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Gaps found in battle against climate crisis

By HOU LIQIANG in Dubai, UAE | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-12-04 09:36

Xie Zhenhua (third from left), China's special envoy for climate change, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber (center), COP28 president, and John Kerry (second from right), US' climate envoy, among others, attend an energy session at the climate conference at Expo City Dubai, on Saturday. COP28/NEWSCOM

UN urges rich nations to honor financial commitments, help vulnerable states

Editor's note: As COP28 takes place in the UAE, this page looks at the efforts and the initiatives the UN conferences have championed as well as the global pledge to fight climate change.

Although a new Loss and Damage Fund has been operationalized for the most vulnerable poor nations in the face of climate change, countries in the Global South are still confronted with huge financial gaps in coping with the climate crisis, officials of the United Nations and developing countries say.

Addressing the G77 and China Leader's Summit on Saturday, which was held on the sidelines of the COP28 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed grave concerns over the fulfillment of financial commitments made by developed countries to support climate actions in developing countries.

The developed countries must honor the commitment of delivering $100 billion, he said.

In 2009, developed countries pledged to mobilize $100 billion per year by 2020 to support climate action in developing countries. The promise, however, has not yet been fully honored.

"We need to see much greater support for the new Loss and Damage Fund," Guterres said. "It started well but with not much money."

First agreed during COP27, which was held in Egypt late last year, the fund has been a long-standing demand of developing nations to help them cope with the costs of the devastation caused by climate change.

The fund was operationalized on Thursday when the two-week-long annual UN climate gathering in Dubai opened.

Several countries, led by the UAE, made financial commitments to the fund, with the UAE and Germany each contributing $100 million.

"Climate finance still has a long way to go," Guterres stressed. "Up to 18 times more finance is needed for adaptation to meet the current needs of developing countries."

The International Energy Agency estimates that the transition to net zero in emerging markets and developing economies will cost more than $2 trillion annually by 2030, he said.

Dennis Francis, the president of the 78th Session of the General Assembly, called for further actions from developed countries to ensure the sufficiency of resources in the new fund.

The severe economic, social and environmental devastation from climate change creates more debilitating consequences for developing countries, he emphasized at the G77 and China Leader's Summit.

"Despite having made a minuscule contribution to this crisis, naturally this is most worrisome in the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing states," he said.

Accelerating adaptation

It is thus essential that COP28 deliver an ambitious series of climate action outcomes that accelerate climate adaptation to assist and support those most vulnerable struggling on the front lines, he said.

"Now that the (loss and damage) fund is established, it is hoped that other countries will follow the strategic leadership of the UAE and Germany and ensure the sufficiency of resources in the fund to underwrite the financial requirements for the adoption of adequate adaptation mechanisms," he said.

At a dialogue session discussing the sustainable development of enterprises on Friday, Xie Zhenhua, China's special envoy for climate change, said the operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund marked "big progress".

"We are happy for that," he said.

In accordance with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and its 2015 Paris Agreement, developed countries should provide financial and technological support to developing nations and now there has been progress in this regard, he said.

"We hope for more contributions to the fund. And the developed nations should make even greater efforts for that," he said.

Wilber Khasilwa Ottichilo, the governor of Kenya's Vihiga County and the chairman of the Environment and Climate Change Committee at the Council of Governors in the African nation, also welcomed the fund, but he said a lot more is still needed.

"It's a very necessary fund, particularly for developing countries and Africa because we are bearing the brunt of climate change, but we contribute very little," he told China Daily.

The commitment from a few countries to the Fund is a welcome move. But he said that's "a drop in the ocean".

"We hope that more countries will come in and commit, particularly the countries that have contributed to the overall problem of climate change in the world," he said.

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