India, Global South hail operationalisation of Loss and Damage Fund

PTI | Dubai | Updated: 01-12-2023 00:26 IST | Created: 01-12-2023 00:26 IST
India, Global South hail operationalisation of Loss and Damage Fund
  • Country:
  • United Arab Emirates

The agreement on the operationalisation of the Loss And Damage Fund that is aimed at compensating developing and poor countries facing the climate crisis despite contributing little to it was welcomed as a "Landmark move" by India on Thursday even as it evoked a set of mixed reactions, especially from the Global South.

The UN climate talks COP28 opened on a positive note with countries clinching an early deal on the operationalisation of the Loss And Damage Fund with COP president Dr. Sultan Al Jaber highlighting that the science is clear and "now is the moment to find a road wide enough for us all to deliver climate action." India's Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav posted on X soon after the decision was announced: "A positive signal of momentum from COP28 in UAE on the first day itself ... Landmark decision on operationalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund was adopted in the opening plenary of COP28. India strongly supports the decision to operationalise the Loss and Damage Fund." ''India strongly supports the decision to operationalise the Loss and Damage Fund taken at the opening plenary of COP28. The decision will prove to be a landmark move,'' he said.

Global South, comprising poor and developing nations, have long been pointing out the lack of adequate funding to tackle the changing climate leading to disasters including floods, droughts and heat waves, and blamed the rich nations for not opening the purse strings wider. Developing countries have also claimed the rich nations bear the responsibility for helping them tackle the changes as historically it is those nations that have contributed more to the carbon emissions that have heated up the earth.

Earlier on Thursday, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), the UN's weather agency, said that 2023 is all but certain to be the hottest year on record, and a warning of worrying trends that suggest increasing floods, forest fires, glacier melt, and heat waves in the future.

It also warned that the average temperature for the year is up some 1.4 degrees Celsius (2.5 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial times – a mere one-tenth of a degree under a target limit for the end of the century as laid out by the Paris climate accord in 2015.

The decision to operationalising the Loss and Damage Fund was crucial for the global south as at the COP27 in Egypt's Sharm El-Sheikh last year, rich countries had agreed to establish a loss-and-damage fund but the decisions on funding allocation, beneficiaries and administration were kept hanging.

The developing countries wanted a new and independent entity to host the fund but accepted the World Bank only reluctantly, albeit temporarily, for the next four years.

Immediately after the decision to operationalise this fund, the UAE and Germany announced that they would contribute USD 100 million each to the fund.

Joe Thwaites, senior advocate for International Climate Finance at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) called it a historic achievement.

"The Loss and Damage Fund will provide urgent assistance to vulnerable communities living on the frontlines of the climate crisis they did little to cause. All wealthy and high emitting countries now have a responsibility to step up and contribute to the fund," he said.

Ulka Kelkar, Director, Climate Change Programme, WRI India, said developed countries need to pledge new and additional funds to the Loss & Damage Fund so that support can be provided to countries and communities where it is most urgently needed.

"This support should be in the form of grants rather than loans that risk further indebting these economies. It needs to go beyond commercial insurance provisions, which can fail in the face of recurring and widespread disasters. There is much experience from previous efforts to create international climate funds, and we should avoid pitfalls and ensure that the L&D Fund is up and running as soon as possible," Kelkar said.

Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy at Climate Action Network International, said, "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,'' Singh warned.

Iskander Erzini Vernoit, a researcher at E3G, an independent climate change think tank, told PTI, "It isn't ideal, but it's a start ... It is a modest step toward providing for the communities in developing countries that are already suffering from escalating climate change impacts ... but more ambition is required from developed countries to ensure justice, including but not limited to the additionality of public finance provided." Avinash Persaud, developing country negotiator and special climate envoy to Barbados and PM Mottley, said this is a hard-fought historic agreement. "It shows recognition that climate loss and damage is not a distant risk but part of the lived reality of almost half of the world's population and that money is needed to reconstruct and rehabilitate if we are not to let the climate crisis reverse decades of development in mere moments." Farhana Yamin, lawyer & coordinator of Climate Justice & Just Transition Collaborative, remembered climate champion Bangladeshi-British scientist Saleem Huq on the occasion, saying he fought hard for this Fund and it would have made him proud.

Haq, a vocal advocate for the global south, passed away recently.

"We must, of course, step up and maintain the pressure on this COP to deliver rapid cuts in greenhouse emissions in line with the 1.5 Celsius temperature set out in Paris," he added.

Ambassador Pa'olelei Luteru, chair of the AOSIS, representing the interests of 39 small island and low-lying coastal developing states at the international climate change negotiations, said the work is "far from over." "After the gavel drops at COP28, we cannot rest until this fund is adequately financed and starts to actually alleviate the burden of vulnerable communities. Success starts when the international community can properly support the victims of this climate crisis, with efficient, direct access to the finance they urgently need," he said.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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