Climate talks turn to controversial issue of paying for damage already done

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GLASGOW, Scotland — Climate talks have turned from global declarations to technical skirmishes as negotiators work behind the scenes to address the dangers millions face as a result of the current rising temperatures.

Ministers from nearly 200 countries are trying to reach agreement on issues that were too controversial for grassroots negotiators to resolve last week.

Many of these topics depend on money. And one that quickly emerges as the key to the success of this year’s Conference of the Parties, or COP, is funding the lives, livelihoods and communities that have been lost or damaged by climate change.

“After 30 years of negotiations, these talks have yet to provide meaningful support, especially to climate-vulnerable communities and countries, to be able to cope with the impacts that are already occurring,” said Mohamed Adow, director Energy and Power Shift Africa Climate Change Think Tank.

Talks so far have focused on the goal of limiting warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. But there is no comparable target on how to deal with the inevitable impacts of climate change.

The Paris Agreement established the need for financing for mitigation and adaptation measures. Mitigation covers things like developing clean energy that can help reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels. Adaptation refers to efforts to help countries cope with increased heat and storm damage and crop losses resulting from global warming.

So far, around 75 percent of climate finance is spent on mitigation

Climate-vulnerable countries are pushing to close this gap in Glasgow.

Delays by rich countries in funding mitigation and adaptation measures now mean more money is needed, officials in developing countries say. It also means that many nations are facing a new problem: paying for what climate change has already taken from them.

It is a collection of problems known as loss and damage.

Bodies working to implement different parts of the Paris Agreement yesterday provided an assessment of their progress over the past week.

COP President Alok Sharma acknowledged that the loss and damage would require further negotiations. He called on ministers from Luxembourg and Jamaica to work with the parties to find an outcome they can agree on.

Loss and damage refers to climate impacts that are irreversible and beyond simple adaptation measures. The plight of Pacific Islanders who risk losing their homes and way of life to rising sea levels is a prime example, but so too is human suffering in parts of Africa due to the disappearance of water resources.

Loss and damage has often been lumped together with adaptation, but developing countries on the front lines of warming argue that assimilating the two problems creates competition for insufficient resources to solve fundamentally different problems.

Lia Nicholson, chief negotiator of the Alliance of Small Island States and delegate from Antigua and Barbuda, said in yesterday’s session that the lack of economic aid had “forced the islands into debt. unsustainable way, stopping development and holding us hostage to random acts of charity. “

“The loss and damage must be reflected on the global toll,” she said. “From now on and in the new quantified financial goal. “

Ahmadou Sebory Touré, the chief negotiator for Guinea who spoke on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, called on Glasgow to produce “concrete” action on finance, including separate provisions for adaptation and loss and damage

” Change of mentality “

A series of announcements were posted yesterday on the adaptation. The United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and others have pledged $ 232 million to the Adaptation Fund, a financial instrument to support adaptation efforts. Last week, the Biden administration said it would invest $ 3 billion in adaptation funding by 2024. So far, however, only Scotland has pledged a direct contribution to loss and damage. of $ 1.4 million.

But so far, these countries have resisted the offer of finance for loss and damage.

Much of this stems from the fear of being held accountable and asked to compensate climate-vulnerable countries for some of the irreversible impacts of climate change, Adow said.

During the 2015 climate talks in Paris, the United States introduced a paragraph in the final text of the agreement that removed any demands for reparations and liability from the historic polluters who have contributed the most to global warming. climate.

“They would be delighted to talk about the magnitude of loss and damage and the need to provide support to some of the climate-vulnerable countries that are already suffering from the worst impacts of climate change – without any inclusion of loss and damage financing.” , ”Ado said.

But vulnerable countries are now asking for help, while refraining from demanding compensation. They also hope for progress based on a statement from the High-Ambit Coalition, which includes the United States, which has agreed to provide resources to support vulnerable countries in the face of loss and damage.

Their next step? Define whether the resources include money and whether they can translate this commitment into a final text produced at the end of the Glasgow talks.

“What we need to witness in this COP is a change in mentality,” said Yamide Dagnet, director of climate negotiations at the World Resources Institute. “This fear of compensation and liability no longer works.”

This sentiment was echoed by the Alliance of Small Island States. He calls for a process that would operationalize new finance for loss and damage.

Two years ago, the Santiago Loss and Damage Network was formed to inject extra muscle and money into the climate negotiation process. But the money has been slow to flow. And when available, it often takes the form of commercial loans and often goes to countries considered middle income.

“We have to make a decision on the loss and damage,” said Milagros De Camps, deputy minister for international cooperation at the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of the Environment.

“For us in the Caribbean, we have extreme weather events that happen every year. They were stronger. Our hurricane season this year was unprecedented, ”she added. “So we have to have this working mechanism.”

Sharma, the COP president, set an ambitious timetable for the crucial second week of negotiations, calling for the first drafts of the so-called COP decision to be delivered last night with the aim of reaching consensus on Friday. .

“My priority now is the rhythm,” he said yesterday. “The science is clear, we have no time to waste and I will make sure the negotiations go ahead in a timely manner.”

Reprinted from E&E News with permission from POLITICO, LLC. Copyright 2021. E&E News provides essential information for energy and environment professionals.


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