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On first day, UN climate conference sets up fund for countries hit by disasters like flood and drought

An injured man was carried in Blantyre, Malawi, Monday, March 13, 2023, in the aftermath of Cyclone Freddy.Thoko Chikondi/Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The world just took a big step toward compensating countries hit by deadly floods, heat and droughts.

Nearly all the world’s nations on Thursday finalized the creation of a fund to help compensate countries struggling to cope with loss and damage caused by climate change, seen as a major first-day breakthrough at this year’s U.N. climate conference. Some countries started putting in money right away — if little compared to the overall anticipated needs.

Sultan al-Jaber, the president of the COP28 climate conference in Dubai, hailed "the first decision to be adopted on day one of any COP” — and his country, the United Arab Emirates — would chip in $100 million to the fund. Other countries stepped up with big-ticket commitments, including Germany, also at $100 million.

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Developing nations had long sought to address the problem of inadequate funding for responding to climate disasters caused by climate change, which hit them especially hard, and for which they have little responsibility — industrialized countries have spewed out carbon emissions that are trapping heat in the atmosphere.

But many details of the “loss and damage funds" were left unresolved, such as how large it would be, who would administer it, and more.

A recent report by the United Nations estimates that up to $387 billion will be needed annually if developing countries are to adapt to climate-driven changes.

Some activists and experts are skeptical that the fund will raise anything close to that amount. A Green Climate Fund that was first proposed at the 2009 climate talks in Copenhagen, and began raising money in 2014, hasn’t come close to its goal of $100 billion annually.

The fund will be hosted by the World Bank for the next four years and the plan is to launch it by 2024. A developing country representative will get a seat on its board.

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A number of industrialized nations have insist that all countries should contribute to the fund, and the agreement will prioritize those most vulnerable to climate change — even though any climate-affected community or country is eligible.


Arasu reported from Bengaluru, India.