South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks during a plenary session at the COP28 U.N. Climate Summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Dec. 1, 2023. (Courtesy photo)
South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks during a plenary session at the COP28 U.N. Climate Summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Dec. 1, 2023. (Courtesy photo)

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday urged world leaders gathered for the COP28 in Dubai to do more for vulnerable countries that disproportionately bear the impact of the climate crisis.

“African countries are among the most vulnerable to the effects of a rapidly changing climate and have to adapt and build resilience within the context of historically low levels of development and severely limited capacity,” Ramaphosa said.

Historically, industrialized nations have spewed out the most carbon emissions that are trapping heat in the atmosphere.

Ramaphosa, who spoke on the second day of international climate talks, was among more than 170 world leaders who addressed the United Nations climate conference in Dubai.

On the first day of the climate conference, nearly all nations finalized the creation of a fund to compensate countries struggling to cope with loss and damage caused by climate change.

Sultan al-Jaber, the president of the COP28 climate conference in Dubai, said on Thursday (Nov 30) that $420 million were committed in the first hour of the announcement.

Ramaphosa welcomed the move but called for scaled-up grant finance.

“There can be no substitute for new, predictable, at scale and appropriate public finance to support and help developing economy countries build climate resilience. After all, many of them were not even responsible for the damage to the climate as we see it now.”

The total committed so far is a little over $576 million, according to a tally by the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group.

Campaigners said the U.S. offering was woefully inadequate from the world’s biggest historical polluter. Bineshi Albert of the Climate Justice Alliance called it “insulting.”

“It is a paltry, shameful amount of money that shows the U.S. is completely uninterested in prioritizing or being accountable to the climate impacts frontline communities are facing,” she said.

The United States has pledged $17.5 million. However, the leaders of the two biggest carbon-polluting nations 鈥 responsible for more than 44% of the world’s emissions 鈥 were not there to get the in-person message. U.S. President Joe Biden and China’s President Xi Jinping are sitting out this COP, just weeks after announcing a bilateral agreement to help cut down on methane emissions.

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