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Cop28 climate conference finalises creation of loss and damage fund

THIS year’s United Nations climate conference opened in Dubai today and immediately finalised the creation of a fund to compensate countries hit by deadly floods, heat and droughts due to global warming.

Conference president Sultan al-Jaber hailed “the first decision to be adopted on day one of any Cop,” saying his country would contribute $100 million (£79m) to the fund. Other countries chipping in included Germany, also with $100m.

Developing nations, which face the worst effects of climate change even though they have done little to cause it, have long sought adequate funding to help them respond to disasters caused by the phenomenon, which is largely driven by industrialised countries’ greenhouse-gas emissions.

Initial steps toward the creation of the “loss and damage fund” were taken at last year’s UN climate conference in Egypt, but even after today’s agreement, many details remain unresolved, such as how large the fund will be and who will administer it in the long term.

A recent UN report estimates that up to $387 billion (£306bn) a year will be needed if developing countries are to adapt to climate-driven changes.

Some activists and experts expressed scepticism today that the fund would raise anything close to that amount.

Rachel Cleetus, policy director and lead economist for the climate and energy programme at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the creation on the fund was “a significant step forward,” but she added that the initial pledges were “a small, inadequate start” and required follow-up from richer nations.

Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, a think tank focused on climate issues, noted that there were “no hard deadlines, no targets and countries are not obligated to pay into it, despite the whole point being for rich, high-polluting nations to support vulnerable communities who have suffered from climate impacts.”

The fund will be hosted by the World Bank for the next four years and the plan is to launch it by 2024. A developing country representative will have a seat on its board.

Meanwhile, the UN weather agency announced today that 2023 is all but certain to be the hottest year on record.

The World Meteorological Organisation also warned that the average temperature for the year was up by some 1.4°C from pre-industrial times – just 10 per cent of a degree below the targeted limit for the end of the century set by the Paris Agreement of 2015.

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