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Cop27: US Called Out For Blocking ‘loss And Damage’ Funds; NZ Announces Lost Land Fund – Live

Climate experts call out US for blocking ‘loss and damage’ fundsNina Lakhani

As the US climate envoy John Kerry walked the halls of the conference centre today, civil society climate experts called out “America’s decades-long game plan of denial, delay and deception” when it comes to ‘loss and damage’.

In what’s clearly become the red line for climate-vulnerable countries and climate justice advocates, Harjeet Singh, a senior adviser at the Climate Action Network (CAN), said:

The US has for decades acted in bad faith with regards to loss and damage, but the delays and deception have real life consequences. We need to agree on a funding facility at this Cop so we can work on making it operational by 2024, and the US needs to change from being obstructive to constructive.

Loss and damage refers to the money needed to cover the vast economic, cultural and social consequences of the climate crisis that have already happened or are too late to avert with either adaptation or mitigation – impacts mostly being experienced by the countries that have least contributed to the greenhouse gases causing global heating. For years, the US and other large polluters including the EU, UK, Canada, and Australia have used their political and economic muscle to block and delay progress on setting up such a fund that is desperately needed by island nations and other vulnerable countries.

Amid growing criticism, Kerry softened his language in the run-up to the summit, claiming that the US is open to discussions on loss and damage. After a hard-fought battle over the weekend, it is on the Cop agenda for the first time. But the US is pushing for another two years of dialogue – a delayRachel Rose Jackson from the Union of Concerned Scientists said would be a “severe, unjust blow for those suffering the worst effects of the climate crisis”.

Jackson added:

The litmus test for Cop27 is meaningful progress on loss and damage, which means the US needs to stop obstructing so we can establish a funding facility this year.

Separately, Austria announced $50m for climate loss and damage, shortly after Scotland’s first minister pledged an additional £5m to support developing countries with direct finance to cope with the unavoidable, devastating impacts of the climate crisis. This means that five European countries – Austria, Scotland, Belgium, Denmark and Germany – have committed to fund the loss and damage finance mechanism that the US wants to avoid.

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Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley has celebrated that ‘loss and damage’ – the idea that developed countries that grew rich off fossil fuels should pay poorer countries – has been added to the agenda of Cop27.

Barbados PM hails ‘loss and damage’ addition to climate agenda at Cop27 – videoHere’s an explainer on the term ‘loss and damage’, which is quite simple but confusing without context:

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has spoken to the summit from Kyiv.

“There can be no effective climate policy without peace,” he said.

Russia’s invasion has caused chaos in global energy supplies, food prices and Ukraine’s forests, he said.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, president of Ukraine, speaks via video at the Cop27 UN Climate Summit. Photograph: Peter de Jong/APAlaa Abd el-Fattah’s family fear he may be being force-fed in Egyptian prison

Ruth Michaelson

The family of jailed British-Egyptian hunger-striker Alaa Abd el-Fattah have voiced fears that Egyptian officials may be torturing him behind closed doors through force-feeding.

On the sidelines of the Cop27 climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi reportedly told the French president, Emmanuel Macron, that he was “committed” to ensuring the democracy activist’s health “is preserved” and that “the next few weeks and months will bring results”.

Abd el-Fattah was due to be on his third day without water as Cop27 continued, after more than six months on a hunger strike during which he consumed fewer than 100 calories a day.

“I’m really worried from these comments that they’re implying they will be force-feeding Alaa. Force-feeding is torture, and nothing should happen that’s against Alaa’s will,” Sanaa Seif, Abd el-Fattah’s sister, said.

“We need proof of life. The scenario I imagine is that Alaa is handcuffed somewhere and put on an intravenous drip against his will. That would be torture, and he shouldn’t be living that. The solution is simply just to let the British embassy see him.”

Mexico will try to ‘deceive the world’ at Cop27, experts warnNina Lakhani

Mexico, one of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters, is expected to announce a hotchpotch of old, inadequate and undeliverable climate promises that will leave its Paris pledges in tatters, experts have warned.

Climate action has nosedived under the leadership of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who had to be blocked from rolling back Mexico’s modest Paris greenhouse gas targets by the country’s supreme court, and emissions are rising.

John Kerry, the US climate envoy, said last week that the Mexican president, also known as Amlo, would make a major announcement on the country’s climate commitments during Cop27. No official announcement has yet been made, and Amlo is not expected to attend the UN summit in Egypt, but reports suggest that the announcements will include:

A reduction in methane emissions from the state-owned oil company, Pemex – an important but existing target for which Pemex has been fined for non-compliance.

A 1,000MW state-opened solar plant – construction is already under way for a 180MW project, and the government had previously already ruled out further investment to expand the energy potential.

A lithium commitment. Mexico has the ninth-largest identified deposits of lithium – a crucial mineral for electric vehicles and other green technologies – but there has been no government investment so far in advancing extraction, and none is currently being mined. Experts say the country is years away from producing its first gram of lithium.

“It’s highly likely that the Mexican government will try to deceive the entire world at Cop27 with false actions and projects that will never be built,” said Carlos Flores, a renewable energy expert in Mexico. “We are not going to meet our current pledges, never mind anything more ambitious.”

Damian Carrington

There have been many extreme weather disasters this year made more severe or more likely by the climate crisis, but none on the devastating scale of the floods in Pakistan. At Cop27, Shehbaz Sharif, the prime minister of Pakistan, laid bare the impact and just how high the stakes are at this UN climate meeting, warning other countries they could face a similar fate.

Shehbaz Sharif said:

The catastrophic floods impacted 33 million people, more than half our women and children, [covering] the size of three European countries. Despite seven times the average of extreme rain in the south, we struggled on as raging torrents ripped out over 8,000km of metal roads, damaged more than 3,000km of railway track and washed away standing crops on 4m acres and ravaged all of the four corners of Pakistan.

An estimate of damage of loss has exceeded $30bn and this all happened despite our very low carbon footprints. We became a victim of something with which we had nothing to do, and of course it was a manmade disaster.

While we were grappling and fighting against these torrential floods, we had to import wheat, palm oil and of course very expensive oil and gas – spending about $30bn to $32bn. We redirected our meagre resources to meet the basic needs of millions of [people] and had to dish out about $316m. Now winter is settling in and we need to provide shelter homes and medical treatment and food package to millions of people.

Imagine on one hand we have to cater for food security for the common man by spending billions of dollars and on the other we have to spend billions of dollars to protect flood-affected people from further miseries and difficulties. How on earth can one expect from us that we will undertake this gigantic task on our own?

The delivery of money from the rich, polluting nations to the poorer, vulnerable nations has become the critical issue at Cop27 – read more here.

The Guardian’s senior climate justice reporter, Nina Lakhani, is moderating a panel at Cop27 on climate justice and human rights.

Panellists include the heads of the two major global human rights groups, Amnesty International (Agnès Callamard) and Human Rights Watch (Tirana Hassan).

Sanaa Seif, the sister of the jailed British-Egyptian activist Alaa Abd el-Fattah, and Hossam Bahgat, the executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, are also speaking.

You can watch it live here:

New Zealand announces NZ$20m fund for lost land and resources

Tess McClure

New Zealand has announced a $20m climate fund for land and resources lost by developing countries to the effects of the climate crisis.

“Comparatively wealthy countries like Aotearoa New Zealand have a duty to support countries most at-risk from climate change. The best way to do that is to cut climate pollution, but so too must we support communities to cope with the unavoidable impacts of the climate crisis,” said foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta.

The government said it was one of only three countries to dedicate such funding so far.

The bulk of the fund will likely be distributed in the Pacific, where New Zealand has close partnerships and “the loss of land and resources from sea-level rise is a well-known threat,” said Mahuta. “Loss and damage is happening to homes and crops and fisheries, but it also happens to cultures, languages, people’s mental health and their physical wellbeing.”

Cop27 is likely to discuss a centralised fund for international commitments for loss and damage in poorer countries. Mahuta said New Zealand was “not opposed to this” but would “also support a wide range of funding arrangements to make best use of our contribution”.

Readers – or rather, non-readers – if you have recently joined and are looking for a concise and focused way to catch up, then listen to this podcast.

Made by our colleagues at Guardian Australia, it is a fantastic explainer of what is happening at Cop27, and what is at stake. (Spoiler: Everything)

A reader has emailed me to ask if we know what temperature rise the world is “on track” for.

“Where does the current state of play lead us to?” the reader asks.

Unfortunately, the UN said just last week that current pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions will lead to global heating of 2.5C, a level that would condemn the world to catastrophic climate breakdown.

That is based on governments fulfilling their pledges, and even then, it is far above the 1.5C goal, which would avoid the worst ravages of extreme weather.

UN experts demand crackdown on greenwashing of net zero pledges

Adam Morton

A UN group set up to crack down on the greenwashing of net zero pledges by industry and government has called for “red lines” to stop support for new fossil fuel exploration and overuse of carbon offsets.

The “high-level expert group”, created in March by the UN secretary general, António Guterres, to advise on rules to improve integrity and transparency in net zero commitments by industry, regions and cities, said climate plans must include deep cuts in greenhouse gases before 2030, and not delay action until closer to 2050.

It stressed serious commitments must prioritise immediate cuts in absolute emissions, with the use of carbon offsets – an often controversial practice that allows companies and governments to pay for cuts elsewhere instead of reducing their own pollution – to be used sparingly in later years, if at all. Rules were needed to ensure offsets were high-quality and came from a reliable and verifiable source, the group said.

The group of experts was created after widespread concern about greenwashing, including claims by major fossil fuel companies that they were aiming for net zero emissions by 2050 while backing new coal, oil and gas developments and relying heavily on offsets.

A Guardian investigation this year revealed that ​​oil and gas companies, including several with net zero pledges, were still planning vast new developments that would push the world well beyond the goals of the landmark 2015 Paris agreement.

Damian Carrington

My colleague and Environment editor, Damian Carrington, has been speaking to the creator of this remarkable sculpture at Cop27:

View of main stage at Cop27’s Health Pavilion, hosted by the World Health Organization. Featuring in the image: central sculpture Bodies Joined by a Molecule of Air (2022) by Invisible Flock and Jon Bausor, 2022. Photograph: Invisible Flock“We are the environment and the environment is us – we can’t be separated,” says artist Victoria Pratt, part of the Invisible Flock collective, who made a striking sculpture for the World Health Organization’s health pavilion at Cop27.

“The sculpture is both a lung and a tree,” she says. It was made by casting fallen branches in metal, and then inverting them to resemble a giant lung. The parallel between the bronchioles of the lung and the branches of the tree is fractal growth patterns, which are shared by humans, plants and animals.

“We wanted something that was both scientific and metaphorical,” Pratt said. The sculpture, titled Bodies Joined by a Molecule of Air and cast in Lebanon, also pulsates to the touch, like a human body.

Other artworks at the WHO pavilion include tiny bottles of tears in which algae from the North Sea grows, along with notes from the artist Kasia Molga on why she cried at the time each tiny glass bottle was filled. “Can environmental health be an indicator of our own health?” she asks.

Kasia Molga’s How To Make An Ocean (2019), one of the artworks on display at the WHO Health Pavilion at Cop27, curated by Invisible Flock. Photograph: Invisible FlockIn another piece, a podcast weaves bees buzzing in the high-swinging hives of Mau Forest, Kenya, with the singing and speech of the Ogiek indigenous community for whom honey is an intrinsic part of their culture.

Dr Maria Neira, WHO director of public health and environment, says the climate crisis and health are intimately connected: “The price of not taking decisions to fight climate change is paid by our lungs, when you breathe polluted air, and many other organs. I think health will be the final motivation that has been missing from the 26 previous Cops. I don’t see what else can be.”

Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, a WHO clean air advocate, also spoke at the event. Her daughter Ella was the first person to have air pollution cited as a cause of death, when she died in London aged nine in 2013. “Ella would want you to think about all those we could save in the future,” Kiss-Debrah says. “Every minute, a child dies from air pollution, but they don’t have a voice. I hope Ella is a voice for them.” The pavilion features a film about Ella, currently being shown at the Wellcome Collection in London, UK.

Omnia El Omrani is the youth envoy for the Cop27 president and a doctor in Cairo and says she sees her patients suffering from air pollution and increasing heat: “We see first-hand that climate change is not just an environmental problem, but a health problem.”

Neira’s message to those at COP27 is simple:

If they take the right decisions, our health will gain. If they take the wrong decisions, our health will lose.

An international report published in October said the health of the world’s people is at the mercy of a global addiction to fossil fuels and found an increase in heat deaths, hunger and infectious disease as the climate crisis intensifies.

After pressure, Egypt unblocks access to Human Rights Watch website

Ruth Michaelson

For the first time in years, Egypt has unblocked access to the Human Rights Watch website, a day after the Guardian described how delegates at Cop27 were unable to access it during the conference.

BREAKING: Human Rights Watch website and others are unblocked in #Egypt for the first time in several years. Egyptians can now access the facts about the government’s clampdown on environmental groups and other abuses. Live from #COP27 @hrw

— Shantha Rau Barriga (@ShanthaHRW) November 8, 2022 Yet the website of Mada Masr, Egypt’s lone independent news outlet, which has endured raids on its offices and repeated attacks by the Egyptian state, remains blocked on the conference internet.

Mada Masr and HRW’s websites, along with more than 600 others – some estimates put the figure as high as 700 – have been blocked in the country since 2017, after Egypt began using Canadian technology to stop access to a broad swath of news, political and human rights websites several years ago. The block also came in tandem with a prolonged crackdown on civil society in Egypt, forcing many activists and rights defenders to flee the country, while others faced travel bans and arrest for their work.

The lack of access to information represents Egypt’s attempt to prevent Cop27 attendees from accessing information about the country’s dismal human rights record.

Conference attendees said the website block at Cop27 had curtailed their ability to work.

While the unblocking of HRW’s website during the conference is good news for the next couple of weeks, the test will come after the summit when Egyptcould decide to block the website again, outside of the focus that Cop27 brings on the crackdown on free expression.

Egyptian officials have never provided any public explanation about why they block websites, and local activists have said they fear reprisals for attending the UN climate talks in Sharm el-Sheikh.

Here is yesterday’s story on the Cop27 internet restrictions:

Here is the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, calling on the global north to follow the EU’s example and commit to climate financing in the global south.

“Team Europe is providing its fair share of the $100bn promise,” she said.

“It is doable and we call on others to step up too.”

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