Rich nations have promised to pay for the climate crisis – but will they?

(The Guardian, 26 Nov 2022) For too long pledges have gone unmet, so at Cop28 new solutions need to be explored.

On Sunday, loud cheers from Sharm el-Sheikh greeted the announcement of a new initiative – the global loss and damage fund – to right historical wrongs by compensating climate-hit developing countries. This breakthrough brought back memories of another, the £100bn a year agreed at the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit to help poor countries mitigate the effects of the climate crisis.

That money has never fully materialised. If our 13 years’ experience of the £100bn fund that never was is anything to go by, eulogies of praise will soon turn into allegations of betrayal. The president of next year’s Cop28 will have to answer for yet another fund without funders. Far from the loss and damage fund narrowing the credibility gap on climate action, it is likely to bridge nothing if money fails to flow from rich to poor.

The last decade has been a history of promises made and broken. Before Covid, the cost of financing the sustainable development goals (SDGs) was $2.5tn a year. Now, post-Covid, and with the price of fighting floods, firestorms and droughts – and the debt burden of low-income countries – dramatically escalating, it is $4tn annually.

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The Guardian, 26 Nov 2022: Rich nations have promised to pay for the climate crisis – but will they?