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COP27: Act here and now on loss and damage facility, climate-vulnerable nations tell rich ones

Sherry Rehman, Pakistan's climate minister made a powerful appeal to rich nations to help those affected by climate change. Photo: UNFCCC Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s climate minister made a powerful appeal to rich nations to help those affected by climate change. Photo: UNFCCC

Countries most vulnerable to climate change, some of which saw its devastating impacts this year, asked their developed counterparts November 17, 2022 to go beyond political will and show political action on a loss and damage finance facility. This happened even as some developed countries softened their stand on the issue with some conditions.

Ministers representing blocs such as G77 plus China, Association of Small Island States (AOSIS), Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the Independent Association of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (AILAC) made powerful statements at a press conference on the urgent need for the establishment of a loss and damage finance facility at COP27.

“We were hopeful at the beginning of COP 27 and happy that loss and damage made it to the agenda. This was a success. Now all countries need to come together and find common ground,” Sherry Rehman, minister for climate change, Pakistan, who represented G77 and China, said.

She added that 134 countries had already formed a common ground on this. They wanted to take this agenda item forward and were hoping at least for a committee on the loss and damage finance facility.

G77 plus China has put forth a proposal on the establishment of a loss and damage finance facility.

Rehman reiterated several times that climate change was now a justice issue and that justice delayed is justice denied. At the core of the COP process should be people. And at the core of that should be vulnerable communities.

“Why that matters is that the entire COP system is based on common but differentiated responsibilities. This is the central bargain and for this bargain not to be broken, we have to at least have a political announcement.

“Later, the details along with the mosaic of options for loss and damage funding suggested by the developed countries can be discussed and worked out. Also, what needs to be taken care of is if the established facility can be easily navigated by vulnerable countries,” she added.

“The way forward would be a powerful message from this COP. This is crucial for not just our future but also salvaging what is left right now. Our recommendation is to timeline everything. There should be an action plan for operationalising the loss and damage finance facility,” Rehman concluded.

“At this stage we know the issues and expectations on the loss and damage finance facility. Our countries are most vulnerable and are paying a heavy price. Here, in Sharm El-Sheikh, the decision should be made on the establishment of the facility.

“Our populations are expecting an answer to address their losses that they are unjustly facing. These would become worse as greenhouse gases rise further. The decision that can be taken today should not be pushed to eternity. Time to act is here and now,” Alioune Ndoye, minister from Senegal representing the LDCs, said.

“There is not enough discussion on the rights of young people and also of humans not born yet. To ensure their rights to planet Earth, we have to move towards a decision on a loss and damage fund. Anything less is a betrayal of the people who are on the forefront of climate change impacts and fighting for humanity,” Molwyn Joseph, minister from Antigua and Barbuda, representing the AOSIS, said.

“I have had the opportunity to speak to leaders and there seems to be political commitment. But this political commitment has not translated into political action to establish the facility. Why should I go to the UN for donations? That cannot be an expectation from a small island state,” he added.

On the other hand, the European Union seems to have somewhat softened its stand on a loss and damage finance facility albeit with a caveat that some developing countries, by which it perhaps means China, should also pay for loss and damage finance.

At a press conference, Frans Timmermans, the executive vice president of the European Commission, said: “The EU has a problem with the G77 plus China proposal. The proposal started to count emissions in 1992 but countries that were developing in 1992 are now top economic performers and those countries should also contribute to a loss and damage funding.”

He added that the world of today “is far more complex than just being divided between developed and developing countries.”

The funding should be targeted. Those countries, which are most vulnerable to climate change such as the small island states, should get the funding first and as soon as they need it, according to Timmermans.

He further wanted a mosaic of funding options available for funding loss and damage, among which the recently launched Global Shield initiative could be one. “What you can do with existing instruments can be done immediately. Vulnerable countries don’t have the time. They need money right now,” he added.

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