The first day of COP28 started with a historic decision to establish a Loss and Damage Fund to help countries address the irreparable impacts of ongoing climate change on tangible and intangible assets. Loss and Damage negotiations have been ongoing since COP27 in Egypt and the text of today’s decision has been available for weeks; nevertheless, this was the first time the COP has adopted a decision on Day One. It’s a big deal.
Moreover, the establishment of the fund was followed swiftly by pledges from countries to contribute to the fund so it could become operational quickly. UAE pledged $100M US. Germany also pledged $100M US. The UK pledged £60M. The US pledged $17.5M.
Wait. $17.5M? Yes, you read that right, and you’d also be right to wonder, “How can our contribution possibly be so small?” The answer is that Congress has to appropriate the money—and right now, Congress does not have clear direction from the voters.
According to the just-released survey and report Climate Change in the American Mind, the Yale Climate Communications program found that 40% of registered voters support the U.S. contributing to an international “loss and damage fund” to provide financial assistance to low-income countries that are most harmed by global warming and least responsible for causing it, compared to 34% who oppose the U.S. paying into the fund.
Significantly, an additional 26% of registered voters neither support nor oppose contributing to the Loss & Damage fund.
U.S. faith communities are well-positioned to communicate about climate issues with their members and neighbors. Moreover, denominations and congregations often financially support activities associated with loss and damage—like disaster response.
It is in the U.S.’ best interests to contribute generously to the newly created Loss and Damage fund, politically and financially—and it’s aligned with our widely shared values of caring for our neighbors. Loss and Damage are already driving political destabilization; public health emergencies; and loss of trade and supply chain disruption. And inescapably, these impacts are driving global migration, including the surge in migrants coming across the US-Mexico border.