Press Release
ANEEJ Welcomes Loss and Damage Funds, Pope’s Call to end fossil fuel

ANEEJ Welcomes Loss and Damage Funds, Pope’s Call to end fossil fuel

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates. December 6, 2023… The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) has welcomed an agreement at the ongoing COP 28 summit on a loss and damage fund with nations pleading over $725million on the first day which is a vital step but still inadequate for the quantum of what is needed, even as we welcome the message of the catholic pontiff, Pope Francis to the summit, calling on world leaders to end fossil fuel.

The Deputy Executive Director of ANEEJ, Mr. Leo Atakpu who is in Dubai for the two-week summit while welcoming the operationalization of the Loss and Damage funds at the opening of COP28 noted some studies have estimated that loss and damage in developing countries is already greater than $400bn a year and is expected to grow.

“We are deeply concerned that contributions from high polluting countries will be voluntary and we wonder when the fund will pay out and how it will be sustained over the long term. Bayelsa State of Nigeria alone requires $12billion in loss and damage. Delta State requires a much higher amount. We are also worried that the fund will be administered, initially, by the World Bank against the wishes of many developing countries as we expect such funds to be disbursed as grants and not loans.

It would be recalled that the agreement for the loss and damage funds on the first day of the climate talks (30 November) in Dubai was greeted with a standing ovation from delegates. The fund aims to support the most vulnerable and poorest countries to keep up with the rising costs associated with the climate crisis. Host country UAE and Germany both pledged $100m (£79m) to the loss and damage startup fund, which will aim to keep up with the rising costs caused by extreme weather and slow-onset disasters such as sea level rise, ocean acidification and melting glaciers.

The ANEEJ Deputy Director also hailed the call by Pope Francis for lending his his weight behind calls for an end to fossil fuels in a message delivered here at COP28. In a wide-ranging statement, Pope Francis called for an end to coal, oil and gas as well as lifestyle changes to save the planet. He also asked for debt forgiveness for poorer countries hit by climate change.

“We are particularly happy that the Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis has lent his voice to the calls for a need to urgently phase out fossil fuels given that we have had to get the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Board of the Church of England Pension’s Board to stop lending its moral and financial support to Shell, an oil company that have polluted and degraded the Niger Delta environment alongside other multinational oil companies. We want the big emitters, USA, China, Canada, Germany, Russia, Japan, India and Indonesia to save the planet by taking urgent steps to cut their carbon emissions” Leo Atakpu demanded.

“The issue of debt cancellation for poor countries as raised by the Catholic head is quite important for the world to be able to meet the global climate target as agreed in Paris COP21 as many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Nigeria are reeling under the yoke of debt burdens. Debt cancellation for such countries is an imperative to achieving net zero,”Atakpu stated.

“As a Nigerian, it was also heartwarming to see President Ahmed Bola Tinubu calling on industrialized nations to invest in alternative energy sources in Nigeria and Africa since Africa which contributes the least to carbon emissions is at the worst hit at a Panel hosted by the COP 28 presidency and the President of the United Arab Emirates, His Highness, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

“President Tinubu’s emphasis on the need for risk management is vital for Africa’s full and swift transition to cleaner energy sources as, according to the President,  Africa must not become a victim of  the disruptions that come with climate change mitigation measures is quite significant,” Atakpu noted.

The ANEEJ Deputy Chief further stated that “another significant milestone achieved is the COP28 Presidency, in partnership with the World Health Organization and UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention, unveiling of the ‘COP28 UAE Declaration on Climate and Health’ to place health at the heart of climate action and accelerate the development of climate-resilient, sustainable and equitable health systems.”

A set of new finance commitments on climate and health was announced to back up these political commitments, including a USD 300 million commitment by the Global Fund to prepare health systems, USD 100 million by the Rockefeller Foundation to scale up climate and health solutions, and an announcement by the UK Government of up to GBP 54 million. “This is quite remarkable, Leo Atakpu noted.

COP is the primary decision-making body of The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), established in 1992.

Representatives of 197 countries who have signed or are “parties” to the UNFCCC will participate primarily through debates and negotiations

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