US faces criticism for ‘embarrassingly’ small contribution to COP28 climate fund, ‘a drop in the ocean’
The COP28 climate summit fallout as the US faces scrutiny for a meager $17.5m contribution to the damage fund, compared to major donors.
Global delegates at COP28 in Dubai ratified a long-awaited damage fund aimed at aiding nations severely impacted by the climate crisis and carbon emissions. Despite the initial success of securing funds on the summit's first day, the United States is facing criticism for its notably low contribution, igniting disappointment among experts and advocacy groups.
US contributed only $17.5m against $100m by UAE
Several nations promptly pledged funds to the initiative following its formalization. The United Arab Emirates and Germany led with contributions of $100 million each, while the UK pledged £60 million. In contrast, the US committed only $17.5 million, drawing sharp criticism, with experts and groups labeling it as “disappointing” and “embarrassing” considering the size of its economy.
US' notably smaller amount compared to other major donors, drew attention, with experts highlighting political pressures faced by the US delegation, given the dynamics within the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
‘US High on emissions and low on funds’
“The United States, the largest historical contributor of the planet-heating emissions that scientists agree are fueling the climate crisis, has objected to tying loss and damage funding to each wealthy nation's emissions—perhaps partially explaining why the Biden administration pledged only $17.5 million to the fund,” think tank, Common Dreams column questioned.
‘A drop in the ocean compared to the scale of the need’
Mohamed Adow from Power Shift Africa deemed the US contribution insufficient, calling it a mere fraction of what's required to address the pressing needs. Such contributions are “a drop in the ocean compared to the scale of the need they are to address,” Adow said.
"In particular, the amount announced by the U.S. is embarrassing for President [Joe] Biden and [Special Presidential Climate Envoy] John Kerry," Adow added. "It just shows how this must be just the start."
Ani Dasgupta, president & CEO of World Resources Institute, emphasized the fund's significance but expressed concern over the inadequate contributions from the US and Japan.
“The loss and damage fund will be a lifeline to people in their darkest hour, enabling families to rebuild their homes after disaster strikes, support farmers when their crops are wiped out, and relocate those that become permanently displaced by rising seas,” he said.
Reason behind low contribution
Tom Evans of E3G acknowledged the US officials' cautious labeling of the donation as a “climate impacts fund,” possibly to avoid resistance from Congress. He highlighted the challenge of securing approval for such contributions, citing past difficulties faced by the United States in this regard.
Several were also upset over Biden's decision to skip the summit, “Given the US status as the world’s biggest historical emitter of greenhouse gases, Biden’s decision to skip the world leaders’ summit at COP28 in Dubai will invite criticism from the Global South, which has done the least to cause global warming yet is bearing the brunt of its effects,” former diplomat Brahma Chellaney wrote on X.