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Pre-Cop28 Talks Collapse over Loss and Damage Funding

By Obiabin Onukwugha

Pre-Cop28 talks has collapsed as leaders of rich and developing countries, last Saturday, failed to agree over the setting up of a fund to help countries suffering from the devastating effects of global warming.

Leaders of the rich nations and developing economies were said to have clashed during extended three-day talks, over who is to fund it, a situation that could set the course for a difficult UN COP28 climate summit billed to hold in Dubai, next month.

The agreement to create a loss and damage fund was an important conclusion at the COP27 UN Climate Summit in Egypt, last year.

Leaders from developing countries had celebrated the plan to aid particularly vulnerable nations battle climate change.

But after almost a year of intense negotiations between countries over how to get the fund up and running, reports say the fourth round of talks in the Egyptian city of Aswan ended in discord over who should fund it, where it should be based and who would be eligible for support.

It was gathered that the group of 77 developing economies and China had considered walking out of the talks earlier this week over a key dispute about the role of the World Bank in hosting the fund.

According to Avinash Persaud, special climate envoy to Barbados, the G77 and China initially opposed the World Bank running the fund, but took part in talks on last Friday on the basis of the lender taking on a leading role, said and a member of the transition committee. But those conversations faltered once again after a clash over the capitalisation of the fund.

He said while developed countries led by the US were responsible for the vast majority of historical greenhouse gas emissions behind global warming, they were not prepared to shoulder the responsibility of funding to deal with the consequences.

“After a summer of tumbling climate records and loss of lives, livelihoods and shelter, developed countries are withdrawing from taking responsibility for capitalising a fund to support the climate-vulnerable,” he said.

It was also gathered that US climate envoy, John Kerry had earlier argued that China, as the world’s biggest annual polluter, and Saudi Arabia, as the world’s largest oil exporter, should also play a bigger role in financing the fund.

He also advocated for reform of the World Bank to step up to provide greater funding for poorer nations.

Reacting to the development, Senior Adviser in the global climate programme and the finance centre at the World Resources Institute, Preety Bhandari, expressed concern that whether the loss and damage fund will become fully operational is a key measure of success for the COP28 summit.

He said the body will host another round of negotiations in Abu Dhabi early next month.

“The failure to reach an agreement adds pressure to next month’s COP28 summit, which already has a packed agenda. This includes a stock take of how countries are responding to climate change as well as setting a goal to help governments adapt to dealing with global warming.

“Whether or not the loss and damage fund becomes fully operational is a key measure of success for the COP28 summit.

“If the members of the 24-person transition committee negotiating the global loss and damage fund cannot reach common ground at the final gathering in Abu Dhabi next month, we are destined for very rocky negotiations in Dubai.

“The entire COP28 negotiations could get derailed if developing countries’ priorities on funding for loss and damage are not adequately addressed.

“The eyes of the world were on the committee. Billions of people, lives and livelihoods who are vulnerable to the effects of climate change, depend upon the successful delivery,” Bhandari said.

The COP28 President-designate, Sultan al-Jaber, had strongly urged countries to reach a consensus, with the talks pushed overnight but the plea didn’t yield any result.

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