Saturday, 12th of November, is a global day of action on climate change. COP27 has been meeting this week and one of the main topics addressed was of ‘Loss and Damage’. What actually is this and how can it help?
The definitions of Loss and Damage published are mainly financial – for instance, providing funding to support communities to rebuild infrastructure after an extreme weather event. But it encompasses more than that (or it should do).
Adelle Thomas: Loss and damage means different things to different groups and there is no agreed upon definition of loss and damage within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). However, loss and damage can generally be understood as the negative impacts of climate change that occur despite, or in the absence of, mitigation and adaptation.
Loss and damage is often categorized as either economic or non-economic. Economic loss and damage are negative impacts that we can assign a monetary value to. These are things such as the costs of rebuilding infrastructure that has been damaged due a flood, or the loss of revenue from agricultural crops that were destroyed due to drought.
Non-economic loss and damage are negative impacts where it is difficult or infeasible to assign a monetary value to. These are things such as trauma from experiencing a tropical cyclone, loss of community due to displacement of people, or loss of biodiversity.
Loss and damage can occur due to both extreme events – such as heat waves and storms – and slow onset events – such as sea-level rise or ocean acidification.Loss and damage: A moral imperative to act, United Nations Climate Action
Both the Scottish and the UK Governments have pledged money towards supporting countries. First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon who is attending the COP27 summit said:
“In virtually everything we do on loss and damage, Scotland is trying to ensure that we listen to international perspectives – especially the perspectives of the Global South. After all, for more than 30 years now – since the views of island states were first ignored – decisions at COP have been dominated by the voices of the Global North.
“With loss and damage now on the formal agenda for the first time, this COP can mark a turning point in ensuring the views, experiences and perspectives of the Global South assume a far more central role. If that does happen it will lead to greater progress on loss and damage and will also, I hope, lead to quicker action on other aspects of climate change. I encourage all parties to make space for serious, open and honest discussion over the next two weeks.
“The funding Scotland has announced today is a small sum in terms of the overall scale of the loss and damage that developing countries face, but I hope that it sends an important message.
“As Denmark and Wallonia have shown, governments can act now on loss and damage if we want to. We don’t need to wait for a consensus decision at COP – we can start funding programmes straight away.
“I very much hope that we will make collective progress on loss and damage at this COP. If that doesn’t happen, I expect that more and more governments will take action on their own – my belief is that as we do, it will create a momentum for change which will feed into future COP summits.”
Out of Scotland’s limited budget, £7 million has been pledged and will enable communities to take direct action to address the impacts of loss and damage.
Click on this link to download Addressing Loss and Damage: Practical Action
The UK Government’s Foreign Secretary is James Cleverly. The UK has announced a £13 million Adaptation and Loss and Damage package to support vulnerable countries to adapt to climate impacts, and towards efforts to avert, minimise and address loss and damage.
It all seems such small amounts for the devastation caused by the actions of countries around the world who are taking very limited actions to reduce their carbon emissions. The world’s top polluters: China, USA, India, Russia and Japan are the stand out polluters with emissions actually rising.
The effects of extreme storm events and the rising of sea water levels will affect all of us, including the top five big polluters.
In a previous article The Orkney News we reported on the small island states leading the way in global climate justice: Why Vanuatu is Leading the Action Against Climate Change #COP27 #VIS2022
They want the International Court of Justice to provide an advisory opinion on the obligations of States under international law to protect the rights of present and future generations against the adverse effects of climate change.
The time is critical for many Pacific islands which will see complete destruction – no amount of loss and damage financial compensation will help them when whole communities and cultures disappear.
Here’s what’s happening with our climate (2022):
- The last 8 years are the warmest on record
- The rate of sea level rise has doubled since 1993 – It has risen by nearly 10 mm since January 2020.
- The Greenland ice sheet lost mass for the 26th consecutive year and it rained (rather than snowed) there for the first time in September.
- The global mean temperature in 2022 is currently estimated to be about 1.15 [1.02 to 1.28] °C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average.
- Ocean heat was at record levels in 2021 (the latest year assessed), with the warming rate particularly high in the past 20 years.
Click on this link for more information: WMO Provisional State of the Global Climate 2022
This weekend demonstrations and events will be happening around the world to protest at the lack of action being taken by our world leaders to address this real and present danger to our planet. Meanwhile the UK Parliament has before it a new Public Order Bill which include new offences and makes it more difficult for citizens in this country to exercise their right to peacefully demonstrate. It’s had its Third reading in the House of Commons and is progressing through the Lords. MPs will vote this through because the Tories ( whoever the Prime Minister is) have a very comfortable majority.
Loss and Damage is happening to our environment and to our civil rights. Removed by the politicians elected to serve us.