EU pledges 'substantial' contribution to climate damage fund

Bloc did not share the amount it was allocating to the climate damage fund for vulnerable nations

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, President-designate of Cop28, speaks during the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition last month. AFP
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The EU pledged to make a “substantial” contribution to a climate damage fund for vulnerable nations on Monday, ahead of the coming UN Cop28 summit in Dubai.

The introduction of the “loss and damage” mechanism is a priority for the meeting, a year after nations reached a landmark deal following fraught negotiations at Cop27 talks in Egypt.

For years, poorer nations have argued that a fund is needed to help them recover from natural disasters fuelled by climate change.

Its launch is likely to have a major influence on the rest of the Cop28 negotiations, with nations set to tussle over demands for a phase-out of fossil fuels.

The EU's pledge for the loss and damage fund was announced in a joint statement by the bloc's Climate Commissioner Wopke Hoekstra and Dr Sultan Al Jaber, President-designate of Cop28 and UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, following talks in Brussels.

“The Cop28 Presidency and the commissioner emphasised the importance of operationalising the loss and damage funding arrangements at Cop28 including early pledges,” the statement said.

“The commissioner is ready to announce substantial financial contribution by the EU and its member states to the loss [and] damage fund at Cop28,” it said.

The EU did not provide a figure.

In a separate statement, Dr Al Jaber welcomed the EU pledge and said that the fund would have an impact on “billions of people, lives and livelihoods who are vulnerable to the effects of climate change”.

The Climate Action Network welcomed the pledge as “much-needed momentum to help people recover from the severe impacts of climate change, such as recurrent crop failures due to erratic and extreme weather events, and rising sea levels”.

But it said the funds “should be provided as grants, not loans, to avoid exacerbating the debt crisis in developing nations already struggling with multiple challenges”, the NGO's head of political strategy, Harjeet Singh, said on social media.

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Earlier this month, negotiators reached a compromise on having the World Bank host the fund on a temporary basis for four years.

Developing countries initially opposed housing the fund at the Washington-based institution, saying it is dominated by western nations and not adapted to their needs.

The US also has reservations as it wants contributions to be on a voluntary basis and wealthy emerging countries such as Saudi Arabia to pay, too.

In their statement, Mr Hoekstra and Dr Al Jaber “emphasised that Cop28 is a critical opportunity to show unity and restore faith in multilateralism in a world that is polarised through a positive, action-oriented engagement and outcomes”.

Dr Al Jaber also met President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen at the talks.

A post on X, formerly Twitter, said the pair discussed everything from “sustainable energy to climate resilience” while emphasising the urgent need for global collaboration.

“Together, they recalled the importance of delivering ambitious outcomes at Cop28,” it added.

“Climate action requires collective effort, and the EU and the UAE are committed to driving meaningful change.

“Exciting times lie ahead as we work towards a more sustainable and resilient future.”

Dr Al Jaber and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also discussed progress on climate issues ahead of Cop28.

A post on X by Mohamed Al Sahlawi, UAE ambassador to Belgium and the EU, said of their talks: “EU High Representative @JosepBorrellF and #Cop28 President Al Jaber later met to assess the progress made regarding climate issues.

“Both emphasised once more the strength and power of UAE-EU relations, built over decades on trust and dialogue, crucial to our collaborative efforts on climate action.

“In a polarised world, we must engage positively and work towards ambitious outcomes #UniteActDeliver

Updated: November 14, 2023, 9:17 AM