Global South prepares a major breakthrough for climate compensation at COP27

As countries from around the world descend on Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, for the 27th annual United Nations climate change conference, a demand from vulnerable countries that has existed since the first conference will finally have a chance to be heard. center stage.

Countries in the South will seek compensation for the losses and damages they are already suffering as the climate crisis escalates – and will continue to suffer into an increasingly uncertain future.

At the heart of the request is the fact that the countries most vulnerable to climate change are the least responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions that cause the problem.

WATCH | Will rich countries pay for global climate disasters?

Will rich countries pay for global climate disasters?

Vulnerable countries bear the brunt of climate change, even if they are not the drivers. At COP27, leaders from the Global South will tell rich countries – the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases – that it’s time to pay for the damages.

“This is a manifest injustice, because it is manifestly unfair that particularly vulnerable countries like ours have to find our own solutions, even if they are fundamentally limited to no support,” said Michai Robertson, chief negotiator on climate finance for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).

This alliance, which began in 1990 to represent the interests of 39 vulnerable, low-lying countries, is pushing for loss and damage to be on the agenda this year. They want compensation negotiations to start now and a funding mechanism to be finalized within the next year.

Climate injustice on the agenda

Robertson is from Antigua and Barbuda, one of the island nations most at risk of suffering massive losses from climate change. In 2017, Hurricane Irma forced the evacuation of all of Barbuda’s 1,600 residents and destroyed most buildings on the island.

Climate change will make these disasters more frequent. Island nations are being devastated by storms and floods, and an existential threat from rising sea levels that can engulf entire communities.

At the same time, island nations’ greenhouse gas emissions are miniscule compared to the highly industrialized economies of rich nations, and their budgets cannot afford all the recovery and reconstruction that future disasters will require.

“In developed countries, you can rely on your treasuries,” Robertson said. « We don’t have that safety net…. We need support to build that safety net and cushion when all these things happen, to address these issues once they happen. »

A view of a COP27 sign on the road leading to the conference area in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, as the city prepares to host the annual UN summit. (Sayed Sheasha/Reuters)

AOSIS is calling for the creation of a “tailored multilateral fund” under the UN climate change convention, with money going not only to vulnerable countries but also directly to communities most affected by climate change. A dollar amount was not proposed.

How could climate repairs work?

In an interview on her way to COP27, Canada’s climate change ambassador said Canada supports adding loss and damage to the conference agenda.

“Much more needs to be done to avoid, minimize and address loss and damage in developing countries, and more funding will be needed,” said Catherine Stewart.

Stewart said the details of loss and damage funding will have to be negotiated and could come from many different sources of money and support.

Outside of the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP) process, Germany has proposed a program called Global Shield that would be run by the G7 group of industrialized nations to address some of these losses. Global Shield will help vulnerable countries and communities obtain insurance to help rebuild and recover from climate disasters.

Filipino indigenous youth, students and environmental activists take part in the Global Climate Strike in Metro Manila in this September 20, 2019 file photo. (Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)

But Ahmed El Droubi, Greenpeace’s regional campaign director for the Middle East and North Africa, says the proposals fall short of the scale of support that will be needed.

“There are fears that such a system will benefit the managers of insurance companies more than communities in the Global South,” he said.

El Droubi says holding COP27 in Egypt – an « African COP » – is « a chance for the countries of the South to stand united and demand climate justice ».

What has been promised so far?

Canada has played a leading role in global climate finance to help developing countries mitigate climate change by reducing emissions and adapting to more extreme weather. In 2009, rich countries pledged to reach a climate finance target of US$100 billion by 2020.

This objective was not achieved.

According to the latest estimates, the rich countries reached around US$83 billion in 2020. But Canada and Germany led a diplomatic effort to compete with the rich countries and reach the $100 billion, which they say , will arrive by 2023.

However, this money is not specifically for loss and damage, which includes economic and non-economic losses that cannot be avoided through adaptation.

« We need a system. The UN doesn’t have a system right now that helps countries around the world apply, get funding immediately after a climate disaster, » said Eddy Pérez, head of the international climate diplomacy within the advocacy group Climate Action Network Canada.

Young Ugandan environmental activists hold placards with messages related to climate change addressed to the Ugandan government and other world leaders at Kampala International University as part of the Fridays for Future global climate strike movement on 19 March 2021. (Badru Katumba/AFP via Getty Images)

Recent disasters accentuate losses

The need for such a system was highlighted during the devastating floods in Pakistan caused by unusually heavy monsoon rains. A study by the World Weather Attribution initiative found that the increase in precipitation was likely caused by climate change.

The floods disrupted the lives of 33 million people and submerged a third of the entire country. Economic losses are estimated at more than US$33 billion. The total annual budget of the Pakistani government is US$43 billion.

According to the latest report on the impacts of climate change from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, even limiting global warming to 1.5 C in the short term, which is a goal of the International Paris Agreement, will not eliminate all predicted loss and damage to humans and ecosystems.

Pakistan’s geography has been transformed after much of the country was hit by heavy rains and widespread flooding earlier this year. Scientific analysis revealed that climate change likely contributed to the disaster. (Stephanie Jenzer/CBC)

« It’s just a serious reminder that you can have today, but you can’t have tomorrow, for us, » said Ineza Grace, loss and damage activist and researcher and member of the Rwandan delegation to COP27.

« And it’s really, really terrifying. »

Grace said that when negotiating loss and damage, rich countries must let the countries of the South take the lead and let them come up with the solutions.

“What we were asking for is, really from the North, to unlearn everything they think we need – and listen to what we know we need,” she said.


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