The European Union’s climate leader has stated that China should contribute to financing the recovery of developing countries impacted by natural disasters.
The European Union’s climate leader has stated that China and other major developing countries should contribute to a fund in order to assist impoverished nations affected by the effects of climate change. This comes as global leaders are getting ready to convene in Dubai for a significant climate conference.
EU’s climate action commissioner, Wopke Hoekstra, stated that there is now no justification for leaving out major developing economies, like China, and oil-rich countries in the Gulf, from contributing to aid for the most disadvantaged and susceptible nations affected by high greenhouse gas emissions.
“In order to fund climate initiatives, it is necessary for a wide range of individuals to contribute financially,” stated Hoekstra during a meeting with journalists, including those from the Observer. “The amount needed for climate action is significantly higher than what we currently have. This is not a matter of a small increase, but rather a substantial increase in the years ahead. We require investments from both the private and public sectors to achieve this goal.”
The question of finance for poor countries will take centre stage at Cop28, a fortnight-long summit of world leaders and high-level ministers and officials from 198 countries that begins in Dubai on Thursday.
The anticipated attendees include Rishi Sunak, the prime minister of the UK; Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the EU Commission; the pope; and António Guterres, the secretary general of the UN. King Charles is scheduled to give the opening speech.
The leaders of the two biggest producers of carbon dioxide, China and the US, Xi Jinping and Joe Biden, will not be present but will send top-level delegates.
Over 70,000 attendees are anticipated, and the discussions have already sparked debate: the host nation, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is a major oil producer and has assigned Sultan Al Jaber, the head of the UAE’s national oil company Adnoc, as the summit’s president.
It is anticipated that at Cop28, governments will establish a fresh fund for addressing “loss and damage”. This term pertains to aiding and restoring impoverished and at-risk communities impacted by the effects of climate disasters.
It is estimated that a large sum of money, potentially in the hundreds of billions, will be required from multiple sources such as private companies and governments. However, only a limited number of countries have made commitments thus far.
Since the signing of the UN framework convention on climate change in 1992, China and other developing countries were not required to make financial contributions for several decades. This treaty serves as the basis for the Paris agreement.
The EU and wealthy nations, including the UK and US, are currently requesting that China, high-emitting developing economies like South Korea and Russia, and petrostates such as UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, provide donations.
“I am urging China and other countries that have seen significant economic growth and increased wealth over the past 30 years to recognize their responsibility in addressing this issue,” stated Hoekstra. “It is only fair and necessary, given the enormity of the problem, that we all come together to find a solution.”
He mentioned that he encouraged underdeveloped countries in Africa and Latin America to exert pressure on recently prosperous and high-polluting nations to contribute to the fund. “I am feeling more positive about addressing loss and damage than I was a few weeks ago,” he stated. It has been reported that the UAE is contemplating giving a donation. However, the majority of donor nations are adamant that contributions should be voluntary, not dependent on their wealth or greenhouse gas emissions.
Additional sources of funding for the fund designated for loss and damage may include possible fees for frequent travelers and on global maritime trade, as well as unexpected taxes on the profits of fossil fuel corporations.
Former UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, proposed implementing a modest tax on the earnings of petrostates as a potential solution for generating a significant portion of necessary funds.
Former Shell employee Hoekstra, who previously held the position of foreign minister in the Netherlands, was chosen as the EU’s commissioner for climate action in October. This appointment came after Frans Timmermans, the vice-president of the European Commission, resigned in August to run in the Dutch general election. However, Hoekstra’s left-leaning party placed second, far behind the far-right Geert Wilders whose party now holds the majority in the Dutch parliament.
Timmermans held significant authority at past Cops, often using the potential future struggles of his grandchildren to pressure governments into taking action.
Hoekstra will have a challenging task ahead as he takes over from his predecessor. Right-wing parties are gaining traction in the EU and pushing for anti-environmental policies. Additionally, many member states are becoming less enthusiastic about the EU’s green deal due to the strain of rising living costs. On top of this, global tensions surrounding the Israel-Gaza conflict and the war in Ukraine are also increasing.
“The upcoming Cop28 meeting is a crucial moment for the world, as geopolitical tensions have reached a challenging level,” stated Hoekstra.
The speaker mentioned several sources of tension, including Ukraine and the Middle East, as well as conflicts in the Indo-Pacific and competition between major global powers. There are also concerns within the EU and elsewhere about a resistance towards international organizations, the principles of justice, human rights, and democracy. The speaker believes it is important to stand up against this resistance, as it creates a challenging environment.