Loss, Damage and Survival

8 June 2010

The failure of industrialized countries to reduce emissions and provide support for adaptation  means that some countries on the frontline of climate change are facing unavoidable impacts on their economy and for some, their survival as nations. In the face of this threat, small island states and other developing countries have tabled a loss and damage mechanism in the adaptation negotiations. Disliking certain elements of the proposed mechanism, the pre-Copenhagen strategy of quite a few developed countries was to kill the issue by not talking about it at all. Ignoring the issue is not an option: it will not go away. In picking up the pieces from Copenhagen, parties should bring creative thinking on how to help people and countries when sea levels rise, lands disappear under water and deserts spread. ECO applauds the Chair for putting Annex I countries on the spot by posing questions on this issue. However, the answers given by Australia, Japan and others show that Annex I has still not grasped the rapidly growing importance of this issue. Strengthening existing initiatives on risk reduction and insurance is a good start but will not be adequate by themselves.  A scale shift in global commitment and new mechanisms will be required to address the impacts both of extreme weather events and the more slowly emerging disasters of disappearing coastlines. A vital action ingredient is for Parties to acknowledge the consequences of unavoidable impacts. If most of 
London, for example, were just 1 meter above sea level (instead of a posted average of 24 m), would Annex I be more engaged?

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