“We have written a page of history today,” said Sultan Al-Jaber, Emirati president of COP28, which, from its opening on Thursday, November 30 in Dubai, enabled the much-awaited realization of a fund to compensate for climate losses and damages in vulnerable countries.

The major international climate conference began in the oil and gas emirate, as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed that 2023 would probably be the hottest year on record.

The decision on the compensation fund, which paves the way for an easing of financial tensions between the North and the South, was greeted with a standing ovation from delegates from the nearly two hundred countries represented. It gives substance to the main result of COP27, which took place last year in Egypt, where the creation of this fund was approved, without the contours of said fund, much debated, having been defined.

“I congratulate the parties on this historic decision. This is a positive signal for the world and for our work (…) The speed with which we did it is unprecedented, phenomenal and historic,” added Sultan Al-Jaber.

Billions or millions?

It remains to be seen how much money will be allocated to this fund, which will temporarily depend on the World Bank, against the initial advice of developing countries. The Emirates and Germany have each pledged 100 million dollars (nearly 92 million euros), Japan 10 million (9.2 million euros), the United States 17.5 million (16 million euros). euros) and the United Kingdom has said it is ready to pay up to 40 million pounds (around 46 million euros).

The European Commission and EU member states have promised a “substantial contribution”, with each due to announce their share on Friday and Saturday. Developed countries are also pushing to broaden the donor base to wealthy emerging nations, such as China and Saudi Arabia.

Madeleine Diouf Sarr, president of the Least Developed Countries group, which represents forty-six nations, welcomed a decision of “enormous significance for climate justice”. “But an empty fund cannot help our citizens,” she stressed, with losses running into hundreds of billions.

“We expect promises in billions [of dollars], not in millions,” added Rachel Cleetus, of the American group Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). “The work is far from finished,” said the Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis). “We will not be at peace until this fund is properly financed and begins to alleviate the burden on vulnerable communities.”

Strip Ombre

Despite this rapid progress on this crucial subject, negotiators will probably have other reasons for division, particularly with regard to the future of fossil fuels, against a backdrop of conflict between Israel and Hamas.

A sign of the omnipresence of the conflict in people’s minds, the president of the previous conference, Sameh Choukri, head of Egyptian diplomacy, asked the delegates, during the opening ceremony, to observe a short moment of silence to “ all civilians killed in the current conflict in Gaza.”

Israeli President Isaac Herzog will also take advantage of his visit to the COP to participate in a series of diplomatic meetings intended to free other hostages held by Hamas, his services said.

More than 97,000 people (delegations, media, NGOs, lobbies, organizers, technicians, etc.) are accredited, twice as many as last year, and around 180 heads of state and government are expected by December 12 , theoretical end of the conference.

Pope Francis, suffering from the flu, canceled his visit, but more than 140 leaders will take the podium on Friday and Saturday, after the ceremonial opening day on Thursday, for speeches lasting a few minutes intended to give political impetus to the Byzantine negotiations which will occupy the delegations for two weeks.

” Results “

At the top of the agenda will be the fate of fossil fuels – coal, gas, oil – whose use is the main cause of global warming and the disasters that accompany it.

Also chief executive of national oil company Adnoc, Sultan Al-Jaber wanted “the role of fossil fuels” to be mentioned in any final agreement.

This while he is under fire from criticism after the publication by the BBC and the Center for Climate Reporting of internal notes preparing official meetings which list arguments for the promotion of Adnoc projects abroad. He rejected the accusations on Wednesday. “The COP president will be judged by his results,” said Jennifer Morgan, Germany’s climate envoy.

Simon Stiell, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), was even more blunt: “If we do not signal the end of the fossil era as we see it, know, we are preparing for our own terminal decline. »

On Friday, it will be the turn of King Charles III to speak at the opening of the summit, which will take place in the absence of the American president, Joe Biden, replaced by his vice-president, Kamala Harris, and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.