© Reuters. People attend the COP27 climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt November 7, 2022. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
By Kate Abnett
SHARM EL-SHEIKH (Reuters) – As negotiators at COP27 wrangle over whether wealthy polluters should help vulnerable nations pay for costly extreme weather events fueled by climate change, a handful of small, European governments has stepped up to offer “loss and damage” funds.
The modest tally so far is nowhere near the hundreds of billions of dollars that experts predict will be needed each year by 2030 to help communities repair and rebuild when disasters hit. But the moves have broken decades of refusal by rich nations to offer such reparations or to discuss their historical responsibility for climate change for fear of liabilities.
Here are the pledges made so far:
Scotland, a nation within the United Kingdom, was the first to offer loss and damage funding at last year’s U.N. climate summit in November, making a symbolic 2 million pound pledge as a way to encourage other countries to follow suit.
While vulnerable countries say one-off commitments are no substitute for a fund to provide ongoing support, some praised Scotland’s leadership in acknowledging the issue.
At COP27 on Tuesday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon pledged an extra 5 million pounds, bringing the total to £7 million.
Denmark committed 100 million Danish crowns in September, with a focus on fragile areas including the Sahel region in northwestern Africa.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Monday at COP27 that Germany would provide 170 million euros for a “Global Shield” initiative launched by the Group of Seven rich countries and finance ministers from the Climate Vulnerable Forum group of 58 developing countries on the frontline of climate impacts. The initiative is aimed at strengthening insurance and disaster protection finance.
Scholz did not specify what the German funding would cover or over which period it would be provided. Countries are expected to formally launch the “Global Shield” later in the summit.
Austria will provide at least 50 million euros to tackle loss and damage over the next four years, the government said on Tuesday.
The funds could support the “Santiago Network”, a U.N. scheme providing technical support to countries faced with damages from climate-fuelled natural disasters, and a programme providing early warning systems to countries prone to extreme weather.
Irish PM Micheal Martin committion 10 million euros to the “Global Shield” initiative for 2023.
Belgium on Monday pledged 2.5 million euros as part of a 25-million-euro package of climate-related support for the southern African country of Mozambique from 2023 to 2028.
The government said its funding would focus on preventing and limiting loss and damage, for example by mapping areas vulnerable to storm surges and by rolling out early warning systems.
Some vulnerable countries say that type of funding does not count as “loss and damage” money, which they say should compensate countries for unavoidable costs from disasters.
Wealthy countries already provide funds to help countries adapt to climate change by preparing for worse weather impacts, although this funding has fallen short of promised amounts. In 2020 rich countries provided $83.3 billion in climate finance, a third of which went to adaptation.