SETH BORENSTEIN, SAMY MAGDY and FRANK JORDANS (Associated Press)

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — Negotiators early Sunday approved a historic deal that would create a fund to compensate poor nations that are victims of extreme weather conditions made worse by rich countries’ coal pollution, but overall still there was a greater agreement in the air due to the fight over efforts to reduce emissions.

Once the decision on the fund was approved, talks were suspended for 30 minutes to allow delegates to review the texts of the other measures they were due to vote on.

The decision establishes a fund to cover what negotiators call losses and damages. This is a big win for poorer countries, which have long been demanding cash – sometimes seen as reparations – as they often fall prey to climate-destroying floods, droughts, heatwaves, famines and storms, despite contributing little to the pollution that heats the atmosphere . globe.

This has also long been called a climate justice issue.

“We hope this is how our 30-year journey finally ends today,” said Pakistani Climate Minister Sherry Rehman, who has often led the world’s poorest nations. A third of her nation was submerged in a devastating flood this summer, and she and other officials used the motto: “What happened in Pakistan will not stay in Pakistan.”

Maldives’ Environment Minister Aminath Shauna told the AP on Saturday, “this means that for countries like ours, we will have a patchwork of solutions that we have advocated.”

External experts hailed the decision as historic.

“This loss and damage fund will be a lifeline for poor families whose homes have been destroyed, farmers whose fields are destroyed and islanders forced to leave their ancestral homes,” said Ani Dasgupta, president of the environmental think tank World Resources Institute, minutes after the disaster . early morning approval. “This positive outcome of COP27 is an important step towards rebuilding confidence in vulnerable countries.”

This is a reflection of what can be done when the poorest nations remain united, said Alex Scott, an expert on climate diplomacy at the E3G think tank.

“I think it’s huge for governments to come together to actually work out at least the first step … how to deal with the problem of loss and damage,” Scott said. But as with all financial climate funds, it’s one thing to set up a fund and another thing to have money flowing in and out, she said. The developed world has still not kept its 2009 promise to spend $100 billion a year on other climate aid – designed to help poor nations develop green energy and adapt to future warming.

The deal “gives hope to vulnerable people that they will be helped to rebuild their lives after climate disasters,” said Harjeet Singh, head of global policy strategy at Climate Action Network International.

“Losses and damages are a way of both recognizing past damage and compensating for that damage in the past,” said Dartmouth climatologist Justin Mankin, who calculated the dollar amounts for warming in each country. “These damages are scientifically traceable.”

“In many ways, we’re talking about reparations,” said University of Maryland environmental health and justice professor Sacoby Wilson. “It’s the right term,” he said, because the rich countries of the north benefit from fossil fuels, while the poorer global south suffers from floods, droughts, climate refugees and famine.

The Egyptian presidency, which has been criticized by all sides, proposed a new loss and damage deal on Saturday afternoon and an agreement was reached within hours, but the Norwegian negotiator said it was not so much the Egyptians as the cooperating countries.

German Climate Envoy Jennifer Morgan and Chilean Environment Minister Maisa Rojas, who brought the agreement to the agenda and finish line, hugged after passing, posed for a photo and said “yes, we made it!”

Under the agreement, the fund would initially be based on contributions from developed countries and other private and public sources such as international financial institutions. While initially large emerging economies such as China would not be required to contribute, this option remains valid and will be negotiated in the coming years. This is a key demand from the European Union and the United States, which argue that China and other large polluters, now classified as developing countries, have the financial power and obligation to pay.

The fund would largely target the most vulnerable countries, although there would be room to get help for middle-income countries that have been severely hit by climate disasters.

Tired and tearful delegations began to fill the plenary chamber at 4am local time on Sunday, with no overarching decision in sight.

Ahead of the final session, battle lines were drawn over India’s request to amend last year’s deal that called for the phase-out of “relentless coal” to include phase-out of oil and natural gas, two other fossil fuels that produce heat-trapping gases. While European nations and other countries continue to push for the language, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Nigeria insist that it is not allowed.

“We have overtime. The mood was good before. I think more people are more frustrated with the lack of progress,” Norwegian Climate Change Minister Espen Barth Eide told the Associated Press. He said it came down to tightening fossil fuel emissions and sticking to the target of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times, as agreed at last year’s Glasgow climate summit.

“Some of us are trying to say that we actually need to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees, and that requires some action. For example, we need to reduce the use of fossil fuels,” said Eide. “But there is a very strong fossil fuel lobby… trying to block every language we make. So it’s quite clear.

There was strong concern among developed and developing countries about proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, known as mitigation. Officials said the language presented by Egypt backed away from some of the commitments made at last year’s UN climate conference in Glasgow, which aimed to maintain the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times. The world has already warmed by 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) since the mid-19th century.

Some of the Egyptian language about mitigation apparently reverted to the 2015 Paris Agreement, which happened before scientists realized how important the 1.5 degree threshold was and made strong mention of the weaker target of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). , which is why scientists and Europeans are afraid of a rollback, said climatologist Maarten van Aalst of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Center for Climate.

Ireland’s Environment Minister Eamon Ryan said: “We need to get a deal on 1.5 degrees. We need strong mitigation wording and that’s what we’re going to push for.”

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Wanjohi Kabukuru, David Keyton, Theodora Tongas and Kelvin Chan contributed to this report.

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The Associated Press covers climate and the environment, which receives support from several private foundations. More information on the AP Climate Initiative can be found here. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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