With the developed and developing countries deeply divided over the need to create a new fund to help nations affected with climate disasters, progress on the loss and damage front at the climate conference here has been halted at the end of the first week of negotiations, and left for the ministers to decide at the end of the meeting next week.
Loss and damage finance was included on the main agenda for the climate meeting for the first time this year, raising hopes of the developing countries who have been pushing for a separate fund for this purpose. To a large extent, the success of this climate meeting is likely to be measured by the outcome achieved on this issue.
The European Union, which is in favour of addressing loss and damage through existing financial architectures, said any breakthrough on this issue was expected only during the ministerial meetings next week.
“There is one group of parties that is committed to addressing loss and damage but feels it is best addressed by strengthening the existing architecture, and another set of parties that is very keenly focused on establishing a new fund or facility, and wants to do it at this very COP. IN the course of negotiaitons, these two groups have come a lot closer in terms of understanding each others’ positions, but they are kind of stopping at that point to wait for the politicians to come and see what kind of bridging proposals could be made that can bring us closer to resolution,” Jacob Werksman, EU’s top negotiator said.
Werksman, however, stressed that irrespective of whether the negotiations lead to the creation of a fund, or any other mechanism to provide finance for loss and damages, it would not be in the form of a liability regime, and would not include demands for compensation.
“We have those understandings that this would not cover liability and compensation,” he said, saying creation of a separate fund was not ruled out at this stage.
In the meanwhile, US President Joe Biden dropped in at the conference for a short visit lasting a few hours, and said his country was ready to reclaim the leadership of climate change. He apologised for the previous administration’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement and listed the decisions that he had taken on the climate change front.
On the day of his visit, the US States announced fresh plans to reduce methane emissions from fossil fuel industry, and a doubling of the adaptation finance from US$ 50 million to US$ 100 million. But that hardly stopped the criticism of the US for failing to put enough money on the table. The US has so far promised about US$ 11.4 billion in climate finance, as part of its contribution to the US$ 100 billion that developed countries are under obligation to mobilise every year from 2023, but only a small part of that money has been realized.
“The US once again arrived without a clear plan on how it plans to do its fair share on climate finance and phasing out fossil fuels. Its radio silence on loss and damage finance, offering insurance instead of real money, while vulnerable countries have ramped up their demand for a finance facility proves once again how out of touch Biden is with the reality of the climate crisis,” Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy at Climate Action Network International, said.