Nearly 200 nations agreed to launch a fund to support countries hit by global warming, in a “historic” moment at the start of UN climate talks in the oil-rich UAE.
The landmark announcement came as the Emirati host of the COP28 talks declared that fossil fuels must be part of any final climate deal negotiated over the next two weeks.
The talks in Dubai come at a pivotal moment for the planet, with the UN on Thursday declaring 2023 on track to become the hottest year in human history.
The formal establishment of the “loss and damage” fund long sought by climate-vulnerable nations provided an early win at COP28, where sharp divisions over the phasing out of fossil fuels were immediately apparent.
“We have delivered history today,” said COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber as delegates embraced, cheered and gave a standing ovation.
Climate finance has been a key sticking point at COP, with wealthy nations most responsible for emissions not delivering on promises to support the vulnerable states who are worst affected but least responsible for global warming.
The UAE announced $100 million toward the loss and damage fund with the European Union following with $246 million.
More pledges are expected in the coming days, but the amounts so far fall well short of the $100 billion developing nations say are needed.
UN secretary general calls for a future without fossil fuels
Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged world leaders at the COP28 climate summit to plan for a future without fossil fuels, saying there was no other way to rein in global warming.
Speaking a day after COP28 president Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber proposed embracing fossil fuels into the future, Guterres said “we cannot save a burning planet with a fire hose of fossil fuels”.
“The 1.5-degree limit is only possible if we ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels. Not reduce. Not abate,” he said, referring to nascent technologies to capture and store carbon emissions.
The dueling visions summed up the most divisive issue facing world leaders at this year’s UN climate summit in the oil-producing country of United Arab Emirates.
King Charles III highlights climate change impacts on Pakistan, India
King Charles III of Britain pleaded with world leaders to make progress in the global climate agenda.
“Scientists have been warning for so long, we are seeing alarming tipping points being reached,” he said, warning that failing to rein in emissions would result in catastrophe.
Charles cited the impact of climate change globally, including floods in India and Pakistan and severe wildfires in the United States, Canada and Greece.
“Unless we rapidly repair and restore nature’s economy, based on harmony and balance, which is our ultimate sustainer, our own economy and survivability will be imperilled,” said the king, who has spent most of his adult life campaigning on the environment.