(Adds German pledge, comment YES, detail on Belgian funding)
By Kate Abnett and Virginia Furness
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt, Nov. 7 (Reuters) –
Germany and Belgium joined a small number of rich countries on Monday to allocate funding to help developing countries facing damage and losses caused by climate change, pledging €170 million and €2.5 million respectively.
While the funds were relatively small in size, the funds were symbolically important as they were announced as more than 100 leaders gather in Egypt for the UN’s COP27 climate summit – where the urgent need for funding to support developing countries facing disasters caused by climate change will dominate the discussions .
Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany would provide 170 million euros for a “Global Shield” by the Group of Seven Rich Countries for the V20 group of 58 vulnerable countries, aimed at strengthening insurance and financing in the event of disasters.
“We will also provide targeted support to the countries hardest hit by climate change in coping with loss and damage,” Scholz said at the COP27 summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Belgium pledged to allocate 2.5 million euros to fight “loss and damage” from climate change from a new package of 25 million euros in climate-related support for the South African country of Mozambique from 2023 to 2028.
The Belgian government said its funding would focus on preventing and limiting loss and damage, for example by mapping areas vulnerable to storm surges and rolling out early warning systems.
Financing loss and damage is less politically controversial than explicit offers of compensation for climate-related losses after disasters strike — what could be seen as rich countries paying reparations for causing climate change.
“There is, I think, a moral obligation to call it what it is,” said Matthew Samuda, a minister in the Jamaican ministry of economic growth, of the link between loss and damage financing and historical responsibility.
“But beyond that, there is also the practical need to access funds,” said Samuda.
Previously, only Scotland and Denmark had committed funding for climate-related losses and damage, as did the Belgian region of Wallonia.
The United States and the European Union have blocked previous efforts by poor countries to secure financing for loss and damage, fearing to acknowledge liability for their historic contribution to the greenhouse gas emissions that warm the planet.
Daniel Ribeiro of Mozambican environmental organization Justiça Ambiental said Belgium’s pledge was “a single act floating in a sea of passivity across the global north”.
“Mozambique is just one of many countries facing this reality. This time we were the chosen, hand-picked recipients, but what about the broader systemic solution?” he said.
Scholz did not specify what the German funding would cover.
Dozens of developing countries have called for a deal at COP27 on a financing facility where rich countries would provide loss and damage money to vulnerable states.
Mozambique is one of the poorest countries in the world and one of the most vulnerable to extreme weather events.
Cyclone Idai, which hit Mozambique in 2019, caused about $1.4 billion in total damage and $1.39 billion in losses, according to an assessment by the International Labor Organization.
($1 = 0.9977 euros) (Reporting by Kate Abnett and Virginia Furness; editing by Janet Lawrence and Mark Heinrich)