Progress on Loss and Damage at COP28 at Risk if Wealthy Nations Don’t Change Posture

Statement by Dr. Rachel Cleetus, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Oct 21, 2023

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WASHINGTON—The U.N. Loss and Damage Transitional Committee, which consists of a geographically representative group of member nations, has concluded its fourth meeting in Egypt. The negotiations were aimed at furthering efforts to operationalize the fund for Loss and Damage to ensure a positive outcome on this vital issue at the upcoming annual U.N. climate talks—COP28—taking place in Dubai at the end of the year. Despite going well into overtime, the meeting ended in the early morning hours without clear recommendations and the committee instead decided to reconvene in early November. While a fund was created at the most recent U.N. climate talks last year, world leaders have yet to sort out the details for how and who will fund it, and where it will be located.

Below is a statement by Dr. Rachel Cleetus, the policy director and lead economist for the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

“Today’s disappointing outcome is a blow to communities in low- and middle-income countries facing an unrelenting onslaught of climate impacts. The United States and other rich countries seem more focused on evading or minimizing their responsibility than engaging in good faith negotiations to reach just outcomes. The United States’ continued insistence on locating the fund within the World Bank and refusal to acknowledge the primary responsibility of developed countries to provide funding is highly problematic. This posture must shift quickly ahead of COP28, or there’s a grave risk that nations will leave Dubai without agreement on operationalizing the Loss and Damage Fund.

“People on the frontlines of the climate crisis are already suffering severe economic and non-economic losses and damages caused primarily by richer nations’ heat-trapping emissions, and this dire situation is set to get worse as climate change accelerates. A clear set of recommendations from the Transitional Committee to get the Loss and Damage Fund up and running is crucial, as is making sure the fund is designed to meet the needs of climate-vulnerable communities.”

If you have any questions or would like to arrange an interview with Dr. Cleetus, please contact UCS Climate and Energy Media Manager Ashley Siefert Nunes.