Critics lament COP27 deal lack of ambition

Countries have adopted a hard-fought final agreement at the COP27 climate summit that sets up a fund to help poor countries being battered by natural disasters - but does not boost efforts to tackle the emissions causing them.

After tense negotiations that ran through the night, the Egyptian COP27 presidency released the final text for a deal and simultaneously called a plenary session to quickly gavel it through.

The swift approval for creating a dedicated loss and damage fund left many of the most controversial decisions on the fund until next year, including who should pay into it.

Negotiators made no objections as COP27 President Sameh Shoukry rattled through the final agenda items.

By the time dawn broke over the summit venue in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday, the deal was done.

Despite having no agreement for tougher emissions reductions, "we went with what the agreement was here because we want to stand with the most vulnerable", Germany's climate secretary Jennifer Morgan said.

Delegates praised the breakthrough in setting up the fund, calling it climate justice for its aim of helping vulnerable countries cope with storms, floods and other disasters fuelled by rich nations' carbon emissions.

Asked by Reuters whether the goal of stronger climate-fighting ambition had been compromised for the deal, Mexico's chief climate negotiator Camila Zepeda summed up the mood among exhausted negotiators.

"Probably. You take a win when you can," she said.

The two-week summit has been seen as a test of global resolve to fight climate change - as a war in Europe, energy market turmoil and rampant consumer inflation distract international attention.

Billed as the "African COP", the summit had promised to highlight the plight of poor countries facing the most severe consequences from global warming caused mainly by wealthy, industrialised nations.

The United States also supported the loss and damage provision but climate envoy John Kerry did not attend the session after testing positive for COVID-19.

Negotiators from the European Union and other countries had said they were worried about efforts to block measures to strengthen last year's Glasgow Climate Pact.

"It is more than frustrating to see overdue steps on mitigation and the phase-out of fossil energies being stonewalled by a number of large emitters and oil producers," German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in a statement.

The approved deal did not contain a reference requested by India and other delegations to phase down the use of "all fossil fuels".

Instead, it called on countries to take steps toward "the phase down of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies" as agreed at the COP26 Glasgow summit.

"Too many parties are not ready to make more progress today in the fight against climate crisis," EU climate policy chief Frans Timmermans said, describing the deal as "not enough of a step forward for people and planet".

The text included a reference to "low-emissions energy", raising concern it opened the door to the growing use of natural gas - a fossil fuel that leads to both carbon dioxide and methane emissions.

"It does not break with Glasgow completely but it doesn't raise ambition at all," Norway's Climate Minister Espen Barth Eide told reporters.

Small island nations facing a climate-driven rise in sea level had pushed for the loss and damage deal but lamented the lack of ambition on curbing emissions.

"I recognise the progress we made in COP27" in establishing the fund ... but "we have failed on mitigation", Maldives climate minister Aminath Shauna told the plenary.

"We have to ensure that we increase ambition to peak emissions by 2025," she said.

"We have to phase out fossil fuel."