Talks on a global fund for victims of climate change could be delayed after governments missed a deadline to appoint members to a committee taking the issue forward.
At last November’s Cop27 climate summit, governments agreed to set up a fund for vulnerable communities hit by climate disaster – a breakthrough after decades of stalemate. But contentious questions remain.
A 24-member transitional committee is set to deliberate on who pays, who benefits and who oversees how money is spent on the ground, ahead of the next major conference in Dubai.
The deadline for negotiating blocs to nominate committee members was 15 December 2022. As of 31 January, only ten members had been announced.
One source involved in the committee, who did not want to be named, told Climate Home: “This is delaying the process a lot as we have lots of organisational matters that need to be agreed before work can start, and an already crazy international schedule of meetings.”
Another committee source said: “The delay gives a wrong signal that Parties are relaxed and not really assessing the amount of work needed. Official work is expected to start in March but there is a lot of prep that needs to happen before.”
Saleemul Huq, a Bangladeshi climate scientist and veteran of all 27 Cop talks, said the delay was “certainly worrying” and “will leave very little time for the work [the committee] must do before Cop28”.
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According to the Cop27 decision, the committee should have its first meeting by 31 March and at least two more meetings by the end of the year.
The committee is expected to present a detailed proposal at Cop28 in November, spelling out how a fund to compensate victims of climate change would work.
Competition for places
Various regional groupings are entitled to seats on the committee.
African, Latin American and Caribbean, and small island developing states have made their choices, as have the presidencies of Cop27 and Cop28.
Developed countries, which blocked loss and damage talks for decades before relenting last year, were allocated ten members. They have yet to nominate them.
A source with knowledge of their position said that they will announce all these nominations soon after a few formalities have been finished.
The bloc of the world's least developed countries (LDCs), has yet to nominate its two members. Developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region have not nominated their two.
A source with knowledge of developing countries' position told Climate Home that the delay was because nine countries wanted these four spots and were unwilling to back down.
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Madeleine Diouf, chair of the LDC group told Climate Home she expected nominations to be finalised this week.
Harjeet Singh from Climate Action Network International said that "any delay in setting up the institution will stall momentum in providing support to people already facing climate impacts".
Nominations have been made by the African group, the Latin American and Caribbean region, small island developing states, by the United Arab Emirates as Cop28 president and developing states not included in other categories.
The Latin American and Caribbean region has split its three members between six individuals. The first three will hand over to the next three at the end of June.
A spokesperson for the UN climate change division said: "We are planning to hold the transitional committee meeting as mandated by end of March. All groups are actively working on finalizing their nominations and we expect a full set of nominations this month."
This article was updated on 10 February to add a comment from a committee source