COP27: Scotland leads on cash for poor countries suffering worst climate damage, urging rich countries to pay up

Financial help for poor countries which have suffered loss and damage as a result of climate change must be made available immediately, should not rack up further debt or cause harm, and needs to be fair, transparent and accessible to all, a new Scottish report has found.

The findings from the report by the Scottish Government have been shared with international delegates at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt. The document was created following a Government conference on loss and damage, and has been unveiled as the issue appears on the official agenda for the first time at the annual United Nations talks.

Scotland became the first developed country to commit funding for loss and damage, a contentious issue, when Nicola Sturgeon announced at COP26 in Glasgow last year that £2 million of reparation grants would be made available to help poorer nations cope with the unavoidable, devastating impacts of the climate crisis. Now, in Sharm El-Sheikh 12 months on, the First Minister has added another £5m to the fund.

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Austria followed suit a few hours later, pledging $50m [£43m] of support and bringing the total number of countries which have agreed to provide loss and damage funding to five – Belgium, Denmark and Germany have also set aside cash. However, the money promised so far is way short of the annual bill, estimated at around $1.3 trillion [£1.1 trillion].

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The Scottish leader’s latest announcement came amid criticism from opposition politicians over her attendance at the international summit. Conservative MSP Liam Kerr claimed she had “no real reason to go” since the UK was being represented by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who has travelled to Egypt after previously saying he would not be there. But Ms Sturgeon hit back, insisting Scotland has an important role in the fight to curb climate change. “It is really important that everybody with a part to play does that to the full,” she said.

The First Minister is attending a number of events at COP27, although Scotland does not have its own seat at the negotiating table. The £7m of Scottish funding will be available in the form of grants rather than loans to ensure no extra debt burden for recipients, with spending directed by affected communities.

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Payments will address a range of impacts, including slow-onset effects such as sea level rise and non-economic effects like loss of cultural identity. The grants will also help to tackle issues such as gender inequalities, which are exacerbated by increasingly turbulent and extreme weather.

Ms Sturgeon said: “With loss and damage now on the formal agenda for the first time, this COP can mark a turning point in ensuring the views, experiences and perspectives of the Global South assume a far more central role. If that does happen, it will lead to greater progress on loss and damage and will also, I hope, lead to quicker action on other aspects of climate change. I encourage all parties to make space for serious, open and honest discussion over the next two weeks.”

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon greeted runners at the finish line of a special long-distance relay which set off from Glasgow 40 days ago, carrying a symbolic baton nearly 5,000 miles through 18 countries to reach the Egyptian resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh in time for the COP27 summit. Running Out of Time is the longest non-stop relay ever staged and involved thousands of runners, with the aim of highlighting the climate emergency.

She acknowledged Scotland’s funding pot was “a small sum” in the overall scale of loss and damage facing developing countries, but hoped it “sends an important message”

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The Running Out of Time baton was carried across seas and up mountains, travelling through 18 countries on it way from Scotland to Egypt in the world's longest non-stop relay

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