BONN – Environmental campaigners called Wednesday for fossil fuel producers to contribute to a new fund intended to help poor countries cope with climate disasters.
The so-called loss and damage fund was a key achievement of last year's U.N. climate summit in Egypt. Developing nations have long demanded more financial support for the impacts from global warming, which is historically driven by pollution from rich countries.
“It is the prime responsibility for countries to fill that fund, particularly those with the greatest historic responsibility,” said Rebecca Newsom, of the environmental group Greenpeace.
“But in order to fill that fund at scale now, we need to really ramp things up,” she said. “The most obvious starting point is, of course, the fossil fuel industry, the creators of the crisis that we are now facing.”
Oil, gas and coal firms have faced mounting criticism in recent years for continuing to extract fuels that, when burned, release planet-warming greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres called earlier this year for fossil fuel companies to be held to account for the damage they caused despite knowing about the harmful effects of their products.
Negotiations on setting up the loss and damage fund are a main focus of international climate talks taking place in Bonn, Germany, this week. Some countries have pushed back against the idea of getting Big Oil to chip in from the start.
Mohamed Nasr, Egypt's lead negotiator, said there was a risk of “overloading the very delicate and, I would say, very sensitive discussion that is happening” before this fall's U.N. summit in Dubai.
While Nasr said he wasn't opposed to contributions from the fossil fuel or aviation industry, these could be difficult to implement and the main focus should be on rich nations.
But Newsom, of Greenpeace, contrasted the recent surge in oil company profits with the rising damage expected worldwide from climate change.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to join the dots between growing climate loss and damage around the world and exorbitant fossil fuel company profits,” she said.