By Adelle Thomas and Charra Tesfaye Terfassa
The financing of loss and damage is finally an agenda item at COP27 but with climate impacts intensifying Adelle Thomas from Climate Analytics and Charra Tesfaye Terfassa, from E3G say vulnerable countries can no longer wait for funding to be delivered.
The world is witnessing unprecedented levels of climate change induced losses and damages in different countries from all corners. Extreme temperatures devastating floods, and deadly droughts are currently causing and worsening losses and damages most of which are felt in developing countries. These countries are left with the burden of addressing losses from climate impacts without the appropriate level of support from countries that are more able and culpable for the challenging climate.
At COP26 in Glasgow last year countries made progress by creating a space for considering the financing arrangements for loss and damage in what was dubbed the Glasgow dialogues.
This year at COP27 the financing of loss and damage may finally be on the agenda -this is a step towards elevating L&D as the third pillar of climate action – along with mitigation and adaptation. This
However this has been a long time coming. In Glasgow compromises made at the time mean that the dialogues were designed as a place to talk about the issue but not necessarily achieve anything significant. Following on from this at UN climate talks in Bonn in June developing countries expressed their disappointment that despite discussions they did not believe that financing would reach countries that urgently need it..
COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh presents another opportunity to tackle the challenge of loss and damage. However, for this COP to make a difference, the conversation needs to shift from the old political squabbles around liability and compensation – and instead move towards a functional approach for the allocation of funds to address actual losses and damages. Vulnerable countries are requesting new and additional financing as well as a dedicated fund, focused on addressing loss and damage. Currently, none of the funds under the UNFCCC have a specific mandate to provide finance for this.. Existing funds, such as the Global Climate Fund (GCF), Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Adaptation Fund are focused on mitigation and adaptation. While these contribute to averting and minimising loss and damage, they do not address the losses and damages that are actually incurred.
It is incredibly significant that L&D is on the agenda for COP27, something developing countries have been advocating for for decades.However, it is clear that talks on the issue are not keeping pace with the reality of today’s climate impacts. Separately negotiations have to progress to agree on the form and purpose of the dedicated financing, institutional arrangements, relationship with other bodies within and outside the UNFCCC, the source and magnitude of funding and other challenging details.
Developed countries that have historically contributed the most to climate change are the ones who need to step up and deliver on finance and support to address L&D. Additionally, fossil fuel companies, who for decades have been aware of the negative implications of their actions, must also be held accountable for impacts that are now manifesting. The science is incredibly clear that the L&D we are seeing now is due to these emissions and it is equally clear that those responsible for these emissions are also responsible for addressing them. The EU, USA and Canada are at the forefront of countries that need to deliver,
Developed countries have tried to deflect their duties by pointing to their support for developing countries through humanitarian aid and disaster relief following extreme weather events. This support is fragmented and does not match the magnitude of damages and losses incurred by developing countries. There is an urgent needfor a multilaterally agreed outcome on L&D financing within the UNFCCC. The fear that developed countries have about being entrapped into claims for compensation should not override the need to address loss and damage as an existential concern for the most climate vulnerable countries.
Progress on L&D finance needs to happen urgently, this is long overdue.. The burden and costs of addressing L&D has been placed on vulnerable countries while those responsible have been able to shirk their responsibilities.. Given the increasing intensity of climate hazards s the pace of negotiations to date is far from sufficient. Time has run out for prolonged discussions and politically based commitments that are not met, such as the $100Billion goal
We need to see agreement for a L&D fund at COP27 followed very shortly by operationalization of the fund and full financial support. Time has simply run out to continue operating in the old, slow, business as usual manner that the UNFCCC is accustomed to. To address the climate crisis, we need urgent, ambitious and new modalities of action, including establishment of a new L&D fund that is fit for purpose to address L&D in developing countries.