COP28 Deal ‘Ignores Adaptation Funding’


The final pact at the UN climate talks, which calls for a global shift away from fossil fuels, fails to deliver the needed finance to enable poorer countries to transition to greener energy and adapt to climate change, observers say.

The text eventually agreed at the talks, known as COP28, on Wednesday (13 December) brought the curtain down on two weeks of negotiations in Dubai, urging countries to “transition away from fossil fuels” – a first for the UN climate talks.

It stopped short, however, of a long-demanded call for a “phase-out” of oil, coal, and gas, backed by more than 100 nations.

“It’s a direction towards our goal but it’s not enough,” said Fatima Yamin, adviser on climate adaptation and climate disasters in Pakistan.

“Unfortunately, the critical decisions on adaptation finance and raising the bar on the loss and damage fund have not been achieved.

“Yes, ‘transition away from fossil fuels’ is critical, but developing countries need technology and funds to adapt, which is not going to be as effective if decisions on adaptation funds are not accelerated.”

The agreement says countries need to deliver a national adaptation plan by 2030 but fails to say where the money should come from.

UN report released in November found that developing nations will need up to 18 times more funding than they currently receive to withstand the impacts of climate change.

During the talks countries committed less than US$200 million to the UN Adaptation Fund, which will help vulnerable communities modify practices in the face of changing climate.

Draft text panned

A draft text released Monday had been broadly criticised for its weak language on fossil fuel reduction. The Alliance of Small Island States described it as a “death certificate” for its inhabitants.

COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber, who is also head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, received a standing ovation when he brought down the gavel on a final deal Wednesday morning, despite the avoidance of the contentious words “phase-out”, opposed by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

“We have language on fossil fuel for the first time ever,” Al Jaber announced to applause.

Jauad El Kharraz, executive director of the Regional Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, said the final deal was a “compromise formulation” between those who support a complete end to fossil fuels and “the parties that refuse to cut off the fossil fuels on which their economies depend”.

“This can be considered a step that can be built upon … a signing of the end of the fossil fuel era,” he said.

Funding missing

Referring to the target agreed at the 2015 COP21 talks in Paris to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, Kenzie Azmi, campaigner for Greenpeace Middle East and North Africa, said: “It is a step closer, but it will not meet the ambition required by the 1.5 goal.

“Communities on the frontline of the climate catastrophe need more than this.

“They need to see an unwavering and resolute commitment to a rapid, equitable, and well-funded phase-out of all fossil fuels, together with a comprehensive finance package for developing countries to transition to renewables and cope with escalating climate impacts.”

She said the agreement lacked sufficient means to achieve a transition to green energy “in a fair and fast manner”.

“The new text does not deliver any sustained additional finance for adaptation or mitigation, which is much needed for them to make a just transition away from fossil fuels … to allow them to cope with climate impacts, adapt to them, and transition away from fossil fuels,” she added.

Mohamed Adow, director of the Kenya-based climate organisation Power Shift Africa, said: “The transition may be fast – the text calls for a transition away from fossil fuels in this critical decade. But [it] is not funded or fair.

“We’re still missing enough finance to help developing countries decarbonise.

“There needs to be greater expectation on rich fossil fuel producers to phase out first.”

“We also need much more financial support to help vulnerable people adapt to the impacts of climate breakdown,” he added.

The Alliance of Small Island States complained that its delegation was not in the room when the decision was made. It said the text failed to respond adequately to climate science.

“It is not enough for us to reference the science and then make agreements that ignore what the science is telling us we need to do,” said lead negotiator Anne Rasmussen, of Samoa.

“This is not an approach that we should be asked to defend.”

Loss and damage

The conference had begun with a landmark vote to kick-start the Loss and Damage Fund, agreed at last year’s COP27 in Egypt. The fund was established to pay for the destruction wrought by climate change in vulnerable countries.

However, wealthy countries committed just US$700 million – a fraction of the US$100 billion or more wanted by developing countries to respond to climate disasters.

“Although we did get US$700 million pledged to the operationalised Loss and Damage Fund, it is not enough to meet the needed finance to help vulnerable communities around the global South to fund the catastrophes incurred by climate impact,” said Azmi from Greepeace.

El Kharraz said other positive outcomes for developing countries included commitments to triple renewable energy, improve the resilience of food systems, and reduce methane emissions.

This article was produced by SciDev.Net’s Global edition

Hadeer Elhadary

Hadeer Elhadary is an Egyptian journalist, interested in the environment, climate change, and solutions for a sustainable future. She has written for the Scientific American Arabic edition and undertaken fellowships with the Metcalf Institute- the University of Rhode Island, the Society of the Environmental Journalists in the United States, Info Nile, and the Oxford Climate Journalism Network. Her work has earned her awards from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, The German embassy, Africa 21, the Egyptian Syndicate, and Plan International.

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