COP27. What is ‘loss and damage’, the key issue at the climate summit?
Aftab Khan felt helpless as the flood waters receded One third of Pakistanhis native country.
Khan’s hometown was completely under water. A friend of his rescued a woman who had walked barefoot through 15 miles of stagnant floodwaters while carrying her sick child. And Khan’s mother, who now lives with him in Islamabad, was unable to drive home through the flooded roads to check if her daughter was safe.
“These are heartbreaking stories, true stories,” Khan, an international climate change consultant, told CNN. “I was heartbroken.”
Pakistan this year became the clearest example of why some countries are fighting for the so-called loss and damage fund. The concept is that countries that have contributed the most to climate change through their planet-warming emissions should pay poorer countries to recover from the resulting disasters.
Earlier this year, Pakistan was cooking under a deadly heat wave caused by climate change 30 times more likely, according to the World Meteorological Organization. Now it is reeling from its consequences the worst floods in living memory.
The South Asian country is responsible Less than 1% of the world’s planet-warming emissions, but it’s paying a heavy price. And there are many other similar countries around the world.
Loss and damage will be the center stage of COP27 In Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt this year, as low-emitting countries are inundated with floods or watch their islands sink into the ocean, they are demanding that developed, high-emitting countries pay for the damage.
But it happened controversial issue For years, wealthy countries like the United States have feared that settling with the loss-and-damage fund could open up their legal liability and potential future lawsuits.
Climate activists in developing countries and a former top US climate official told CNN that time is running out, pointing to Pakistan’s cascading disasters as the strongest evidence why a special loss and damage fund is needed.
The developing world is “unprepared to protect itself and to adapt and withstand” climate disasters, Former White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy He told CNN. “It is the responsibility of the developed world to support these efforts. Obligations have been made, but they are not being fulfilled.”
As a concept, loss and damage is the idea that rich countries that have emitted the most global warming gases should pay for poorer countries that are now suffering from climate disasters they did not create.
Loss and damage is not a new issue. Developing countries and small island states have been pushing for such measures since 1991, when the Pacific island of Vanuatu first proposed a plan for countries with high emissions to channel money to countries affected by sea level rise.
It took more than a decade for the proposal to gain momentum, even as most of Vanuatu and other small Pacific islands slowly disappear.
In Fiji, climate activist Lavetanalagi Seru’s home island, more than $1 billion has been spent to relocate families. Leaving ancestral lands is not an easy decision, but climate change is happening irreversible effects on the islands, said Seru, regional policy coordinator for the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network.
“Climate change threatens the social fabric of our Pacific communities,” Seru said. “This is the reason why these funds are required. This is a matter of justice for small island developing countries and countries like those in the Pacific.”
The main reason this type of fund is controversial is that rich countries are concerned that paying for such a fund could be seen as an admission of responsibility, which could lead to legal battles. Developed countries like the US have pushed back on this in the past and are still reeling from the issue.
Khan said he understood why rich developed countries were “dragging their feet”. But he added that it was “very important for them to be empathetic and take responsibility”.
There has also been confusion over its definition, whether loss and damage is a form of liability, compensation or even compensation.
“‘Offsets’ is not a word or a term that has been used in this context,” US climate envoy John Kerry said on a recent call with reporters. “We have always said that it is imperative for the developed world to help the developing world cope with climate impacts.”
Kerry has committed to a fund conversation this year before the 2024 deadline to determine what such a fund would look like. And US officials still have questions about whether it will come from an existing source of funding, such as the Green Climate Fund, or from an entirely new source.
Kerry also sparked some controversy on the topic The New York Times latest eventwhen asked about losses and damages, Kerry seemed to suggest that no country has enough money to help places like Pakistan after devastating climate disasters.
“You tell me a world government that has trillions of dollars because it’s worth it,” Kerry said at the event.
But others say the money is there. It is more a matter of priorities.
“Look at the annual defense budget of developed countries. We can mobilize the money,” Alden Meyer, senior partner at E3G, told CNN. “It’s not about money. It is a matter of political will.”
The biggest debate at COP27 will be whether to create a special financial mechanism for losses and damages, in addition to existing climate finance, designed to help countries adapt to climate change and transition to clean energy.
After climate-ravaged countries called for a new facility to finance losses and damages last year at COP26 in Glasgow, it is likely to be on the official agenda of COP27 this year. But even when wealthier countries like the US and EU countries have committed to talking about it, there is little hope that countries will come out of Sharm by agreeing on a fund.
“Do we expect to have a fund by the end of two weeks?” I hope I would, but we’ll see how the parties do it,” Egyptian Ambassador Mohamed Nasr, the country’s chief climate negotiator, told reporters recently.
But Nasr also played down expectations, saying that while countries are still haggling over whether to put losses and damages on the agenda, they are unlikely to make a breakthrough on the financing mechanism.
He said it was more likely that talk of losses and damages would continue during the two weeks of Sharmeli, perhaps putting an end to the framework for the funding mechanism, or clarity on whether the funds could come from new or existing sources.
Some officials from climate-vulnerable countries have warned that if countries fail to agree now, the problem will get much worse later.
“For countries that aren’t on the front lines, they think it’s kind of a distraction and that people should focus on mitigation,” Avinash Persaud, special representative to Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, told CNN. “If we had done the mitigation early enough, we wouldn’t have had to adapt, and if we had adapted early enough, we wouldn’t have had the loss. But we didn’t do those things.”
#COP27 #loss #damage #key #issue #climate #summit