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This year’s COP27 climate conference wrapped up this weekend with a surprisingly big concession from some of the world’s biggest emitters — but climate advocates say oil and gas interests still weakened their win.

A demonstration at COP27.
A demonstration at COP27. Credit: UNclimatechange / Creative Commons

When global climate negotiators gathered this month for COP27, vulnerable countries like Pakistan, which suffered incredible flooding earlier this year, came ready to fight for climate reparations.

They wanted the world’s biggest emitters to pay up for the loss and damages their fossil fuel emissions had caused for decades. After all, many countries that stand to lose the most from climate change also can’t afford to mitigate its damage, but are responsible for only a small piece of the emissions that worsened it.

But as is typical when global powers are asked to own up to their past (and ongoing) transgressions, the U.S. and other top powers kept rejecting climate-vulnerable countries’ calls. A breakthrough only came when Scotland — last year’s climate conference host — more than tripled the loss and damage funding it pledged a year ago.

From there, the dam fell: Just a day before the conference’s scheduled end, the European Union announced it would support a polluter-funded loss and damage fund. And then, after negotiations went into overtime, organizers announced the fund would be part of the conference’s final agreement. 

Climate advocates aren’t thanking the U.S. for the win, saying its leaders tried to hold back climate reparations and avoid responsibility for its emissions.It’s still not clear how the loss and damage fund will work or where its money will come from — that’s something a committee will iron out over the next few months. And as experts warned at the conference’s close, the world is still “on the brink of climate catastrophe” even after this year’s historic pledge.

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Kathryn brings her extensive editorial background to the Energy News Network team, where she oversees the early-morning production of ENN’s five email digest newsletters as well as distribution of ENN’s original journalism with other media outlets. From documenting chronic illness’ effect on college students to following the inner workings of Congress, Kathryn has built a broad experience in her more than five years working at major publications including The Week Magazine. Kathryn holds a Bachelor of Science in magazine journalism and information management and technology from Syracuse University.