Nearly 200 countries on Thursday approved a climate disaster fund that will help vulnerable nations hit by deadly floods, heat and drought, AFP reported.
The formal establishment of the “loss and damage” fund, as it’s been called informally over the last two years, was a breakthrough at the 28th annual United Nations climate change conference known as COP28.
At the opening ceremony of the summit, host United Arab Emirates’ Sultan al-Jaber said it was “the first time a decision has been adopted on day one of any COP and the speed in which we have done so is also unique, phenomenal and historic”.
Al-Jaber, the UAE’s minister of industry and head of the national oil company, announced that his country will contribute $100 million to the fund. The European Union, United States and United Kingdom said they will chip in contributions totalling nearly $400 million to help poor countries cope with climate emergencies, the BBC reported.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who arrived in Dubai to attend COP28 late on Thursday, said that developing nations must be equipped with adequate funds and technology to help them prepare for what is coming.
US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are not attending the summit.
The US and China are the world’s two biggest polluters. Developing countries, which have borne a significant brunt of economic losses due to climate-related disasters, have long sought to address the problem of inadequate funding. But richer countries have vehemently opposed the damage fund for over 30 years and stymied progress at the annual climate negotiations.
The fund will initially be held at the World Bank for the next four years, a proposal that developing countries reluctantly accepted as many find the organisation overly influenced by wealthy countries, including the US.
The COP28 summit comes at a pivotal time, as the United Nations on Thursday declared that 2023 is on track to become the hottest year on record. Last month, an analysis by the United Nations found that the world would face between 2.5 degrees Celsius and 2.9 degrees Celsius of warming above pre-industrial levels if governments do not take more aggressive climate action.
Another study in November found that 7.3 billion people, or 90% of the global population, experienced at least 10 days of high temperatures that were made at least three times more likely because of climate change.