The European Commission announced a program worth €1 billion (roughly $1 billion) to help fund climate change adaptation and resilience in Africa.
A part of the EU-Africa Global Gateway Investment Package, the program aims to improve cooperation between the EU and the African Union. It will "bring together existing and new" climate change adaptation programs, according to a European Commission press release.
The EU said the four pillars of the project would be improving early-warning systems, developing and implementing climate "risk finance and insurance" systems, improving public sector readiness and international funding of climate adaptation projects, and more funding for data-driven risk assessment projects designed to improve responses.
The EU's commissioner for climate affairs, Frans Timmermans, said it would be funded by the EU and governments of Germany, France, Denmark and the Netherlands, adding that other countries would be welcome to join the initiative.
Timmermans said the fund's size was a starting point and that a small share of it, around €60 million, would be earmarked for "loss and damage" spending.
The EU also said on Wednesday that it would "present ideas on how to bring take loss and damage negotiations forward" at the UN's COP27 climate summit. However, this came as leading politicians diluted hopes for a broad agreement on the idea of a global fund to compensate developing countries suffering the effects of climate change in Sharm el-Sheikh this year.
What about the talks on a global 'loss and damage' fund?
One of the main issues at the summit has been the question of so-called "loss and damage" funding. This would involve wealthier nations compensating less developed countries facing the impacts of climate change despite having done comparatively little to cause it historically.
The US and EU did allow the issue to feature on the agenda at COP27 in Egypt, but both powerhouses have also shown continued reticence on the idea.
The Group of 77+ developing countries at the UN, alongside China, proposed the establishment of a global loss and damage fund, saying the need for one was "urgent and immediate."
Recently re-elected Brazilian President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva also raised the issue during his speech at COP27 on Wednesday, saying "We very urgently need financial mechanisms to remedy losses and damages caused by climate change."
EU wants to explore other options, too: Timmermans
Timmermans, the European commissioner for climate affairs, told DW on Wednesday that the bloc favored exploring "other possible solutions" that he said might prove deliverable more quickly.
"And we also need to talk about the conditions. Some countries want a specific fund for this, that could be a solution. We are open to that," Timmermans said. "But we also want to explore other possible solutions because creating a fund takes many years and we want to start helping vulnerable countries now."
The Dutch politician spoke to DW soon before taking the stage in Sharm el-Sheikh on Wednesday. He said that more flexibility was required so that funding reached places in need more quickly.
"We need to make sure [developing countries] have access to this finance much quicker than today, because sometimes they wait for years and they can't wait for years to rebuild their countries when they are affected by climate disasters," he said.
Timmermans said the EU did want there to be a "successful conclusion about loss and damage here in Sharm el-Sheikh."
First critical responses from Sharm el-Sheikh
COP attendees from the developing world expressed disappointment to DW soon after the announcement.
"60 million? That is nothing, and that was not an announcement," Jerry Enoe, a member of Grenada's COP delegation, told DW. "And the one billion also can't do [anything]. That would probably do the administration work. It is a start but I would have preferred 60 million and a commitment to increase over the next 10 years. This is not acceptable."
Mohammed Ibrahim, an Egyptian ecology student, said the fund was "not enough because the damage caused by the EU is way more than that."
What did Germany's Baerbock say on the issue?
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, a Greens politician, took to Twitter after the announcement, pledging to "strive for concrete means of [CO2 emission] reduction, and appeal for new financing instruments for loss and damage."
"The COP27 is the only global forum where we can agree on a collective bid to limit the climate crisis," Baerbock wrote. "What's at stake is the freedom of future generations. What's clear is that we're too late and that it will be difficult. What's needed are not abstract targets, but concrete steps towards 1.5 degrees," referring to the global target of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius against pre-industrial levels.
Baerbock had said earlier on Wednesday that talks about loss and damage were underway but ideas were still "far apart."
Particularly affected countries that are not responsible for the CO2 emissions of industrialized countries are right to demand compensation for damage and loss caused by climate change, Baerbock said.
"The fact that we have now succeeded in putting this demand on the agenda of a climate conference for the first time is opening an important door, and we must now build on this," she said.
However, "we still have a difficult road ahead of us," Baerbock said.
msh, los/fb (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)