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COP28 agrees to raise ‘Loss and Damage Fund’

Published : 01 Dec 2023 03:46 PM

Thousands of delegates representing 198 countries gathered in Dubai of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the world’s most crucial annual climate change summit ‘COP28’ began there on Thursday.  

The two-week long 28th annual session of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be held from November 30 to December 12 under the presidency of the UAE.

At the beginning of COP28 summit’s opening ceremony, world leaders recalled Professor Dr. Saleemul Huq, a leading global figure in climate change research and policy. 

Silence was observed in the opening ceremony in the memory and honour of deceased Bangladesh national, a member of Bangladesh delegation confirmed the information to Bangladesh Post over WhatsApp. 

Professor Dr. Saleemul Huq, who was the Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) and chair the Expert Advisory Group for the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF); passed away in Dhaka on October 29. He worked a lot to introduce the Loss and Damage Fund. 

Meanwhile, COP28 has agreed to establish the loss and damage fund , which is a huge win for the COP28 presidency on the opening day of the conference. Small island states have been campaigning for a loss and damage fund for 30 years. The UAE is likely to see this as a huge win for the Presidency as the two week conference kicks off amidst controversy over its legitimacy in running the talks. 

After five meetings this year the loss and damage Transitional Committee agreed on a set of recommendations for the fund. This is despite disagreements between developing countries and developed countries over various issues such as the World Bank being the entity for the fund and mechanisms such as direct access. 

It has been agreed that the fund should have “at least” $100bn a year in loss-and-damage funding by 2030. This is considered the ‘floor’ (the minimum) the fund will require. Payments into the fund are on a voluntary basis. The text states that developed countries are “invited” to make contributions.

There are pledges so far: UAE: $100 million, Germany: $100 million, UK: $40m to the Fund and £20m for other funding arrangements for loss and damage US: $17m, Japan: $10m.

Members of the Transitional Committee called for the fund to operate in accordance with the principles of the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement. The loss and damage fund will have an independent secretariat with a board consistency of members. 

Diplomats from the countries and heads of state and governments from 150 countries are scheduled to attend the global event. 

About 200-member mammoth government and non-government Bangladesh delegation, led by Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Md Shahab Uddin, is participating in the COP28 with special focus on the operationalisation of the ‘Loss and Damage Fund (LDF)’.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UK PM Rishi Sunak are expected to attend the summit, along with dozens of other world leaders and 70,000 attendees. US Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to attend the global climate summit after US President Joe Biden backed out.

The UN talks will discuss the rich nations’ impacts of climate change on the most vulnerable countries, including Bangladesh. At the COP28, the leaders of member countries will discuss the climate chance issue. They will also discuss how to address global temperature rise.

Diplomats from the countries and many heads of state and governments will also to try to draft a plan to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels.

The ‘Loss and Damage Fund (LDF)’ has a deadline to come into force by the end of this year’s annual climate change conference. The fifth and final meeting of the UN Transitional Committee to design a loss and damage fund ahead of the COP28 concluded in Abu Dhabi last month. The fund will be housed in the World Bank. 

There are a number of battles over how the fund would operate. However, the entire COP28 negotiations could be derailed if the matter is not properly addressed. Bangladesh expects a fair settlement of the ‘Loss and Damage Fund’ from this year’s summit. 

Mirza Shawkat Ali, director (climate change & international convention) at Department of Environment (DoE) who is a member of the Bangladesh delegation; said that like other countries, the Bangladesh delegation is also joining the COP28 with the preparations to play an effective role over the climate change issue and the Loss and Damage Fund.

Meanwhile, like the previous years, Bangladesh has already set up a pavilion of 152 square metres at the COP28 venue in Dubai and will organise various sideline events there.

Experts on climate change and environmentalists called upon the Bangladesh delegation to ensure the Loss and Damage Fund at this climate conference.

Professor Dr Ahmad Kamruzzaman Majumder, chairman of the Department of Environmental Science at Stamford University Bangladesh and founder of the Center for Atmospheric Pollution Studies (CAPS); is now in Dubai to join COP28 as a non-government delegate.   

Talking to Daily Bangladesh Post, he said that the climate conference is a platform where all countries come to work together to deal with climate risks.  Bangladesh is set to advocate for the operationalization of the ‘Loss and Damage Fund’, focusing on effective climate adaptation and mitigation.

Professor Ahmad Kamruzzaman Majumder, however, said that Bangladesh faces significant challenges posed by temperature rise and sea level rise which made the climate issue a major concern for the country.

The government currently allocates about 6-7 per cent of annual budget to enhance climate resilience.

The concept of ‘Loss and Damage Fund’ comes aiming to provide support to the most vulnerable countries. The fund is important for poor countries that have contributed minimally to the climate crisis but are suffering its most severe impacts.

However, Bangladesh is on the first row in the list of affected countries despite not being responsible for climate change. The country has been constantly suffering from the luxury of developed countries. However, it the Loss and Damage Fund is implemented at this climate conference, Bangladesh will get compensation from the fund.

“We hope that the COP28 will live up to Bangladesh’s expectations,” said Professor Ahmad Kamruzzaman Majumder.