Delegates refill their water bottles at COP28 Blue Zone at the Expo City Dubai. Sustainability is a key theme at the UN climate conference and delegates were urged to use refillable water bottles. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: The world took a giant leap towards sustaining climate action by providing the finishing touches to create a fund to compensate countries reeling from the catastrophic effects of heatwaves, droughts, floods, and other extreme weather patterns. The breakthrough was achieved on the inaugural day of the Conference of Parties (COP28) in Dubai, with most countries formally approving the arrangements of the Loss and Damage Fund.

Ahead of the UN climate conference, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President of and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai, highlighted the significance of COP28 as it seeks to unify the globe and arrive at practical and ambitious solutions for the most pressing challenge of safeguarding the planet for future generations.

Welcoming more than 70,000 guests from 198 countries to the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed said in his official account on X (former Twitter) platform: “The mission ahead is monumental, and the challenges are big. However, history has always been a testament to the fact that the assembly, collaboration, and unity of humanity remain the greatest enablers of civilisations’ prosperity and enduring progress.”

Why Loss and Damage Fund is historic

Progress was made on the inaugural day through the Loss and Damage Fund, which doubled its target on the first day with $420 million. The UAE pledged $100 million, and more contributions from other countries followed. Germany promised $100 million, the United Kingdom $75.89 million, the United States 17.5 million and Japan $10 million.

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said on social media platform X: “We congratulate all parties on the historic adoption of this fund for climate impact response and announce the UAE commitment of $100 million as our contribution.”

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, who was formally made the president of the COP28, was ecstatic at the formalisation of the fund. “We’ve delivered history today — the first time a decision has been adopted on Day 1 of any COP. And the speed in which we have done is also historic,” he said.

Al Jaber takes over COP presidency

Although work on the Loss and Damage had begun at COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, many details were left unresolved. That makes the launch of the fund in Dubai “an important milestone in delivering for vulnerable communities and building resilience for people suffering the devastating impacts of climate change”.

Earlier, COP27 President Sameh Shoukry handed over the presidency to Al Jaber, who formally took over the gavel to run the COP28 in the UAE. “As Egypt hands over the baton of responsibility for global climate action to the UAE, I am confident that addressing these challenges will be the focus of incoming President Dr Sultan Al Jaber and his able team,” Shoukry said during the Opening Plenary.

Al Jaber urged the delegates at the UN climate conference to adopt an “unconventional approach” and include oil and gas companies in the climate conversation.


“This is the presidency that boldly chose to engage with oil and gas companies. It wasn’t easy. But now, many of these companies are committing to zeroing out methane emissions by 2030 for the first time,” the COP28 president said.

“National oil companies have adopted Net Zero 2050, and I’m glad they have stepped up to this game-changing journey. They [oil and gas companies] can do much more; they can lead the way,” he added.

“We must look for ways to ensure the inclusion of the role of fossil fuels. Strong ideas exist against including language on fossil fuels and renewables in the negotiated text. But we have the power to do something unprecedented. I ask you to work together,” Al Jaber urged the delegates.