In what has been called a last minute score for the COP27, global leaders in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, agreed to establish a loss and damage fund.

Deemed the big win of UN climate summit, the fund refers to money paid by the richest and most polluting countries in assisting those on the frontlines of climate change. Activists across South Asia, Africa, and Latin America have advocated for years for such fund to be established. As such, the fund is indeed a big win. But after the cheering, what does this really means for those paying the price of climate change?

Loss and damage were part of civil society's demands for more than 30 years. Loss and damage finance, remained, however, a touchier issue. In June, at the climate change conference in Bonn, there was a push for loss and damage finance to be on the table of the negotiations at COP27. This year, the setting agenda meeting stretched out in Sharm El Sheikh, and loss and damage finance was eventually added as an agenda item.

Initially, the EU, US and UK largely opposed the idea of a new fund. Existing facilities, such as the green climate fund, could be used, they argued. To the western block, creating this new fund would be a waste of time. Countries affected by climate change countered the argument, stating existing funds never helped in loss and damages. In fact, not a single penny of those fund helped in tackling the damages of recent climate disasters such as those in Pakistan and Nigeria.

@pique_action What good came from COP27? @economy_mommy #cop27 #cop27egypt #lossanddamage #climatechange ♬ original sound - Pique Action

In a last-minute move, the Western block abided to the creation of a loss and damage fund, under two conditions: for the donor base to be broad and for only vulnerable countries to benefit from it.

The EU wishes to see major economies like China, India and Brazil chipping in. Even though China supported the establishment of the fund, it is highly reluctant to contribute financially. Together with India, they argued that if the Western countries want them to pay on the basis that they are now major economies, they are redefining the basic fundamental provision of the UN climate convention signed in 1992 which separates developed and developing countries.

Here the real questions arise. Who will pay? Who will benefit from the funds? And how will they benefit? The answers are still very vague.  

@nowthisearth The term ‘loss and damage’ is a popular topic at #COP27 — but what is it exactly, and why are small island nations pushing for rules around it? #egypt #climatechange ♬ original sound - NowThis Earth

Truth is, a loss and damage finance is no charity from the West. The colonial print of climate change has long been studied by scholars such as Malcom Ferdinand. Loss and damage finance would be mere reparations from centuries of Western exploitation and domination of other regions, as well as their history of carbon emissions. But there was one condition for the West to agree to the creation of a loss and damage fund: there is no question of liability and compensation, rather, one will speak of facilitation and cooperation.

Liability is the elephant in the room. Without countries taking responsibility, how can one hope for reparations or for a fair and honest conversation about who should contribute and who should benefit from the fund?

Activists and experts use very different terminology than politicians. To them, reparation and domination have always been part of the conversation. To Abigael Kima, Kenyan climate expert and founder of Hali Hewa, a platform that showcases African climate stories, there is no way we can move forward without talking about reparations:

It really is necessary, for how long will we keep ignoring history? Because I don’t think we can actually recover without going back in history. There is no way we can recover from that if we keep denying history. It is so important to have those honest conversations."

Ok, if we can not know who will pay yet, let's ask ourselves, who will benefit from the fund, and how ? According to Abigael Kima, accessibility has been an issue for years:

"We know the processes to access those funds are generally achetic, a normal indigeneous, community or rural community cannot access those funds. It takes about 3 to 4 years before accessing those and it is only accredited organizations that can access the green climate fund. So for the Loss and Damage fund the question is it gonna be the UN, where will the money come from and is it gonna be accessible to communities who need it the most.

So we have a loss and damage fund, but at what cost? To Navin Singh Khadka,"COP27 secured pain killers but failed to address the very causes of the disease". There was no mention in the text about phasing out fossil fuels. With the war in Ukraine, energy politics have developed as the West tries to cut out Russian gas. They see African gas as a development opportunity, and actors in the fossil fuel industry are now seeking out deals in countries such as South Africa, Senegal, Angola and Mozambique. With more than 630 delegates at COP27, fossil fuel lobbyists were the biggest delegation there; lobbies made sure this COP was not going to mess with their plans.

For Abigael Kima, the argument that gas will benefit African countries is a scam:

"At the end, none of the gaz will be used locally, it will all be exported, so it is logic when you think about it, it is the same colonial system, but I don’t think people, especially the UN system, is wild enough to call it as it is, nobody wants to talk about reparation and the colonial system being used.”

As it stands, there seem to be little hope that solutions can be achieved by world leaders in the near future. If the COP is an important hub to meet, share, and for communities to be represented by their governments, none of its conclusions are binding. "COP27 will not deliver a genuine solution for communities. Because it has been 27 years now, and they are moving very slowly, especially on issues that matter the most." says Abigael Kima.

So, where does change come from, if not from the COP? To the climate expert, the answer is clear: go back home and do something about it:

"That [action] only happen at home. Use COP27 to meet, share and push for action. Don’t wait, go back home and do something about it, even if it just talking, be an ambassador in your community".

Let's move behind the curtain of charity.