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Deal on loss and damage fund clears way for COP28, EU climate chief says

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A UN-level agreement on the Loss and Damage Fund to compensate vulnerable countries for natural disasters caused by climate change opens the way for higher climate mitigation goals at the upcoming COP28 summit in Dubai, the EU’s climate chief has said.

The Fifth Meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Transitional Committee on Loss and Damage concluded on Sunday (5 November) with agreement on a list of recommendations for implementing funds, which will be taken forward at COP28.

At the COP28 summit opening on 30 November, parties to the UNFCCC will now be responsible for operationalising the fund, including key provisions on grant-based support for countries particularly hit by climate change.

EU climate chief Wopke Hoekstra welcomed the deal as a “crucial step forward” ahead of COP28.

“This agreement on loss and damage should pave the way for a strong outcome in the Global Stocktake regarding deep emissions reductions this decade as the best way to minimise loss and damage,” Hoekstra wrote on X.

“Now, it needs to be married to the highest possible ambition on climate mitigation,” he added, saying the EU “will continue its push for ambition” at COP28.

Once up and running, the fund will provide particularly vulnerable countries with funding to support recovery from the impacts of climate-related disasters such as floods and droughts.

The recommendation, if adopted by consensus at COP28, has the potential to impact “billions of people, lives and livelihoods who are vulnerable to the effects of climate change,” said COP28 President Dr. Sultan Al Jaber.

The agreed recommendations will now be taken forward to national governments ahead of COP28 so the fund can be activated and capitalised.

“Parties must seal the deal in Dubai and fulfil our obligations on the Loss and Damage Fund,” Al Jaber added in a statement, saying “there is still more work to do”.

The establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund was agreed at COP27 last year, making it the first UN fund dedicated to addressing climate-driven damage.

The fund was initially resisted by the European Union and the United States, who feared it could open the door to unlimited legal liabilities that would translate into hundreds of billions in reparations.

The EU finally gave in to pressure under two conditions – that the fund be targeted to the most vulnerable countries only and that the funding base be as large as possible so that major economies like China also contribute.

The EU also insisted that the new fund be tied to “serious commitments” on emissions reduction, warning that “no amount of money on this planet” will be enough to address the issue of loss and damage unless efforts are made to cut emissions.

Those conditions were underlined again by Hoekstra on Sunday.

“To launch the fund at COP28, we still need clear and ambitious results on mitigation,” the EU climate chief insisted.

“Climate change is so huge that no single institution, no country, and not even all the public money we can [muster] would be sufficient to address what is needed in terms of climate action,” he declared, highlighting the need for further progress on mitigation.

[Edited by Alice Taylor]

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