Climate Change

COP28 agrees to establish loss and damage fund for vulnerable countries

COP28 began with a historic agreement on a loss and damage fund to help developing countries cope with the effects of climate change.

COP28 began with a historic agreement on a loss and damage fund to help developing countries cope with the effects of climate change. Image: Pexels/Luiz Eduardo Martinez de Souza Pereira

Cristen Hemingway Jaynes
Environmental Journalist, EcoWatch
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Climate Change

  • COP28 began with a historic agreement on a loss and damage fund to help developing countries cope with the effects of climate change.
  • The fund was agreed to by delegates on the first day of the conference.
  • Several countries have pledged money to the fund, including the United Arab Emirates, Germany, and the United States.
  • The fund is a significant step forward in addressing the issue of loss and damage, but it is important to remember that it is just one part of the solution.

On the first day of the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, commonly known as COP28, delegates have agreed to formally establish a loss and damage fund to support especially vulnerable countries dealing with the effects of climate change.

Developing nations that have contributed the least to the climate crisis have been facing the brunt of its devastating floods, drought and sea-level rise.

“Today’s news on loss and damage gives this UN climate conference a running start. All governments and negotiators must use this momentum to deliver ambitious outcomes here in Dubai,” Simon Stiell, the executive secretary for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said at a press conference, according to UN News.

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The support of developed nations for the fund was established during last year’s climate summit in Egypt after several years of negotiations.

The United Arab Emirates, whose Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber is the president of COP28, has reportedly pledged $100 million to the fund.

Germany also pledged $100 million, while the European Union committed to $245.39 million, Britain promised “at least” $51 million, the United States agreed to give $17.5 million and Japan $10 million, reported Reuters.

“Governments, the private sector, and innovative sources — such as levies on international shipping and aviation emissions — can all contribute to the fund. Fossil fuel companies that have done the most to drive the climate crisis should also contribute – and if they do not do so voluntarily, governments should compel them to,” said Joe Thwaites, senior advocate for international climate finance at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), in a press release from NRDC.

The COP28 schedule of meetings and events is set to run through December 12 on the campus of Expo City on the outskirts of Dubai. More than 70,000 participants, including delegates, scientists, environmental activists, youth and climate negotiators are expected to attend the climate conference, UN News reported.

At the opening of the summit on Thursday, Stiell said the measures the world is taking are small when bold action is needed.

We are taking baby steps and stepping far too slowly to work out the best responses to the complex climate impacts we are faced with,” Stiell told delegates, as reported by UN News.

Just hours before, the World Meteorological Organization released a provisional report detailing that 2023 had “shattered” climate records and would breach 1.4 degrees Celsius of warming — dangerously close to the 1.5 degrees Celsius that had been internationally agreed upon as the threshold to prevent the worst and potentially irreversible climate change impacts, as outlined in the Paris Agreement.

“This has been the hottest year ever for humanity. So many terrifying records were broken,” Stiell said. “We are paying with people’s lives and livelihoods. Science tells us we have around six years before we exhaust the planet’s ability to cope with our emissions. Before we blow through the 1.5-degree limit.”

Published reports leading up to COP28 showed how far off-track humans are in the quest to curb fossil fuel use and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Stiell called for nations to commit to new Nationally Determined Contributions, action plans that require all commitments in 2025 — whether they be for adaptation, finance or mitigation — to be in accordance with a planetary warming limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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The conference in Dubai marks the culmination of the “Global Stocktake,” an evaluation of nations’ progress to date on reaching key provisions of the Paris Agreement, particularly with reference to climate resilience, curbing greenhouse gas emissions and the mobilization of funds for the world’s most vulnerable countries.

Some groups noted that the loss and damage fund still had some issues, such as how it would be financed going forward.

“The absence of a defined replenishment cycle raises serious questions about the fund’s long-term sustainability,” said Harjeet Singh, Climate Action Network International’s head of global political strategy, as Reuters reported.

Stiell said COP28 delegates had two choices: To focus on the lack of progress, continue on the current path with minor changes “and encourage ourselves to do more ‘at some other point in time,’” or properly fund the transition, including loss and damage, and commit to a different energy system, reported UN News.

“If we do not signal the terminal decline of the fossil fuel era as we know it, we welcome our own terminal decline. And we choose to pay with people’s lives,” Stiell said. “Yes, this is the biggest COP yet – but attending a COP does not tick the climate box for the year. The badges around your necks make you responsible for delivering climate action here and at home. I am committing the UNFCCC to track all announcements made and initiatives launched. So that long after the cameras have gone, we can ensure our promises continue to serve the planet.”

Friday’s COP28 agenda will include a “climate action summit” with UN Secretary General António Guterres and world leaders presenting statements on their governments’ actions to address the climate crisis.

“We feel, as you feel, the urgency of the work, and we see, as you see, that the world has reached a crossroads,” said Sultan al-Jaber in his opening address, as UN News reported. “The science has spoken. It has confirmed that the moment is now to find a new road, wide enough for all of us.”

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