As many thousands of delegates pour into Dubai for the UN’s COP28 climate summit, there was talk on Thursday of hope for an early deal on a new fund to pay for climate-caused damage.
Organisers are keen to generate some political goodwill before negotiations begin on divisive topics such as the future of fossil fuels.
Officials from many governments are preparing for marathon talks on whether they can agree to phase out use of coal, oil and gas. The burning of these fuels causes CO2 and other emissions that are the main cause of global warming.
With finance also high on the meeting agenda, the United Arab Emirates’ COP28 presidency published a proposal on the eve of the summit, for countries to adopt a new UN climate damage fund – raising hopes among some delegates that this could be among the first deals struck in Dubai.
The draft deal, which representatives from developed and developing countries painstakingly crafted during months-long negotiations this year, would launch a fund to help vulnerable nations cope with the cost of climate-driven damage from drought, floods and rising seas.
Some diplomats said they were hopeful it would pass without objections. “Opening these negotiations is like opening Pandora’s box. And that wouldn’t be useful for anyone,” one said.
Large donations sought to grease wheels for deals
Establishing the fund would pave the way for wealthy countries to put money into it – with leaders from nations including Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands expected to announce contributions early in the COP, European diplomats said.
The European Union has pledged a “substantial” contribution, but wants countries whose economies have boomed in recent decades, like China and the UAE, to follow suit.
“Everyone with the ability to pay should contribute,” said EU Climate Commissioner Wopke Hoekstra, who noted that they wanted to “broaden the donor base beyond the usual suspects, simply because that reflects the reality of 2023.”
Adnan Amin, CEO of the COP28 summit, said this month the aim was to secure several hundred million US dollars for the climate damage fund during the event. He said he was “hopeful” that the UAE would make a contribution.
A breakthrough on the climate damage fund – which poorer nations have demanded for years – could help grease the wheels for other compromises.
Still, heading into the summit, countries are split between European nations and climate-vulnerable states demanding an agreement to replace fossil fuels with clean energy in the coming decades, and oil and gas producers seeking to preserve a role for traditional energy sources.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard