Experts and activists believe that the establishment of a ‘loss and damage’ fund during the UN COP28 summit is a significant milestone, but it is just the beginning of a larger effort to achieve climate justice.
In UN parlance, “loss and damage” refers to climate finance aimed at addressing the impact of irreparable losses caused by a warming planet. It includes disasters associated with extreme weather, but also slow-onset events such as sea level rise. It covers economic and non-economic losses, including loss of life, biodiversity or cultural heritage.
Climate-vulnerable countries have been demanding that wealthier nations, who have gained their wealth from excessive CO2 emissions, take responsibility for the climate crisis and compensate for the resulting damage.
The United States and China have contributed the most to global CO2 emissions, with the United States being responsible for 20 percent and China for just over 10 percent. The average American has a carbon footprint that is equivalent to over 500 Burundians, a country that is highly vulnerable to climate change and food insecurity. The recently launched fund aims to address the imbalance in climate negotiations and was highly praised at the COP28 in Dubai.
Climate campaigners and civil society groups argue that the announced funding for addressing loss and damage is inadequate, as the required amount runs into trillions of dollars while the collective commitment received is only around $400m, which is a significantly small fraction of what is urgently required.
The World Bank will temporarily manage the fund, which some experts believe could be problematic because it should be distributed based on climate justice and vulnerability, rather than growth and development goals.
Reference- Al Jazeera, National Geographic, UN website, COP28 PR & website, COP28 Twitter Handle