As UN Climate Summit Looms, Denmark Becomes First Country to Pay for ‘Loss and Damage’

Flooding in Sylhet, Bangladesh, June 2022.

Flooding in Sylhet, Bangladesh, June 2022. Shutterstock

Denmark is directing more than $13 million to aid countries hard hit by climate change, becoming the first wealthy nation to pay for “loss and damage” from increasingly extreme weather.

“I saw for myself in Bangladesh this spring that the consequences of climate change need increased focus,” Danish development minister Flemming Møller Mortensen said in a statement. “It is grossly unfair that the world’s poorest should suffer the most from the consequences of climate change, to which they have contributed the least.”

The Danish pledge includes more than $5 million to support developing countries coping with climate-related losses, particularly those in the arid Sahel region of Africa. Denmark is also putting more than $4 million toward disaster insurance and another $3 million into supporting “strategic efforts” around loss and damage negotiations ahead of this November’s UN climate conference in Egypt.

Loss and damage remains an unresolved issue in UN climate talks, with countries in the Global South urging wealthy nations, historically the biggest emitters, to pay for the rising toll from worsening droughts, floods, and storms. Wealthy countries have largely resisted this pressure, seeking to avoid accepting legal liability for climate change.

Last year, Scotland became the first government to pay for loss and damage, putting nearly $3 million toward helping vulnerable nations cope with climate change. But as part of the U.K., Scotland is not a UN member. Denmark is the first member state to make such a commitment.

On Tuesday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on wealthy nations to tax fossil fuel companies’ windfall profits to pay for loss and damage, saying, “Vulnerable countries need meaningful action. This is a fundamental question of climate justice, international solidarity and trust.”


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