UN agency leads calls for fast tracking of global climate 'loss and damage' fund

UNECA's Chief of Climate Change and Natural Resource Management Division James Murombedzi. [Courtesy]

The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has called for a speedy establishment of the earlier mooted 'loss and damage' fund to provide finance to countries hit by climate disasters.

James Murombedzi, the chief of Climate Change Section at the Technology, Climate Change and Natural Resource Management Division of the UNECA told The Standard on the sidelines of the ongoing African Climate Summit in Nairobi the creation of the fund should be fast tracked.

Murombedzi issued the clarion call as he warned the globe's 'speed of climate response is slower than the speed of climate change' in a move likely to hurt African countries if not arrested.

"The priority for African countries is adaptation. How do we get capacity to design adaptation projects? Kenya has for example been going through four years of drought. It is now predicted the region will suffer El Nino which will lead to serious flooding," said Mr Murombedzi.

he added, "How do we support (the loss and damage fund) to become an operational facility? Who is going to produce the funding? How are we going to assess loss and damage?"

The agreement to establish a "loss and damage" fund was secured at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change's (UNFCCC) 27th Conference of the Parties (COP 27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt last November. The deal did not however spell out who would pay into the fund or how money would be disbursed.

Before COP27 rich Western countries had long resisted calls from vulnerable states for a loss and damage fund, fearing it could make them liable for historic emissions.

A committee tasked with deciding how funding should work held its first, three-day meeting recently in the Egyptian city of Luxor. It included 14 representatives of developing countries, and 10 from developed countries.

Financing and Africa's negotiating position in upcoming global talks has dominated the continent's first climate summit held in Kenya.

Deliberations from the conference will lead to a so called Nairobi Declaration to be issued at the end of the event on Wednesday. It will outline Africa's position on issues ahead of the COP28 UN climate summit to be held in Dubai beginning at the end of November this year.

Mr Murombedzi of the UNECA said it was also imperative to declare a global climate emergency, adding that there is urgent need for the whole world to move with speed in boosting adaptation efforts.

"What is concerning for us is that the speed of the climate response is slower than the speed of climate change. So how can we ensure funds are made available as quickly as possible? How can you ensure that policies are implemented as quickly as possible? How can we ensure that the net zero goal is achieved as quickly as possible? posed Mr Murombedzi.

"For that we have to recognise that this is an emergency situation that we're operating in."

The UNECA climate chief equally pushed for a new international financing model that allows heavily indebted African nations to service their obligations while putting cash aside for climate action without burdening them.

"The work that we have done at ECA demonstrates, we are spending anything between three and 5 per cent of our own GDP on adaptation to the impacts of climate change. The costs of adaptation are increasing," he said.

"And we expect that the commitments that have been made to the Paris Agreement, like $200 billion a year that this actually be made available to assist African countries, in other developing countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change. We also recognise that the 100 billion dollars' pledge is not enough. It's actually less than the actual cost of self-adaptation."

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