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Disagreements sour final meeting on Cop28's loss and damage committee

Campaigners have listed key issues to be resolved ahead of climate talks in December, reporting that rich countries are seeking to narrow scope of fund
The committee will deliver recommendations at upcoming Cop28 climate summit, set to be held in Dubai in December (Reuters)

The final meeting of the committee tasked with designing the new fund to support developing countries addressing permanent “loss & damage” from climate impacts will meet for the fourth and final time today in Aswan, Egypt.

Significant disagreements have been reported between representatives of developed and developing nations.

The loss and damage fund (LDF) was launched at last year’s Cop27.

The Transitional Committee (TC) is intended to present a set of recommendations determining the scope, governance, and function of the fund at the upcoming Cop28 UN Climate Summit slated to be held in Dubai in December.

A coalition of civil society organisations working on the fund is pushing a long list of issues to be resolved at the fourth session, set to run from 17th-20th October.

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Areas of contention in past meetings include the fund’s location.

While the US and EU have proposed that the fund should be housed in the World Bank, representatives of developing nations have argued that the bank’s new financial intermediary fund (FIF) framework would prevent countries from directly accessing funding, as they would have to go through intermediaries.

According to Harjeet Singh, Climate Action Network’s (CAN) head of global political strategy and civil society observer to the Transitional Committee meeting, another major point of contention is defining the scope of the fund’s contributors. 

“Developed countries are keen to open [the fund] to new contributors,” Singh told MEE. 

“This means large developing countries. As civil society… we are talking about [loss and damage inflicted by] historical emissions, not developing nations’ recent emissions,” he said.

A narrowing of criteria

Another priority listed by the coalition is that all developing countries should be eligible for the fund.

“I have been following negotiations for 15 years, and every time the effort is to narrow down the scope of the funding,” Singh told MEE.

According to Singh, negotiations have been repeatedly frustrated by representatives of developed nations who insist on narrowing the fund’s criteria, arguing that recipients of the LDF should be limited to the least developed countries, small island developing states, and “particularly vulnerable” countries. 

This criteria excludes many climate disaster-stricken countries like Libya, which was recently devastated by flooding that killed an estimated 20,000 people in the eastern city of Derna.

Without the fund, Libya will have to take out punishing loans to finance its recovery, much like Mozambique did following Cyclone Idai in 2019. The IMF agreed to a $118.2m loan but ruled that the devastation was not severe enough for Mozambique to qualify for debt relief from the fund.

“How is Libya going to recover?” Singh said, “It’s a story that will run for years. And we don’t have an international system to help.”

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