The 28th United Nations climate summit commenced on a positive note, with the creation of a new fund aimed at assisting developing nations in managing the financial burdens caused by climate-related disasters. In Dubai’s Expo City, the conference gathered 52,000 party delegates and 90,000 non-party delegates, a significant assembly for this year’s proceedings.
The establishment of this fund, long advocated by developing nations and intensively discussed over nearly three decades, gained momentum during the previous summit in Egypt, owing in part to Pakistan’s extensive lobbying efforts following the 2022 floods and its leadership of the G77 group.
On the inaugural day of COP28, the creation of the fund marked the beginning of opportunities for governments to pledge contributions. Several countries, including the host UAE, Britain, the United States, Japan, Germany, and the European Union, announced initial pledges, with expectations of further financial commitments throughout the conference.
This breakthrough in addressing the demands of poorer nations regarding the damage fund might facilitate other compromises during the two-week summit, as noted by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who emphasized the fund’s significance as an “essential tool” for climate justice.
However, while celebrated by many, some groups expressed caution, highlighting unresolved issues such as future financing of the fund. There’s ongoing preparation for extensive negotiations on the phase-out of CO2-emitting sources like coal, oil, and gas, pivotal in global warming emissions reduction.
Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar joined in urging the immediate operationalization of the fund and emphasized its utilization based on need rather than linked to existing development funds or loans. He highlighted Pakistan’s focus on transitioning to renewable energy from coal-based power plants, offering an opportunity for collaboration with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and other economies.
PM Kakar underscored that Pakistan wasn’t primarily responsible for the climate crisis, urging for a fair and honest conversation rather than judgment. He called for wealthier nations to demonstrate responsibility, highlighting the historical devastation faced by provinces Sindh and Balochistan.
Additionally, scrutiny is placed on the UAE’s presidency at COP, with COP President Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber emphasizing collaboration between countries and fossil fuel companies to meet global climate goals. He acknowledged differing views on fossil fuels but reiterated the commitment to the 1.5-degree limit for global warming.
Dr. Jaber, who holds influential roles including CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), faced criticism from climate activists regarding his COP presidency. Despite this, he urged action and unity to achieve the targeted global warming limit, emphasizing the UAE’s commitment to the cause.