerable states are already suffering as a result of climate change, such as rising sea levels.

cop27 protest climate change loss damage bill
Activists shout slogans during a protest at the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27 on Nov. 9, 2022. (Photo by Gehad Hamdy/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The US and the European Union had held out for decades “out of fear that they could be held legally liable” for the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving global warming, the New York Times reported.

Under the deal, which was finally agreed on after marathon late-night negotiations on Sunday, countries can’t be held legally liable for payments.

cop27 activists protest climate action loss damage
A demonstration at the UN Climate Summit COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. (Photo by Christophe Gateau/picture alliance via Getty Images)

According to the deal, a new committee will be formed to figure out how the fund would work.

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Members of Pacific Island Students Fighting Climate Change (PISFCC) hold a protest during the COP27 climate conference at the Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt on Nov. 10, 2022. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images)

It would be made up of representatives from 24 countries who would work out which countries should contribute and which countries should receive the money.

The breakthrough agreement has been hailed by climate activists and Global South countries.

cop27 loss damage protest climate change
Activists protest demanding Loss and Damage reparations on the fifth day of the COP27 UN Climate Change Conference, held by UNFCCC in Sharm El-Sheikh. (Photo by Dominika Zarzycka/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“The announcement offers hope to vulnerable communities all over the world who are fighting for their survival from climate stress, and gives some credibility to the COP process.” Sherry Rehman, the minister for climate change from Pakistan said, according to the New York Times.

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Climate activists demonstrate calling upon the G20 conference to adhere to limiting global temperature rise to 1.5˚C at the Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Centre, in Egypt, during the COP27 climate conference, on Nov. 16, 2022. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

One third of the country was submerged when devastating floods hit Pakistan over summer, killing at least 119 people in a day and affecting more than 30 million people.

Pakistan contributes to less than 1% of the emissions that contribute to global warming.

The agreement also reaffirmed the existing commitment by countries to limit global warming to less than 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels in the 19th century.

cop27 protest bts climate change
Climate activists wearing masks showing the faces of the Korean K-Pop band BTS 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 Nov. 10, 2022. Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images)

However, countries failed to reach any new goals on phasing out fossil fuels and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

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Luisa Neubauer (M), German climate activist of the Fridays for Future movement, holds a placard reading “Goodbye fossil fuels” and wears a T-shirt reading “#FreeAlaa” during a demonstration at the UN Climate Summit COP27. (Photo by Christophe Gateau/picture alliance via Getty Images)

In a statement, the UN’s Secretary General António Guterres called the loss and damage fund an important step for climate justice but said the world still needed to “take a giant leap on climate ambition.”

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Demonstrators shout slogans on Nov. 9, 2022 during a protest outside the venue hosting the COP27 climate conference, at the Sharm el-Sheikh International Convention Centre, in Egypt’s Red Sea resort city of the same name. (Photo by MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images)

“Our planet is still in the emergency room,” he said. “We need to drastically reduce emissions now – and this is an issue this COP did not address.

cop27 protest climate change loss damage
Protesters demonstrate over climate justice, loss and damage, fossil fuels, human rights, exploitation by rich countries of poor countries and other climate related issues during the COP27 climate conference on Nov. 12, 2022 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

“A fund for loss and damage is essential – but it’s not an answer if the climate crisis washes a small island state off the map – or turns an entire African country to desert,” he said.

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