Dubai dispatch: Pacific views on Loss and Damage

Reverend James Bhagwan at COP28

Sera Tikotikovatu-Sefeti reports from COP28

“If you are not making any moves on climate mitigation, on reducing or phasing out fossil fuel then this is just blood money.”

This is the view of General Secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches, Reverend James Bhagwan in response to the decision of leaders at COP28 to operationalise a new Loss and Damage Fund. Individual country pledges of US$400million have been made to the Fund at the Dubai meeting, with further pledges anticipated.

Reverend Bhagwan reiterated that the Pacific’s ‘red line’ is limiting temperature increases to 1.5 degrees (as per the Paris agreement), but if big emitters are supporting the Loss and Damage fund without taking any steps to phase out fossil fuel, then all they are doing is paying compensation. 

“We are running out of time” Reverend Bhagwan says, adding that this is why the Pacific is pushing for a fossil fuel non proliferation treaty.

Australia’s climate change ambassador says the federal government cannot back the Pacific’s call to completely phase out fossil fuel. Australia wants to cohost the COP31 summit alongside the Pacific and getting the support of Pacific Island nations will be critical to the success of their bid.

The PCC’s concerns are shared by the Pacific Island Climate Action Network (PICAN) Regional Director, Lavetanalagi Seru who says: “these fossil fuel producing countries are not slowing down, when we look closer to home in countries like Australia since the new government taking office, they have been approving several fossil fuel projects, and there are a number in a pipeline, pending approval, and New Zealand has just announced that they are looking to open offshore drilling which is problematic.”

Speaking at COP28, Seru says, “Developing countries have had to fight an uphill battle to secure this fund at COP27” and describes it as justice delayed, as the “cost of ‘loss and damage’ worldwide is in the billions of dollars ,rather than the millions that were pledged”.