Austria has joined a small but growing list of wealthy nations committing funds for loss and damages wrought by climate disasters in the developing world, pledging 50 million euros over the next four years.
“The most vulnerable countries in the Global South are suffering particularly badly from the consequences of the climate crisis — and are rightly demanding more support from industrialized countries,” Austrian climate minister Leonore Gewessler told Reuters. “Austria is taking responsibility.”
Rich nations, which bear the brunt of responsibility for warming the atmosphere, have long resisted making such payments, seeking to avoid assuming legal liability for their contributions to climate change. But at the UN climate negotiations now underway in Egypt, they have agreed to discuss compensating poor nations for climate-related damages.
A small number of countries are also putting forward money to pay for “loss and damage” from climate change, including Belgium (2.5 million euros), Denmark (more than 13 million euros), and Germany (170 million euros). Last year, Scotland became the first wealthy government to tackle “loss and damage,” pledging 2 million pounds. This week, it put forward another 5 million pounds. Austria’s 50-million-euro pledge is the latest such commitment.
The millions promised thus far fall well short of the billions in losses already inflicted by extreme weather. The recent floods in Pakistan caused up to $40 billion in damages, officials estimate. But the commitments earned praise from some climate campaigners.
“We welcome the pledges from Austria and Scotland to fund the most vulnerable nations’ responses to unavoidable climate impacts,” Agnes Hall, global campaigns director at 350.org, said in a statement. “As Europeans we have a historic responsibility to provide support and solidarity.”