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Saturday 2 December 2023 Dublin: 2°C
Alamy An elephant in a national park in Kenya during a drought. October 2022
Loss and damage

Developed countries to be 'urged' to contribute to fund to fight impacts of climate change

An agreement on a new ‘loss and damage fund’ was reached this weekend, but developing countries had to make concessions for a deal to be reached.

NATIONS HAVE AGREED that developed countries will be “urged” to contribute to a fund for climate-induced losses and damages after developing countries made concessions to try to make a deal possible.

The 28th annual United Nations conference on climate change, known as COP28, is taking place in Dubai at the end of the month.

Two of the major issues will be whether nations will agree to a major shift away from fossil fuels and on how to provide supports to vulnerable countries already suffering from the impacts of the climate crisis (a measure referred to as ‘loss and damage’).

At COP27 last year, countries agreed to set up a dedicated fund for loss and damage supports but left much of the detail, including where the money would come from and how it would be administered, still to be decided.

Ireland, represented by Minister for Climate Eamon Ryan, has shared a seat with Germany on the Transitional Committee that was tasked with figuring out the details of the fund.

After several rounds of talks, an agreement was struck over the weekend that will be sent forward to COP28 to be discussed and signed off. 

The agreement sets out that the fund should be launched in 2024 and requires that developing countries have a seat on the board that oversees it.

Loss and damage only made it onto a COP agenda for the first time last year, and so it was with a sigh of relief for many negotiators that an agreement was reached on the fund this weekend, but developing countries and climate justice activists say it still leaves much to be desired.

For one, the fund will be administered by the World Bank for at least four years, something that developing countries strongly did not want. The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) has previously described the World Bank as “not fit for purpose for broader development issues”.

Additionally, the agreement has not firmed up exactly how much money the fund will collect and developed countries are “urged”, but not required, to contribute.

A lack of references to climate justice or human rights also came as a disappointment.

In a statement, Minister Ryan said he is “glad that a text has been agreed on a loss and damage fund”.

“It is a significant achievement. To get to this point, there was compromise. The text is not perfect but what’s important now is that it can be signed off on at COP28 and we can begin work to set up the fund quickly,” he said.

There is an urgent need to scale up loss and damage funding.

“Ireland, working alongside Germany over the past year on these negotiations, has always kept a clear focus on the needs of the most vulnerable countries, especially the least developed countries and the small island developing states. I’m glad that this focus has been prioritised within this text.”

In 2015, COP21 saw countries settle on the Paris Agreement, which called on the world to try to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees of temperature rise compared to pre-industrial times and not to allow it to surpass 2 degrees.

Global temperatures are expected to exceed those limits unless “deep reductions” are made to greenhouse gas emissions. 

The scale of recent changes to the climate is “unprecedented” over hundreds and thousands of years, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and many parts of the world are already feeling the effects of those changes.