COP28 summit opens with hopes for early deal on climate damage fund

DUBAI, As world leaders assemble in Dubai for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, participants aim to secure an early success on a catastrophe fund on Thursday before the summit shifts its emphasis to fossil fuels and other contentious issues.

Governments are gearing up for lengthy talks about whether to agree, for the first time, to phase out the world’s use of CO2-emitting coal, oil, and gas, the primary source of global emissions.

With finance high on the agenda, the COP28 presidency of the United Arab Emirates published a proposal on the eve of the summit for countries to formally adopt the outlines of a new United Nations fund to cover losses and damages in poor countries hit by climate disasters such as extreme flooding or persistent drought.

A quick agreement on the damage fund, which poorer countries have been demanding for years, might help grease the wheels for further agreements to be reached during the two-week summit.

Some diplomats expressed optimism that the draught agreement would be adopted soon, with one delegate describing the likelihood of objections at this stage as “opening Pandora’s box.” The agreement was reached after months of difficult discussions between wealthy and developing countries.

The creation of the fund permits rich countries to begin donating funds for it, and nations like as Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands are anticipated to announce donations in the coming days, according to European diplomats.

The European Union has offered a “substantial” contribution, but wants countries with booming economies, such as China and the UAE, to follow suit.

“Everyone with the ability to pay should contribute,” said EU Climate Commissioner Wopke Hoekstra, who said he intended to “broaden the donor base beyond the usual suspects, simply because that reflects the reality of 2023.”

Adnan Amin, CEO of the COP28 summit, told Reuters earlier this month that the event’s goal was to raise several hundred million dollars for the climate disaster fund. He stated that he was “hopeful” that the UAE would contribute.

“We cannot rest until this fund is adequately funded and begins to actually alleviate the burden of vulnerable communities,” said Pa’olelei Luteru, Samoa’s Ambassador to Europe and chairman of the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) negotiation caucus.

Countries are divided into two camps: European nations and climate-vulnerable states seeking a deal to replace fossil fuels with clean energy, and oil and gas producers hoping to keep old energy sources in play.

Many underdeveloped countries are likewise hesitant to abandon fossil fuels, which they argue are crucial for economic growth.

Another significant job for this year’s summit will be for countries to assess their progress towards global climate targets, particularly the Paris Agreement aim of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

This procedure, known as the global stocktake, should result in a high-level strategy outlining what countries should do.

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