Perhaps the biggest success coming out of the UN Climate Talks, COP27, was the one least likely to succeed — the creation of a Loss and Damage Fund. To be held responsible for another’s loss and damages, such a fund should have been a nonstarter in a society quick to litigate. And it nearly was when some rich nations attempted to divide developing countries.
Pakistan succeeded in keeping countries united, for their diplomats had witnessed the devastation and floods, which caused $30 billion of damages and economic losses. They were experienced in maintaining discipline in the group of 77 (which essentially includes all developing nations led by Pakistan) and savvy in attempts to turn the Alliance of Small Island States against others and accept a narrow fund. Fortunately, the G77 remained strong and did not stray from its message: “Loss and damage is not charity. It’s about climate justice.”
Much credit for successfully setting up a Loss and Damage Fund is also due to civil society pressure from more than 1,900 organizations from 130 countries.
“Pakistan led from the front. But civil society pressure gave power to negotiators inside the conference rooms to fight harder,” said Harjeet Singh, the global political director at Climate Action Network.
UN Climate Secretary Antonio Guterres, in his closing remarks, was spot on, saying: “The red line we must not cross is the line that takes our planet over the 1.5-degree temperature limit… We can and must win this battle for our lives.”
However, he misconstrued the skilled and collaborative work of the COP27 delegates and advocates to perpetuate a real problem when he also said in closing remarks: “It will take each and every one of us fighting in the trenches each and every day.”
Fighting climate change must not be about people fighting with people. This metaphor makes us quick to lay blame, scapegoat, and make it personal. My actions are better than yours, and I hate you for not doing it my way. Rather, we are all on the same side, fighting to reduce the burden of too much carbon in the atmosphere. As in COP27, we will only succeed by working with respect for others and in concert with one another.
If we must use military analogies, think Top Gun, where we all are skilled stewards flying fast in formation. It’s not the destination. The exhilaration of fast flight, the air beneath our wings, and the fellowship of achievements as a tight team keeps us on course, returning to COP meetings and striving for a healthier planet.
It’s not the plane; it’s the pilot — roger that.