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Canada commits $16M to new global climate damage fund

After nations agreed to a landmark deal to create a global climate damage fund on the first day of climate talks at COP28, Canada pledged its own support on Friday and joined the list of developed countries to back the new deal. 

Other countries have pledged between $10M and $100M US.

A politician stands in front of a Canada sign.

After nations agreed to a landmark deal to create a global climate damage fund on the first day of climate talks at COP28, Canada pledged its own support on Friday and joined the list of developed countries to back the new deal.

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault announced an initial commitment of $16 million toward the loss and damage fund.

“We think this is a significant step forward,” Guilbeault said to reporters shortly after the opening of the Canadian pavilion at COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

“Canada has been arguing now more than a year that we should have a serious conversation about loss and damage after ignoring it for almost 30 years,” he said.

The fund is designed to help developing countries cope with the impacts of climate change such as floods, drought and rising sea levels.

More than $400 million US has been raised so far, including $100 million US from the U.A.E. and Germany, while the United States contributed $17.5 million. In U.S. dollars, Canada’s contribution is about $11.8 million.

Dozens of politicians and world leaders pose for a photo in front of flags.

For countries to reach this type of agreement is being applauded not only because of its significance, but also for making this type of progress so quickly after the conference began.

It was a history-making moment, said Catherine Abreu, founder and executive director of the advocacy group Destination Zero and a member of Canada’s Net-Zero Advisory Body.

“This loss and damage fund is something that developing countries, in particular vulnerable countries, have been pushing for for decades,” she said.

At a ceremony to mark the opening of the Canadian pavilion, some Indigenous leaders raised the issue of how many communities within Canada also need help to cope with severe climate impacts.

“Just this year, we saw significant loss and damage in our communities through forest fires and from floods and we’re seeing droughts now,” said Cassidy Caron, president of the Métis National Council, which has a 15-person delegation at COP28.

While the fund agreed upon at the UN climate talks on Thursday is only for developing nations, Guilbeault said there is work to do for all levels of government in Canada to better support Indigenous communities impacted by climate change.

King Charles is pictured walking with a group of people in the hallway of a conference venue.

The federal government is expected to make announcements during COP28 to tackle methane emissions and unveil details about a proposed emissions cap on the oilpatch.

As part of negotiations, Guilbeault said Canada will push for a deal on phasing out unabated fossil fuels by 2050. Several other countries support such a target, although there is resistance too, since the term “unabated” would allow countries to use carbon capture and storage facilities to collect emissions from the oil, gas and coal industries before they are released into the air.

The focus of COP28 is to reduce emissions to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrialized levels, which is considered important to avoiding a climate catastrophe.

The world is sure to surpass that target, said Bill Gates, Microsoft founder and climate philanthropist, in media interviews in Dubai.

Still, Gates said through the actions of governments, the world has avoided the extreme scenario of a four-degree rise, and progress at COP28 is important to drive further change.

Many world leaders arrived in Dubai on Friday and many took the stage to deliver speeches to urge negotiators to make progress on climate talks.

“Some important progress has been made, but it worries me greatly that we remain so dreadfully far off-track,” said King Charles, who warned the dangers of climate change were no longer a distant risk.

He finished his speech by adding: “The Earth does not belong to us. We belong to the Earth.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kyle Bakx

Business reporter

Kyle Bakx is a Calgary-based journalist with the network business unit at CBC News. He files stories from across the country and internationally for web, radio, TV and social media platforms. You can email story ideas to Kyle.Bakx@cbc.ca.

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