Delegates convened in Dubai on Thursday and achieved a pivotal breakthrough during the UN climate conference’s inaugural day by agreeing on the implementation of a fund aimed at compensating vulnerable nations impacted by climate change-induced loss and damage.
UN climate chief Simon Stiell expressed enthusiasm, emphasizing the significance of this development, prompting all participating governments and negotiators to leverage this momentum for delivering ambitious outcomes throughout the conference.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres, via X (formerly Twitter), hailed the operationalization of the fund as a crucial step towards achieving climate justice. He urged global leaders to support the fund’s objectives, aiming to kickstart COP28 on a robust footing.
This fund has been a longstanding demand from developing nations on the frontline of climate change, grappling with the financial burdens caused by escalating extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, and rising sea levels.
The decision to establish the fund gained traction during last year’s COP27 in Egypt, following years of rigorous negotiations at annual UN climate meetings. Notably, the United Arab Emirates committed $100 million to the fund, with Germany, the United States, and Japan also pledging substantial contributions.
The 28th annual COP, known as the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC, commenced in Expo City, Dubai, attracting over 70,000 delegates, climate negotiators, and participants striving collectively to forge a sustainable future for the planet.
The fund’s realization holds critical significance as it aims to compensate vulnerable nations coping with climate-induced loss and damage. Its objectives encompass supporting the reconstruction or replacement of vital infrastructure with more sustainable alternatives, among other interventions.
During the conference’s inauguration, Simon Stiell cautioned that the world’s response to the looming climate crisis is progressing sluggishly, emphasizing the urgent need for bolder actions to address the complex impacts of climate change.
He highlighted the alarming trend of shattered climate records and extreme weather events, emphasizing the toll on lives and livelihoods. Stiell warned that without substantial action, the planet’s capacity to withstand emissions will be depleted in approximately six years, pushing beyond the critical 1.5-degree limit outlined in the Paris Agreement.
Reports leading up to COP28 indicate a substantial deviation from achieving climate goals, projecting a worrisome temperature increase of 3 degrees by the century’s end in the absence of ambitious interventions.
Stiell urged countries to present ambitious new climate action plans in line with a 1.5-degree world, emphasizing the significance of delivering on commitments related to finance, adaptation, and mitigation.
COP28 signifies the pinnacle of the ‘Global Stocktake,’ evaluating progress made towards crucial provisions of the Paris accord. Stiell presented two options before the conference: either acknowledge the lack of progress and strive for future improvements, or commit to ensuring global safety and resilience, adequately funding the transition to a sustainable energy system.
He warned against the continued reliance on fossil fuels, emphasizing the need for a just transition to prevent adverse consequences, stressing the importance of justice within and between countries.
Stiell underscored the importance of holding nations accountable for their climate promises, urging delegates to take responsibility for delivering climate action both during the conference and within their respective countries.
Thursday’s proceedings marked the conference’s procedural start, with the substantive agenda kicking off on Friday through a ‘climate action summit,’ where world leaders will present their governments’ initiatives to address the global climate crisis.