My thoughts on Loss and Damage

When comes to climate change, not every impact can be minimised or avoided through reduction of GHGs emissions (mitigation) or proper planning and adjustment (adaptation). Some adverse effects have already reached to a point where there isn’t any turning back, which would affect all 3 dimensions – the past, the current and the future. Thus, the word “Loss and Damage” (abbreviation: L&D).

Debris lines the streets of Tacloban, Leyte island. This region was the worst affected by the typhoon, causing widespread damage and loss of life. Caritas is responding by distributing food, shelter, hygiene kits and cooking utensils. (Photo: Eoghan Rice - Trócaire / Caritas)

Debris lines the streets of Tacloban, Leyte island. This region was the worst affected by the typhoon, causing widespread damage and loss of life. Caritas is responding by distributing food, shelter, hygiene kits and cooking utensils. (Photo: Eoghan Rice – Trócaire / Caritas)

Let me give you a glimpse of what is L&D before providing my views on it.

Long story short, the idea of L&D was brought forward during COP16, as part of the Cancun Adaptation Framework to address L&D associated with climate change impacts in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.

3 years later in COP19, The Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM) associated with Climate Change Impacts was established as the main vehicle under the Convention to promote the implementation of approaches.

Although it has been a formal agenda in UNFCCC back then, it was not until COP21 that WIM got fully institutionalised and L&D finally contained some “meat”. The Paris Agreement dedicated an entire article (Article 8) to L&D. However, there was no “skeleton” on the liability and compensation for loss and damage since it was a ‘red line’ for industrialised countries.

COP19 and The Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM)

COP19 and The Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM)

L&D is a fairly ambiguous principle that involves multifaceted dimensions such as legislature, politics and ethics. Developing countries, especially those vulnerable to the effect of climate change, have been highlighting the importance of equity and the need of compensation. In contrast, developed countries are trying to limit discussion on liability, compensation, framing loss and damage as a matter of adaptation/ risk reduction and insurance.

Even in the ongoing conference, which is framed as a Pacific COP, L&D should have gotten a considerable amount of limelight. Developed countries seem to skip out on it and feel that the current timeframe isn’t suitable for discussing on this matter. Thus, generating finances and capital for WIM persists to be indisposed. Instead, they prioritise risk financing during the negotiation table, in other words, INSURANCE.

InsuResilience , basically the insurance for L&D, is an international initiative aimed at providing insurance to 400 more million poor and vulnerable people by 2020. And now they get more funding and partnership by bringing together the G20 countries in partnership with the Vulnerable 20 (V20) nations. (Maybe private sector?!)

PLEASE DON’T BRING THE BAD BOY FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY IN

PLEASE DON’T BRING THE BAD BOY FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY IN

Insurance is not something as easy as choosing a meal by looking at the menu. Even I occasionally take time on selecting my food, having a range of options. (#FirstWoldProblem). It’s just an assumption that poor people are going to pay for climate insurance when most of them still need to worry on what to eat for the next day. Without proper knowledge on this kind of climate risk scheme, it’s not really as reliable as we what we think it is as some losses may not be insured.

Besides, the issue of L&D also bring concerns to the developed countries, especially those wealthy countries that highly depend on Oil and Gas industries. There is a saying that high recognition of L&D will lead to more litigation (lawsuit) and this will create obligation for the developed countries to compensate more in the future. Furthermore, I’ve also heard that they want to include insurance as a pre-2020 action.

What I hope to see in COP23 is to have a robust financial mechanism. Once we have an appropriate quantitative and qualitative mechanism, the money would eventually find its way. Regarding finance, it’s advisable to seek on equitable and innovative sources that are able to meet CBDR-RC’s principles, or In laymen terms, PLEASE DON’T BRING THE BAD BOY FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY IN.

Written by Thomas

Edited by Varun

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