Denmark Becomes First Wealthy Country to Pay for ‘Loss and Damage’ From Extreme Weather

United Nations and Danish national flags together with the flag of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009
United Nations and Danish national flags together with the flag of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009. ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP via Getty Images
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Denmark has become the first high-income country to pledge to pay for “loss and damage” in other countries affected by increasing cases of extreme weather events. More than 100 million DKK ($13 million) is being sent to impacted countries.

The funds are part of Denmark’s Finance Act 2022, and the country has a target to direct at least 60% of its climate funds to help other countries adapt to climate change. Over $5 million will go to countries impacted by climate change, including the Sahel region in Africa. Yale Environment 360 reported that another $4 million will go toward disaster insurance, and $3 million is reserved for strategies on “loss and damage” negotiations ahead of the upcoming United Nations COP27 in Egypt this November.

“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,” Denmark’s Development Minister Flemming Møller Mortensen said in a statement.

Loss and damage is an ongoing topic at the annual UN climate conferences, as high-income countries avoid financial responsibility for climate change and the disasters it causes, particularly in lower income nations.

“Many of the world’s poorest countries are hit hard by climate change, which the rich countries in particular have created,” Daniel Toft Jakobsen, politician of the Social Democrat party in Denmark, said in a statement. “Denmark must take the lead and contribute to the green transition around the world. But to that extent we also have a responsibility to help with climate adaptation and cover climate-related losses and damages, and I am happy that this package focuses on just that.”

While Scotland did dedicate nearly $3 million toward helping with climate adaptation and damage restoration in affected countries at COP26 last year, it is part of the UK and not a member of the UN. The symbolic move was meant to inspire other wealthy countries to make progress on loss and damage discussions.

At the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on industrialized nations to tax windfall profits of fossil fuel companies, and then redirect the funds to countries suffering from climate-related loss and damage and to relieve people from high food and energy prices.

“It is high time to move beyond endless discussions. Vulnerable countries need meaningful action,” Guterres said. “This is a fundamental question of climate justice, international solidarity and trust.”

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