Canada’s $16M COP28 climate aid may last ‘less than an hour’ in a crisis: experts

Click to play video: 'COP28: Countries approve ‘historic’ climate disaster fund on 1st day of summit'
COP28: Countries approve ‘historic’ climate disaster fund on 1st day of summit
COP28 president Sultan al-Jaber opened this year's United Nations (UN) climate summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), on Thursday by urging countries to find common ground in policies to meet global climate goals. In an early victory that representatives were hopeful for, delegates adopted a new fund to help poor nations cope with climate disasters, which Jaber said was 'historic.' – Nov 30, 2023

Canada’s pledge of $16 million for the loss and damage fund at COP28 would cover only about an hour’s worth of climate crises in developing countries, experts have said.

On Friday, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault, who is in Dubai for the COP28 summit, announced Canada’s pledge for a loss and damage fund, which would help developing countries rebuild after climate disasters.

“Canada is providing $16 million to address the impacts of climate change through the fund on loss and damage. Very encouraged to see COP28 Presidency demonstrate strong leadership in securing the adoption of the fund yesterday,” Guilbeault said in a post on the social media platform X on Friday morning.

The fund was set up at last year’s summit in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. It would be aimed at paying for the destruction of homes, crops and livelihoods caused by climate disasters.

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After a year of negotiations over contributions, countries at COP28 decided to launch the fund. While experts welcomed Canada’s contribution of $16 million, they said it “pales in comparison” to the scale of devastation that the Global South faces — and what other countries are offering.

“Less than an hour. That’s only what Canada’s new pledge of (US)$11.6 million will cover as the damage caused by the climate crisis through extreme weather has cost $16 million an hour for the past 20 years, according to a recent report,” said André-Yanne Parent, executive director of the Climate Reality Project Canada.

According to a report authored by two professors at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, extreme climate events have caused $16 million of damage per hour over the last 20 years. The report said a total of $140 billion a year is lost to extreme climate events, however, most of the extreme weather events used in the study were from either Europe or North America.

Another recent report said loss and damage in developing countries is already over $400 billion a year and is only expected to grow larger.

Parent added that the fund shouldn’t be seen as “charity” but rather “for levelling of responsibility for a fossil fuel-producing economy like ours.”

Another group, Climate Action Network Canada, said Canada’s contribution don’t even match up to those from other western, industrialized nations.

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“In contrast, Italy – currently led by a right-wing government – pledged 100 million Euros for the fund. Climate and development organizations urge Canada and other big polluters to scale up their contributions in line with the responsibility they bear for causing climate impacts,” a statement from the group said.

Julia Levin, associate director at Environmental Defence Canada, said Canada spends more money contributing to the climate crisis than it does paying for loss and damage.

“So far this year, Canada has provided over $10 billion to the companies fueling the climate crisis – and causing loss and damage in the first place.”

Click to play video: 'Canada not on track to reach climate goals as COP28 kicks off'
Canada not on track to reach climate goals as COP28 kicks off

The conference is taking place against the backdrop of the first-ever global assessment of the world’s commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Canada is a top-five oil producer in the world and has been criticized for planned increases to production through the end of this decade, at a time UN reports are warning that trend urgently needs to reverse.

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To address cuts to fossil fuel use, a number of world leaders, including the UN secretary-general, have called on countries at COP28 to commit to triple renewable energy capacity and double energy efficiency by 2030.

– with files from The Canadian Press

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