COP28: Vital agreement on Loss and Damage network reached as climate summit continues past time

Pictured: UNFCCC staff digest draft texts behind the scenes in Dubai. Image: UNFCCC Flickr, Kiara Worth

This afternoon (Tuesday 12 December), the UN has published new side documents on climate finance and the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage. These came around seven hours after the COP28 Presidency team had initially hoped to wrap up all proceedings on Tuesday morning.

Nations have agreed to support the UN in “promptly” launching the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage after 2023 comes to a close. Its advisory board should meet for the first time in Q1 of 2024.

The Network will be jointly hosted by two UN bodies, as agreed earlier this month. It will work to streamline the pathways through which climate-affected nations and regions are able to access technical assistance to prevent losses and damages, and to rectify them when they do occur.

The UN Office for Project Services’ director Jorge Moreira da Silva said: “Collectively, we have the tools, the know-how, and now we have the commitment to ensure that support will be fast-tracked to the developing countries on the front line of the climate emergency. We are committed to moving quickly on the full operationalisation of the network.”

This move could re-energise debates in Dubai. Already, the opening of the summit as December began feels worlds away. This marked a breakthrough agreement to operationalise the Loss and Damage Fund agreed to in principle at COP27. Subsequently, wealthy nations collectively pledged more than $700m within a week. Developing nations continued to push for additional pledges, guarantees this was new money, and timelines for the finance actually being allocated.

Also published on 12 December were a string of new documents on climate finance.

Nations have agreed in principle to start drafting a new post-2025 climate finance target, from a floor of $100bn, in 2024. The year will include three full technical dialogues and three additional meetings. A draft should come before COP29.

Finance should be increased to cover, meaningfully, the growing needs of developing nations already facing extreme weather, the text states. It adds that the finance will be mobilised from different sources including the private sector.

The existing climate finance target of $100bn per year by 2020, first floated in 2009, was not met. The OECD’s preliminary data suggests it may have been met for the first time in 2022, but delays have sown the seeds of distrust and discontent in the COP process among Global South attendees.

Boiling point

With official negotiations on a full and final text set to run through the night in Dubai, are the new side texts important?

They could represent a considerable shift from yesterday (Monday 11 December) if transcribed into the full agreement. A full draft version of the Global Stocktake texts published on Monday was almost universally criticised by major economies, for different reasons.

Nations including the US, Africa Group, China, India and Saudi Arabia blocked the inclusion of a fossil fuel phase-out in the text. Others including the EU and Alliance of Small Island States said advocated for nothing less than an unambiguous phase-out.

Trying to appease both factions, the Presidency proposed a text that stated a shared vision to “reduce both consumption and production of fossil fuels, in a just, orderly and equitable manner so as to achieve net-zero by, before, or around 2050 in keeping with the science”.

It elaborated with a list of options for climate mitigation actions that nations may wish to take, including scaling renewables, tackling energy inefficiency and building out nuclear.

A requirement for nations to ensure that new renewables, nuclear and energy efficiency displaced fossil fuels was struck off in this draft from previous editions.

The optional nature of these points was widely and fiercely criticised. Non-petrostates also questioned why the Presidency conflated these solutions with man-made carbon capture, which is in its relative infancy but is being pedalled as an alternative to a wholesale transition in the energy generation mix by those economically reliant on oil and gas.

Measures to bolster climate adaptation and resiliency were also largely presented as optional. NGOs had been observing ‘glacial’ progress this past weekend in terms of nations agreeing to operationalise a full adaptation plan and set a new adaptation finance goal.

Deal or no deal?

A shared point of contention concerned holes in the text on 11 December. This time on Monday, there was no text on post-2025 finance nor finance in the longer-term. Moreover, the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage decision had not crossed the finish line.

It is unlikely but not impossible for COPs to end with no agreement in the main. Some aspects may be postponed to intersessional meetings, hosted at the UN’s climate headquarters in Bonn each summer.

In this case, agreed statements on the nature and duration of the delay are included in the text. This does mean that the next COP hosts are lumbered with a lengthier to-do list.

Negotiators at COP28 have already firmed up postponements relating to annual adaptation finance, which the UN has said needs to grow at least tenfold and up to eighteenfold. The can has also been kicked down the road on requirements for nations to update their domestic adaptation plans – and for the UN’s Adaptation Committee to publish a new, regular synthesis report similar to that already existing for emissions cuts.

A no-deal is looking increasingly unlikely, but national negotiating teams and world leaders alike have reaffirmed commitments not to budge on fossil fuel language. The summit is now set to over-run by at least a full day.

A new full draft text is expected before Wednesday morning (13 December). Negotiators will continue working on consultations until 3am Dubai time. A decision is then expected on whether a final text can be agreed without a break, or whether the draft can go live in the morning.

Click here to view all of edie’s COP28 content

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie