British minister optimistic on climate fund host agreement

By Alexander Cornwell

ABU DHABI (Reuters) – Britain’s minister responsible for climate negotiations said on Wednesday he believed countries would be able to reach an agreement on which organisation hosts a fund to assist countries recover and rebuild from climate change-driven damage.

Countries have been deadlocked over the “loss and damage” fund design, with developing and developed nations at odds over key issues: oversight, funding sources and eligibility criteria.

Whether the World Bank should host the fund – a position favoured by the U.S. and developed countries – or whether the United Nations creates a new body to run the fund, as developing countries have urged has been among the most contentious issues.

Developing states argue that housing the fund at the World Bank, whose presidents are appointed by the United States, would give donor countries outsized influence.

“You’ve got issues around where it’s located, I think that can be resolved,” Energy Security and Net Zero Minister Graham Stuart told Reuters in Abu Dhabi following climate talks there.

“We need to make sure that it’s somewhere where we can make it as easy as possible for that money to flow and reach those who need it most,” he said, describing the World Bank “either directly or in a supportive fashion” as being the “best venue”.

“We’re open to discussions with others to understand where and how they think it might be better delivered somewhere else.”

A “transitional committee”, which includes Britain, will meet in Abu Dhabi this weekend to try to reach a compromise and draft a proposal on the fund for adoption at the COP28 summit being held in the United Arab Emirates from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12.

The UAE added the extra meeting after countries were deadlocked over key issues at the close of the fourth round of talks last month.

(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Alison Williams)