Countries fail to reach consensus on loss and damage fund, deep divides threaten success of COP28 – Times of India

Countries fail to reach consensus on loss and damage fund, deep divides threaten success of COP28 – Times of India

NEW DELHI: Ahead of the upcoming UN climate conference (COP28) in December, the Loss and Damage Transitional Committee failed to reach consensus on critical issues relating to the proposed loss and damage fund at its meeting that concluded in Aswan, Egypt on Saturday.
Despite negotiations going well into overtime beyond its scheduled closing day, the meeting concluded with widely divergent views on three fundamental questions: who will host the fund, which nations are eligible to get financial assistance and who must pay into the fund.
The fund was created last year at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt to support developing countries impacted by climate change. Idea behind this proposed fund is to help communities grappling with losses and damage from the climate change-induced extreme weather events.
Differences between developed and developing countries on these questions have potential to derail one of the key deliverables of the COP28 where the negotiators are expected to take a final call on operationalising the fund. There is, however, still a chance for them to bridge the deep divides when they meet once more at Abu Dhabi, UAE during November 3-5.
“If committee members cannot reach common ground at the final gathering in Abu Dhabi next month, we are destined for very rocky negotiations in Dubai. The entire COP28 negotiations could get derailed if developing countries’ priorities on funding for loss and damage are not adequately addressed,” said Preety Bhandari, senior advisor in the Global Climate Program and the Finance Center, World Resources Institute.
Developed countries want the fund to be located under the World Bank. In that case, the Bank would set up the Fund’s Secretariat and provide related Secretariat services for it against a fee. Developing countries have, however, resisted it saying such a move would restrict access to and the legal independence, flexibility and decision-making power of the new fund.
Besides, the developed countries want the emerging economies like India and China too should contribute to the fund. They also want the fund to be utilised only by the least developed countries. The developing countries, on the other hand, want only the rich nations being the historically responsible for climate change should contribute to the fund. They are of the view that since climate change threatens all developing countries, all such nations should be eligible for this fund while least developed countries and small island nations deserve special consideration for allocating support.
During the meeting, USA, Australia and Canada also insisted on delinking the Loss and Damage Fund with “liability and compensation” and got an additional para inserted in the draft text. It says, “The Fund is based on cooperation and facilitation and does not involve liability or compensation” — the point resisted by developing countries.
“The developed countries are pushing to have the World Bank host the Loss and Damage fund. This is because they want total control over who receives the funds and who doesn’t. This is unacceptable,” said Harjeet Singh, Head of Global Political Strategy, Climate Action Network International.
“People on the frontlines of the climate crisis are already suffering severe economic and non-economic losses and damages caused primarily by richer nations’ heat-trapping emissions, and this dire situation is set to get worse as climate change accelerates. A clear set of recommendations from the Transitional Committee to get the Loss and Damage Fund up and running is crucial, as is making sure the fund is designed to meet the needs of climate-vulnerable communities,” said Rachel Cleetus, policy director and lead economist for the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
“The United States and other rich countries seem more focused on evading or minimizing their responsibility than engaging in good faith negotiations to reach just outcomes. The United States’ continued insistence on locating the fund within the World Bank and refusal to acknowledge the primary responsibility of developed countries to provide funding is highly problematic. This posture must shift quickly ahead of COP28, or there’s a grave risk that nations will leave Dubai without agreement on operationalizing the Loss and Damage Fund,” Cleetus added.
Bhandari too believes the operationalisation of the Fund is a critical yardstick to measure the success of COP28 in Dubai during November 30 – December 12.
She said, “Whether or not the Loss and Damage Fund becomes fully operational is a key measure of success for the COP28 summit. Negotiators must go above and beyond to reach consensus and finally provide support for communities grappling with floods, droughts and other climate disasters.”

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