Progress made in loss and damage talks, says Irish climate minister

Eamon Ryan says there is 'real impetus' at pre-Cop28 meeting to agree on fund to help deal with effects of climate change

Eamon Ryan, Ireland's Minister for the Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport, at pre-Cop talks in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Ireland’s climate minister on Tuesday said that there has been progress in contentious talks over a fund to help countries deal with loss and damage from climate change.

Eamon Ryan, Minister for the Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport, said there was now “real impetus” in reaching agreement.

Speaking after a key meeting at the pre-Cop gathering in Abu Dhabi, Mr Ryan said it was crucial the fund was delivered at Cop28.

“I think one of the negotiators said in the session this morning they were 85 per cent there,” Mr Ryan told The National. “So that is not insignificant and gives us the real impetus to get the last 15 per cent and get everything over the line.”

The loss and damage fund was agreed at Cop27 in Egypt last year. But crucial questions such as who will administer it and where the money comes from were delayed to Cop28.

A “transitional committee” has been meeting since then to try to forge a deal and another round of talks will take place in Abu Dhabi this week aimed at reaching a final agreement on the fund's framework.

Mr Ryan said it was important these issues were largely agreed before Cop28 begins on November 30.

“It should be agreed in my mind by and large before we go to Dubai because that would give real confidence to the process, and momentum, because we have to agree on so many other issues as well.”

Mr Ryan said there needed to be consensus on the institution to deliver the funds and it was vital that the “fair share” of finance went to those needing it the most.

“They are the ones that are hit the most … and least able to respond,” he said.

Biggest issues

Mr Ryan said “we have to” reach an agreement, adding: “I don’t think there is any scenario in which we don’t deliver this.

“If that happens, it would signal a real lack of trust. If it was maybe at 30 or 40 per cent, you’d be very worried but given it has got that broad level of consensus around the basic structures I think it is our responsibility now for us all to get it over the line.”

Mr Ryan said the two biggest issues were probably who administers the fund and where the money comes from. The EU and the US are keen for the fund to be administered by the World Bank.

Mr Ryan said this was not a “red line” but speed was of the essence given the scale of the climate emergency that this year has seen temperature records smashed and extreme events become more common.

“The challenge for a new [institution] is that it would take several years to establish and, in many instances, we can’t wait,” he said.

“There is a list as long as my arm of places where we are seeing [climate] damage so we do need to be quick. This has to motivate us all because this year has been unlike anything previously,” he said. “But nothing is certain.”

About 70 ministers are in the UAE for the pre-Cop gathering that seeks to iron out differences ahead of the crucial summit from November 30 to December 12.

Mr Ryan, leader of Ireland's Green Party who was also the EU ministerial representative on loss and damage at Cop27, said across the negotiating rooms the atmosphere was good and “credit is due to the UAE”.

He said he expected finance to dominate the Cop28 talks and how to ensure the countries who need funds the most get access to it.

“That is going to be one of the most important issues when it comes to Dubai,” Mr Ryan said.

“It is not just about loss and damage but mitigation; and protecting people; water systems; food systems; and nature systems from the climate change we know is going to come.”

The pre-Cop gathering came to a close on Tuesday, with the two-day conference attracting more than 70 ministers which organisers said was the largest ever.

Majid al Suwaidi, Cop28 director-general, said the progress made over the course of pre-Cop filled the presidency with "great confidence" with just weeks to go before the crunch summit starts.

"These are steps in the right direction," said Mr Al Suwaidi.

"But we must do better and we must do it faster."

Updated: November 02, 2023, 4:21 AM