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Fund to compensate developing countries for climate change unfinished business at COP28

NEW DELHI (AP) — Sunil Kumar watched helplessly in July as his home and 14 others were swept away by…

NEW DELHI (AP) — Sunil Kumar watched helplessly in July as his home and 14 others were swept away by intense monsoon rains pounding the Indian Himalayas.

“All my life’s work disappeared in an instant. Starting again seems impossible, especially with my three children depending on me,” said Kumar, a waste collector from Bhiuli village in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh.

This year’s monsoon season in India has been devastating, with local authorities estimating 428 deaths and more than $1.42 billion in property damage across the region. But India is just one of many developing countries suffering from extreme weather, made worse or more likely by climate change, caused largely by greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.

Tropical Storm Daniel hit Libya with massive flooding in September and Cyclone Freddy hit several African countries earlier this year. Activists say these three disasters show how poorer countries, which have historically contributed less to climate change because they have emitted fewer greenhouse gases than developed countries, are often hardest hit by the impacts of global warming.


EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is part of a series produced as part of the India Climate Journalism Program, a collaboration between The Associated Press, the Stanley Center for Peace and Security and the Press Trust of India.


Developing countries had long sought to resolve the problem and finally managed to reach an agreement during last year’s annual United Nations climate negotiations, known as COP27, to create what was calls for a loss and damage fund. But many details remained unresolved, and dozens of contentious meetings were held over the next year to negotiate issues such as who would contribute to it, how big it would be, who would administer it, and more.

A draft agreement was finally concluded at the beginning of the month, just a few weeks before the opening of COP28 negotiations on November 30 in Dubai. The deal will need final approval during climate negotiations, and discontent among rich and developing countries could block approval or require additional negotiations.

“For us, it’s a question of justice,” said New Delhi-based Harjeet Singh, head of global policy strategy for the Climate Action Network International, a group that has spent the past decade lobbying to compensate these nations. . “Poor communities in developing countries are losing their farms, homes and incomes to a crisis caused by developed countries and corporations. »

A recent United Nations report estimates that up to $387 billion will be needed each year if developing countries are to adapt to climate-induced changes. Even as the details of a loss and damage fund are worked out, some are skeptical that it will raise anywhere near that amount. The Green Climate Fund, first proposed during climate negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009 and which began raising money in 2014, is not yet close to its $100 billion-a-year target.

Chandra Bhushan, director of the International Forum for Environment, Sustainability and Technology, a climate think tank based in New Delhi, said he does not expect countries to contribute more than a few billion dollars to the loss and damage fund.

“Developing countries should be prepared to manage these events independently, as has been the case with COVID-19. They can’t always rely on others,” Bhushan said.

The draft agreement provides for the World Bank to temporarily host the fund for the next four years. It sets out the fundamental objectives of the fund, including its planned launch in 2024, and specifies how it will be administered and who will oversee it, with the requirement that developing countries get a seat on the board.

The agreement calls for developed countries to contribute to the fund, but specifies that other countries and private parties can also do so. It says allocations will prioritize those most vulnerable to climate change, but any climate-affected community or country is eligible.

Developing countries were disappointed that the agreement did not specify the amount of the fund and did not specify who should contribute.

They also wanted a new independent entity to house the fund, only reluctantly agreeing to the World Bank. They view the organization, whose president is usually appointed by the United States, as part of a global financial system that has often saddled them with crushing loans that make it harder to manage the costs of climate change. They have long argued that there is a need for a larger, more coordinated pool of money, without worsening debt crises.

“This arrangement will not give the new fund true independence, prevent direct access to vulnerable communities, and fail to be fully accountable to governments and people most affected by climate change,” said RR Rashmi, former climate negotiator with of the Indian government. who is now a distinguished member of the New Delhi-based think tank, The Energy Resources Institute.

Meanwhile, rich countries have sought to limit countries eligible for payments from the fund to the most vulnerable, such as Afghanistan and Bangladesh in Asia, several African countries as well as island nations like Kiribati, Samoa and Barbados. They also said all nations should contribute, especially fast-growing countries like China and Saudi Arabia.

“It is important that the fund focuses on the poorest and most vulnerable. Those who have the strength and resources to contribute should do so,” said Dan Jørgensen, Danish minister for global climate policy.

The US State Department has expressed disappointment that the draft agreement does not specifically describe donations as voluntary, despite what it sees as broad consensus among negotiators.

Brandon Wu is director of policy and campaigns at ActionAid USA, a nonprofit that has pressed the United States for help in reaching a recommended deal that could be presented at COP28. He added that discontent could still lead to talks about reopening the fund in Dubai, but negotiators are under great pressure to deliver results.

“Many believe that this COP will be considered a success or a failure depending on whether it takes place or not,” Wu said. “The UAE presidency has a vested interest in this being the case. »

Representatives of developing countries say it was essential to obtain the draft agreement in early November, and that its approval at COP28 would be the worst outcome.

Samoa’s Ambassador to the UN, Fatumanava-o-Upolu III Pa’olelei Luteru, also chairs the Alliance of Small Island States. He said the world’s most industrialized countries have a “moral responsibility” to act as quickly as possible on climate reparations.

“We cannot continue on the path we have been on for the last 30 years,” he said.


Saini is a journalist for Press Trust of India. Arasu is a journalist for the Associated Press.


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