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UN committee deadlocked on climate disaster recovery fund

Sultan Al Jaber, chief executive of the UAE’s Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and president of this year’s COP28 climate summit gestures during an interview as part of the 7th Ministerial on Climate Action (MoCA) in Brussels on July 13, 2023.

Francois Walschaerts | Afp | Getty Images

United Nations representatives failed to secure a deal during late-night talks on how to implement a reparations fund for climate disaster recovery in developing nations.

The “loss and damage fund” would call on rich countries to finance the recovery of climate disasters that have wrecked developing nations and set them behind on their sustainability goals.

The commitment to establish the fund was one of the highlight announcements of last year’s UN Climate Conference, or COP27, after a series of down-to-the-wire negotiations. Part of the agreement at COP27 was the creation of a Loss and Damage Transitional Committee, which would be in charge of negotiating the details on how to set up and operate the fund.

The group was made up of representatives from developing nations like Pakistan, Egypt and Venezuela, as well as rich countries like the United States and the United Kingdom.

The 24-member committee met four times over the past week to settle on official recommendations for how to implement the fund. Those recommendations have been in dispute over the past year and are due to be completed in time to be adopted at this year’s COP28, which is set to take place at the end of November in Abu Dhabi.

At the beginning of the fourth meeting, Sultan Al-Jaber, the director of COP28 and a United Arab Emirates minister, pressed the representatives to pick up the pace of their negotiations: “I don’t want this to be an empty bank account. This committee has to deliver its recommendations.”

However, the talks slowed with representatives unable to reconcile their differences on how to operate the fund and who would pay for it.

The fourth meeting bled into the late hours of Friday night and early Saturday morning, as committee members grew increasingly frustrated by the lagging progress.

“I spent all day with a cold working on this, feeling like crap and I want to see it affected somewhere,” Diann Black-Layne, an environmental director for Antigua and Barbuda, said at the meeting.

The meeting ended with no solid resolution and a plan to set up a fifth meeting on the issue, as the COP28 deadline inches nearer.

“What message do I take back home?” said Ali Waqas Malik, representing Pakistan. “You came empty-handed. There is nothing on the table. No recommendations.”

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