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COP28: Climate summit starts with agreement on loss and damage fund

30 November 2023
Middle East - UAE - COP28 - Loss and damage fund agreed - Diego Martinez Schuett

Negotiators at COP28 reached an agreement on how the new loss and damage fund will operate in the opening hours of the UN climate summit

The COP28 climate talks have begun with countries agreeing on the first day of the UN summit how a ‘loss and damage fund’ will operate.

The climate conference, which will take place in the United Arab Emirates from 30 November to 12 December, will be a key opportunity for governments to commit to speed up action and support communities on the frontline of the climate crisis.

Pope Francis, who was forced to cancel plans to attend the COP due to ill-health, has called for world leaders at the annual climate conference to put the “global common good” above their own national interests.

Countries agree how loss and damage fund will operate

Negotiators at COP28 agreed that the new loss and damage fund would be run by the World Bank in its first years of operating, with funding provided by rich countries who have contributed the greatest volume of greenhouse gases in recent decades.

Governments agreed in 2022 at COP27 to set up a loss and damage fund, but details of how the fund would operate were left to be decided.

The agreement to set up the fund was in recognition of the need for rich countries to provide financial assistance to the low-income countries, where communities are suffering irreversible destruction from the climate crisis, such as damage to homes and ways of living.

Liz Cronin, Climate Policy Lead at CAFOD, said:

“The COP28 decision to finally operationalise the long-awaited loss and damage fund is a really positive way to start the two weeks here in Dubai.

“The UK has pledged up to £60 million which is a really welcome recognition of how important the fund is and the country's historic responsibility for climate impacts. 

"Whilst this is a great start to COP, the fund now needs filling up with new and additional climate finance that isn't just moved from existing climate finance commitments. CAFOD are calling on the UK and all developed countries going forward to step up and contribute their fair share to the fund.”

What needs to happen at COP28?

As one of the largest historic emitters of the greenhouse gases driving the climate crisis, we’re calling for the UK government to play its part by taking action on three fronts:

  1. Push for the world to consign fossil fuels to history in order to keep global temperature rises below 1.5C. Staying below this limit can only be achieved by stopping all new oil, coal and gas projects and rapidly phasing out existing production.

  2. Fund the loss and damage fund with new money from grants, rather than loans which will only exacerbate the debt crisis faced by low-income countries. Governments at COP27 agreed to set up this fund to support countries suffering from the impacts of climate catastrophes.

  3. Support small-scale farmers who are growing food in ways that protect nature rather than harm it. The government must channel financial and technical support towards small-scale farmers and away from big agricultural companies that are damaging the environment.

How have CAFOD supporters been campaigning in the run-up to COP28?

Thousands of CAFOD supporters have called for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to stick to the UK’s climate pledges in the months leading up to COP28 and for the UK government to push other countries to make ambitious commitments at the summit in the UAE.

Hundreds of Catholics took part in a service and march in April to declare they had ‘No faith in fossil fuels’. Hundreds more have written ‘Prayers for Tomorrow’ to reflect on what each of us can do to care for our common home and pray for leaders to show the wisdom needed to tackle the climate crisis.

Thousands of people have signed petitions urging Rishi Sunak not to backtrack on the UK’s climate finance and net zero promises, with thousands of others writing to MPs about Pope Francis’s call for leaders to act at COP28.


COP28 London march

March in solidarity with people on the frontlines of the climate crisis and bring Pope Francis’ COP28 message to the streets of London.