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Vulnerable countries win big at day 1 of COP28 with hundreds of millions in pledges

At the COP28 opening Thursday all parties agreed to operationalize the loss and damage fund and funding arrangements.

NOVEMBER 30: His Excellency Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, COP28 President (L5), and participants applaud at the UNFCCC Formal Opening of COP28 during the UN Climate Change Conference COP28 at Expo City Dubai on November 30, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by COP28 / Christopher Pike)

Sustained applause filled the Plenary Hall in Dubai, when news broke that a decades-long fight to get money to vulnerable and poor countries affected by climate change, had finally been adopted – and on the first day of COP28 at that.

In what has been called a historic and unprecedented decision, all parties agreed to operationalize the fund as well as funding arrangements.

On Thursday, several countries around the world collectively pledged initial funding of more than US$400 million. According to reports, $245m will come from the EU, including US$100m from Germany. There is also $75m from the UK, $24.5m from the US and $10m from Japan.

“Today’s news on loss and damage gives this conference a running start,” said UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell. “This is 30 years of discussion which concluded in Sharm El Sheikh last year with that historic decision to establish the fund and funding arrangements. But the challenge was how within a one year period, which is five meetings of the committee, to actually work out the details of how to operationalise it and not just operationalising it but also to start that seed capital for it.”

COP28 President, His Excellency Dr. Sultan Al Jaber said the committee approached the task in an “unconventional way” and with “extraordinary effort”. “The fact that we have been able to achieve such a significant milestone in the first day of this COP is unprecedented.”

The decision, he said, was made without delay and true to the promises made in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt at COP27.

The funds will be used to pay for unavoidable damage caused by climate change like sea level rise, prolonged heat waves, droughts, hurricane and storm damage and other extreme weather events which are anticipated to become more frequent and severe.

Before leaving to attend the Conference, Director at the Department of Environment, Ambassador Dianne Black Layne said the adoption of the fund was a priority area that she wanted to see supported. 

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