Cop28 boosts coastal community climate role

12 December 2023

Of the $83.9bn in funding commitments made during the first 11 days of the Cop28 UN climate summit, $467m has been allocated to local climate action, in addition to $134m for adaptation, $129m for least-developed countries and $30bn for climate finance.  

The Loss and Damage Fund has also attracted commitments of over $720m, with more expected to come.

These financial commitments will benefit local communities globally that have been taking the brunt of extreme weather events such as floods and droughts.

"The Cop28 summit in Dubai has recognised that the success of nearly all agreed climate measures and funding will depend on local and sub-national government implementation," says Alfredo Coro II, mayor of Del Carmen municipality in the Philippines' southern Siargao Islands.

Coro attended the Local Climate Action Summit, which was organised as part of the Cop28 conference.

"We recognise [former New York City mayor] Michael Bloomberg's role in pushing for mayors to be at the forefront of discussions on climate change actions, policies and funding," Coro tells MEED.

"We hope our network… will be able to attract global organisations to listen and respect the innovations of small coastal communities to address climate change impact on oceans and support sustainable fishing, as well as coastal management."  

Coro also represents the Costal500, an alliance of mayors and other local government leaders from countries including Brazil, the Federated State of Micronesia, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Mozambique, Palau and the Philippines.

The Coastal500 alliance aims to serve as a platform for scaling climate adaptation and climate solutions in small local communities around the world.

"The local governments implement the climate action and they also absorb all the loss and damages," says Coro. "Recognising local governments in Cop28 will … play a major role in the discussions of operationalising the Loss and Damage Fund, from global finances to national government funds."

A total of 200 countries agreed to set up the Loss and Damage Fund at Cop27 last year, nearly 30 years since it was first discussed at a Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (Cop).

Cop28 announced operationalising the fund on 30 November, with the UAE and Germany each pledging $100m towards the fund; the UK pledging $75m; and the US, which has previously pushed back on the fund, planning to contribute $17.5m.

France and Italy each pledged $108m, Denmark pledged $50m, Norway committed $25m, and Japan and China each pledged $10m. 

According to Coro, the Coastal500 members have already proven case studies that, when replicated, will be able to help mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change on a family and community level.

He cites as an example an integrated climate adaptation and mitigation strategy in his municipality. "We rehabilitated our mangrove ecosystem and conducted investments to prepare our communities and local government," he explains.

These helped to minimise the loss of life when super typhoon Rai made landfall in the Siargao Islands in December 2021. However, the typhoon heavily damaged the islands' Climate Field School, which was funded by a climate adaptation fund in the Philippines.

"We hope that localising the policies and practices will give local governments the courage to demand the needed access to financing potential loss and damages that have direct consequences to their respective constituency and community," Coro says.

Drop in the ocean

The final mechanisms for the Loss and Damage Fund have yet to be finalised. It remains unclear whether the funds will be disbursed as loans or grants.

Unlike climate mitigation and adaptation projects that aim to reduce carbon emissions and improve community responses to extreme weather events, the Loss and Damage Fund intends to help communities that have already suffered losses such as flood-damaged bridges or dams and agricultural crop revenues.

Rich, carbon-emitting countries are the expected main sources of the fund, although China, the world's top carbon emitter, which is a developing country, could technically qualify both as a source and recipient of the fund.

While operationalisng the fund has been considered a breakthrough, some critics have said that the pledges so far amount to only 0.2 per cent of what is needed to address the problem.

"The millions promised for the Loss and Damage Fund at Cop28 are a drop in the ocean of what is needed," notes Lien Vandamme, a senior campaigner at the Centre for International Environmental Law.

“Hundreds of billions of public, grants-based, new and additional money is needed, and we cannot call this Loss and Damage Fund a success as long as this is lacking,” she added.

Mena extreme weather

Several countries in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region have recently suffered major calamities that can be directly linked to climate change. 

Thousands of people were feared to have drowned when a storm swept through Derna in eastern Libya on 11 September. Heavy rains from Storm Daniel caused a water dam about 12 kilometres from Derna to fail, sending water down a valley and overwhelming a second dam closer to the city.

The storm was called a Medicane – a portmanteau for Mediterranean and hurricane – which experts said drew enormous energy from extremely warm seawater. A warmer atmosphere is also understood to hold more water vapour that can fall as rain.

Photo: Pixabay
Jennifer Aguinaldo
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