Analysis: COP28 Begins with an Impact

 Analysis: COP28 Begins with an Impact

A report on the swift and unexpected adoption of the package devised by the Transition Committee regarding the operation of the new Loss and Damage Fund

By Jacopo Bencini*

Translation: Daniele Savietto

The determination of the United Arab Emirates’ presidency to dispel doubts and suspicions about this first COP led by a CEO of an oil company was evident in the period between the handover from Sameh Shoukry of Egypt to Sultan Al Jaber of the United Arab Emirates – Presidents of COP27 and COP28, respectively, who jointly attended the opening plenary on November 30 – and the first decision adopted.

There was not only a visual and symbolic connection between the two COPs but also a political one, as the new presidency immediately sought a significant result in what had been the theme of 2022: the new Loss and Damage compensation fund. It was expected that during this COP, delegates would discuss the work done in recent months by the Transition Committee, tasked with drafting regulations for the new fund. 

The question was whether delegates would risk extending the deadline by reopening a text that was already locked for many – but pleased almost no one, starting with concerns about the World Bank as host and legitimate questions about human rights – or go straight to the complete package, a ‘take it or leave it’ approach.

Less than three hours after the start of the proceedings, it was clear that the Presidency had already taken the necessary political steps to quickly reach a result. Indeed, a draft decision on this matter had appeared among the UNFCCC documents on Wednesday night, under agenda item 8.g. Thus, as the first act of this unusual and unprecedented oil-based COP, we witnessed the long-awaited launch of the Loss and Damage Fund, to compensate for losses and damages in the most vulnerable countries, through the adoption of the decision in the first plenary session. 

This is quite unusual for a COP, where significant decisions are usually debated for days on end. It was a political leap forward, well-managed by the United Arab Emirates in their desire to expedite the process, but it leaves those disappointed who hoped for at least a partial review of this text.

As Italian Climate Network, we launched a campaign at the end of summer (#SottoiNostriOcchi), which was adopted by influencers, activists, and local authorities, calling on governments worldwide, especially the Italian government, to contribute to the effective launch of the Fund as part of the European delegation and, ideally, for Italy to make an initial starting contribution. 

On Thursday, the European delegation in Dubai announced the European funding for the fund – already pre-announced a few days ago by European Commissioner Hoekstra – amounting to 225 million euros, with over 100 million coming just from Germany (which last year announced a contribution of 170 million euros to the ‘rival’ Global Shield, based on insurance schemes rather than grants), and approximately 23 million euros from Denmark. Similarly, the United Arab Emirates announced an initial contribution of 100 million dollars, the United Kingdom 75 million dollars, and Japan 10 million dollars. 

Almost last in this initial and certainly preliminary ranking of the biggest historical emitters, the United States, which showed up in Dubai with a meager (ethically expected) contribution of 17.5 million dollars. The ongoing financial disengagement of the United States, though not total in this case, from its historical responsibilities in terms of emissions is perhaps the most discordant note at the start of COP28 – it should be noted, however, that less than a month ago, the United States decided to contest the consensus on the text reached at the Transition Committee, which was not reiterated on the first day of negotiations.

What to Expect from Italy

And Italy? To date, there is no precise indication of Italy’s role within the European delegation in supporting today’s decision, nor certainty about Italy’s financial commitment to the new Fund, although we imagine it will be present. It is important to note that the path to the new Fund was already open to our government for some time, as indicated by the agenda approved (by the majority) on November 28 in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, which invited the government to contribute. The text approved by the governing parties came after the presentation of a text on the same subject by the Democratic Party, which asked Palazzo Chigi to commit to an initial contribution of 100 million euros to the new Fund, an amount that disappeared from the text effectively approved.

We will closely follow the intervention of Prime Minister Meloni on the day of the leaders, from where we might get news about Italy’s contribution to the Fund and, at the same time, an expected update on the Italian Climate Fund, which has not yet been incorporated into the Mattei Plan and is still not active, despite having been launched twice in 2021 and then at COP27 last year.

*Jacopo Bencini is a European and Multilateral Climate Policy Consultant at the Italian Climate Network, partner of the Youth Press Agency.”

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