Dubai, Nov 30 (IANS): A decision to operationalise a loss and damage fund, particularly for nations most vulnerable to the climate crisis within a year of its establishment, was adopted as leaders began talks on Thursday at the two-week-long United Nations Climate Conference (COP28) with the host UAE committing $100 million.
"We've delivered history today," COP28 President, Sultan Al Jaber, remarked.
"The first time a decision has been adopted on day one of any COP. And the speed in which we have done so is also historic.
"Getting this done demonstrates the hard work of so many, particularly members of the transitional committee who worked tirelessly to get us to this point.
"This is evidence that we can deliver. COP28 can deliver. And colleagues, this now sets a clear ambition for us to deliver a comprehensive GST (global stocktake) decision over the next 12 days."
The COP28 presidency UAE is committing $100 million to loss and damage, an important milestone in building resilience for people suffering the devastating impacts of climate change.
During COP28, the world is set to unite, act together and deliver actionable solutions to the climate crisis.
Parties to the COP28 approved the Presidency's Negotiations Agenda during the Opening Plenary of COP28 here.
A key moment symbolizing multinational unity in the face of climate change, and a critical step in the right direction to set the pathway towards climate ambition to be met. Earlier in the day, Al Jaber officially assumed the role of COP28 President, as the gavel was formally passed by his predecessor, COP27 President Sameh Shoukry.
Christian Aid has welcomed the operationalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund but warns there is much work to be done to ensure the climate vulnerable are able to actually get access to it.
Mariana Paoli, Christian Aid's Global Advocacy Lead, said: "This time last year, at the start of COP27 in Egypt, the Loss and Damage Fund was not even on the agenda for that meeting. So it's a testament to the determination of developing country negotiators that we now already have the fund agreed and established.
"The fact the World Bank is to be the interim host of the fund is a worry for developing countries. It needs to be closely scrutinised to ensure vulnerable communities are able to get easy and direct access to funds and the whole operation is run with far more transparency than the World Bank normally operates on. These were the conditions agreed by countries and if they are not kept to, a separate arrangement will be needed."
Responding to the decision, Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy at Climate Action Network International, told IANS: "Amid the historic decision to operationalise the Loss and Damage Fund within a year of its establishment, addressing underlying concerns becomes critical.
"On one hand, rich countries have pushed for the World Bank to host this Fund under the guise of ensuring a speedy response. Conversely, they have attempted to dilute their financial obligations and resisted defining a clear finance mobilisation scale.
"The absence of a defined replenishment cycle raises serious questions about the fund's long-term sustainability. Therefore, a robust system, particularly integrated with the Global Stocktake process and the new climate finance goal, is needed to ensure that COP28 results in a meaningful outcome.
"The responsibility now lies with affluent nations to meet their financial obligations in a manner proportionate to their role in the climate crisis, which has been primarily driven by decades of unrestrained fossil fuel consumption and a lack of adequate climate finance delivered to the Global South."