By Mekonnen Teshome

The global decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Conference of the Parties (COP), concluded its COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, with a historic agreement to provide ‘loss and damage’ climate change funding to vulnerable countries hit hard by climate disasters.

But, still some questions remain to be answered regarding the Sharm El-Sheikh Compensation agreement – how comprehensive is the agreement and how urgently could rich countries implement it?

Tibebu Assefa, C40 Cities Regional Air Quality Technical Advisor for East Africa, based in Addis Ababa, is one of Ethiopian climate change experts who are concerned about the comprehensiveness of the COP27 Compensation agreement as well as the sufficiency of the funds promised to developed countries.

Assefa said that Parties at COP27 have been discussing the progress towards achieving the USD100 billion per year commitment for developing countries, mainly on the basis of the UNFCCC Standing Committee on financing loss and damage.

However, the expert said that the UN Environment Program (UNEP) estimated that annual adaptation needs are USD 160-340 billion by 2030 and USD 315-565 billion by 2050.

The goal of developed country Parties to mobilize jointly USD 100 billion per year by 2020 has not yet been met, with developed countries urged to meet the goal. He said that there was a huge gap between the required finance to meet the targets and the pledge.

“The scale of all of these announcement’s contrasts with the magnitude of public finance aiming at climate transitions. Developed countries have to demonstrate and be creditable to deliver their climate pledge obligations. The conversations on climate finance are critical to accelerate ambition and implementation of climate pledges, and to promote transitions away from fossil fuels in light of equity and justice,” Assefa said.

He indicated that the developed nations should be committed to their climate pledge and to work on mitigation, adaptation and compensate the loss and damage.

“It is a great milestone that the COP 27 came up with a good outcome with a historic first agreement to set up a fund for loss and damage in supporting poor countries adapt the devastating impacts of climate change for,” Assefa added.

On the other hand, many climate change experts say that establishing a specific funding scheme for loss and damage marked an important point of progress, however, the agreement has overlooked the root cause for climate change which is the prevalent fossil fuels extraction and utilization.

COP27 President Sameh Shoukry speaking in Sharm el-Sheikh, said that the Adaptation Agenda is meant to build  resilience for people living in the most climate-vulnerable communities by 2030 and the UN Climate Change’s Standing Committee on Finance was requested to prepare a report on doubling adaptation finance for consideration at COP28 next year.

The financial compensation funds are planned to benefit victims of climate change and its impacts – flash floods, droughts, heat waves, famines and storms among others.

Similarly, Bariru Emanuel, a climate change expert appreciates the historic decision to establish a Loss and Damage fund, nevertheless, he pointed out that the agreement disregarded the burning of fossil fuels which results in global warming and is behind climate change and its harmful impacts.

As a result, Emanuel underscores, it can be concluded that the agreement clinched at COP27 is not comprehensive and wide ranging to include all elements of climate change and global warming as well as the root causes such as the use of fossil fuel.

The expert indicated that the parties at COP27 mainly focused on the ways to move forward on the global goal on adaptation not so much on mitigating the causes of global warming.

According to Emanuel, the other limitation of the agreement is that it does not specify the modalities of the funding scheme and how it trickles down to the end beneficiaries.

Tadesse Shewakena Weldemelak, geologist and director, Drilling & Pumping Test Directorate at the Ethiopian Water Well Drilling Enterprise, also underscores that the money that comes from the established climate change compensation should be disbursed in a very short time  to people who are affected most by climate change to make them more resilient and give them more options to deal with future shocks.

He notes that people in Sub-Saharan Africa in general and in the Eastern Africa in particular might face severe failed rains and drought this year according to climate predictions.