Negotiations aimed at solidifying a plan for loss and damage funding ahead of this year’s COP 28 climate summit have already fallen behind schedule, with a lag in nominating committee members raising fears that vital climate recovery dollars for the world’s most vulnerable countries will be delayed.
The deadline for negotiating blocs to nominate Transitional Committee members was December 15, 2022, reports Climate Home News. But as of February 10, only 10 of the 24 seats had been filled. The Asia-Pacific region and the world’s least developed countries had yet to nominate members to the committee, created by a breakthrough decision at the COP 27 climate meeting in Egypt.
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A source with knowledge of developing countries’ position told Climate Home the process had bogged down because nine countries had their eyes four available spots and were unwilling to back down.
While the nomination process was complete by February 17, sources said the delay boded ill for the timeline of future meetings. An inaugural gathering is set for the end of March, and at least two more meetings must follow before COP 28, where a detailed proposal will be presented on who pays, who benefits, and who oversees how money is spent on the ground, Climate Home writes.
Much work must be done and the delay is “certainly worrying,” said Saleemul Huq, a Bangladeshi climate scientist and veteran of all 27 COP talks.
The ODI global think tank identifies six key “political and technical” questions the committee must answer before November.
First, it will need to “define the meaning and scope” of loss and damage.
“Although Article 8 of the Paris Agreement highlights the importance of ‘averting, minimizing, and addressing loss and damage,’ there is no official or precise definition of what constitutes climate-induced loss and damage, or what addressing it means.”
Committee members will also need to “devise a standard framework for tracking climate-related loss and damage,” to address the question of how much finance is needed. Once that framework is in place, “an analysis of available budgetary and non-budgetary financial resources for eligible countries [will] be required to estimate the loss and damage funding gap.”
ODI adds that “any cost estimation for loss and damage will always be subject to uncertainties and several assumptions, but without one, estimates of financial needs are meaningless.”
The Transitional Committee must also decide who gets the funding—“whether loss and damage funding should be directed at vulnerable countries—i.e. national or subnational governments—and/or vulnerable communities, with international and local NGOs and civil society organisations as intermediaries.”
It will also be up to the committee to decide “whether allocated funds can go through existing regional, national, or local budgetary arrangements for governments to allocate as they see fit, or whether specific loss and damage funds need to be set up.”
And then there is the extremely charged matter of who will cover the costs. Beyond an initial round of funding from rich nations, ODI calls for a “more sustainable mechanism to replenish the fund regularly,” noting that UN Secretary-General António Guterres wants to see a loss and damage levy applied to fossil fuel interests.
Finally, the committee will have to decide whether to recommend a new, stand-alone loss and damage fund, or a block of money administered through an existing mechanism.
Echoing the concerns of Huq and other climate justice advocates, ODI writes that the committee will “have its work cut out for it” to “clarify concepts, understand needs, establish principles, and ensure that after years of hard work, advocates’ ambitious hopes for loss and damage finance come to fruition.”
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