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Loss and damage

'Profound responsibility on our shoulders': Taoiseach pledges €25 million to climate damage fund

Leo Varadkar has told the World Climate Action Summit at COP28 that countries must “rise to the challenge” of the climate crisis.

LAST UPDATE | Dec 2nd 2023, 9:32 AM

IMG_0932 Lauren Boland / The Journal Lauren Boland / The Journal / The Journal

THE TAOISEACH HAS announced that Ireland will contribute €25 million to a new Loss and Damage Fund born out of COP28 – though the money will come from finance already allocated to climate aid.

The adoption of the fund was one of the first decisions to come out of the COP, which began yesterday, and follows months of deliberations about where the money would come from and who it would go to.

Countries agreed to set up the fund on the opening day of the conference to enable developed nations to make contributions that will help more vulnerable countries to deal with the impacts of the climate crisis that they are already suffering.

The Irish government has already pledged to contribute €225 million to international climate finance each year.

Addressing other leaders at the conference today while delivering Ireland’s national statement, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “There is a profound responsibility on our shoulders. Never before have the alarm bells been ringing so loudly. We must rise to this challenge.”

He said countries “must do everything in our power to make the transition just, protecting the vulnerable and leaving nobody behind”.

We need to do a better job explaining the benefits: a liveable planet, cleaner air, new jobs and economic opportunities; a more secure world, with less conflict over resources, more reliable energy, fewer people on the move from homes that can no longer support them.

“Ireland is a wealthy country. Even so, we are struggling to make as much progress as needed. We are constantly looking at ways to improve.”

He said he is “conscious of the even greater challenges others face, particularly Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States” and that “the Loss and Damage fund must begin disbursing finance as soon as possible”.

“Ireland will double our climate finance to at least €225 million per year by 2025, and this year, we will spend close to €150 million.

“Today, I am announcing a contribution of €25 million to the new Loss and Damage Fund for 2024 and 2025. We will make further contributions thereafter.”

The Taoiseach has told Irish reporters at COP28 that the loss and damage pledge would be counted towards Ireland’s existing climate finance commitment.&

Reacting to the contribution, Christian Aid Ireland’s Policy and Advocacy officer Ross Fitzpatrick said it was important that Ireland pledged to contribute fund but “extremely regrettable to see it come from existing climate finance commitments”, instead of being the “new and additional funding urgently needed by countries on the climate crisis frontline to help them recover and rebuild in the aftermath of climate disasters”.

He said Ireland must contribute much more over the coming years to help to ensure these countries are not left “picking up the tab for the unavoidable and irreversible impacts of a climate crisis not of their making” and that “Ireland and indeed all wealthy, historically high polluting countries, must now urgently provide detailed, timebound plans on how they will raise the revenue needed for the loss and damage fund”.

A report published by Christian Aid Ireland and Trócaire earlier this month estimated that Ireland’s fair share of contributions to loss and damage finance will be at least €1.5 billion per year by 2030. 

Speaking about concerns at home, Varadkar said in his speech that “in mobilising our societies, we must recognise our people’s concerns and bring people with us – our farmers, our workers, our enterprises, our people”.

“With the cost-of-living and high energy prices, many worry about how much the transition will cost and what it will mean for their jobs and incomes and living standards,” he said.

“Those are legitimate concerns. We need to understand where people are coming from and offer reassurance. Change is difficult, but we must do everything in our power to make the transition just, protecting the vulnerable and leaving nobody behind.”

Many other countries have also come out with pledges to the loss and damage fund over the last three days.

The United Arab Emirates and Germany were the first with pledges of $100 million (€91.8 million) each, with Italy later promising the same.

The UK announced a contribution of $50.6 million (€46.5 million); the US came in at $17.5 million (€16 million) – attracting criticism for not reaching deeper into its pockets, given the scale of both its emissions and its economy; and Japan pledged $10 million (€9.2 million). Norway this morning pledged $25 million (€23 million).

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