Shortfalls and recommendations for Canada’s role on the global stage 

By Sarah Greene, Balsillie School of International Affairs.

The first day of COP28 in Dubai picked up where COP27 in Egypt left off – with the formal establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund on November 30th, 2023. At COP27, governments agreed to launch a new fund to support particularly vulnerable developing countries in addressing loss and damage from climate change.  

Regarding the historic rise in greenhouse gas emissions and the climate impacts, not all countries are equally responsible. One of the biggest injustices of the climate crisis is that those most vulnerable and the poorest, who have done the least to contribute to the problem, are disproportionately impacted. To help address this, several multilateral funds were created which aimed to pool funds from contributing states and offer support to help impacted countries to address climate change impacts and curb their own greenhouse gas emissions.  

The operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund at COP28 is an important win for addressing the disproportionate climate impacts Least Developed Countries (LDCs) face because of increasing weather events and their severity, rising sea, pollution levels, health, and economic externalities of a rapidly changing world, etc.  

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I had the opportunity to meet with an inspiring group of lead negotiators, ministers, and lawyers from over nine LDCs to better understand their climate priorities at COP28. Speaking with representatives from countries such as Sudan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Uganda, Timor-Leste, and India, the message for those developing states with the longest and biggest historical carbon debt was clear – “bring the money”.  

Over the last two decades, LDCs have been trying to establish such a fund that addresses these questions, and the feeling in the room was excitement and hopefulness; it was finally, after all their efforts, coming to fruition. However, as we talked, concerns over the operationalization of the fund were constant. Concerns included the amount of money being committed on a defined timeline, who would get what and when, how it can be and will be equitably managed, and who will be the governing body that manages these aspects.  

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While at COP28, representatives from all over the world pushed to fill the Loss and Damage Fund with the $400 billion USD it will require annually to meet the needs of developing countries. During our chat, I heard about the various efforts underway to pressure rich, developed countries to rebuild trust with the developing world after a track record of failing to deliver on annual contributions for adaptation efforts. With pledges to the fund only reaching $655.9 million USD at the end of COP28, and not the hundreds of billions per year necessary to reach the scale required to address the growing needs of developing countries; developed countries need to provide greater financial assistance and fast.  

During my conversations with LDC, Canada was applauded for its leadership in constructively responding to the growing need to address loss and damages and helping implement a global financial goal to meet this need by calling on contributors to deliver on their respective pledges. While supportive in words, Canada (though one of the first countries to pledge money to the fund) committed $16 million CAD ($11.8 million USD). Though still a welcomed contribution, Canada must drastically enhance its support to live up to its reputation by LDCs as a true climate leader in the loss and damage forum and help meet their growing needs. In 2023, Canada provided over $10 billion to the oil and gas companies fueling the climate crisis and causing global loss and damage despite declaring record profits. Canada must address this disproportionate allocation of finances, through helping guide the worldwide conversation and commitments to Loss and Damage, guided by principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities by addressing its own financial paradox.  

Find out more about our COP28 delegations here.