Loss & Damage

4 December 2010

Damage to ‘Mother Earth’ due to climate change is already happening.  Loss and damage, such as severe flooding, sea level rise, glacial retreat, ocean acidification and loss of biodiversity – these are effects that would not be happening in a world without substantial climate change.  
The recent floods in Pakistan prove the point of how serious this really is.  Island states such as Tuvalu, Kiribati, the Maldives and many others where much of the land area is less than 1 metre above sea level face the prospect of submersion.  And where the inundation of their land is not complete, as well as low-lying coastal regions globally, there will be dramatic degradation of anything remaining above water.  No wonder that throughout the Pacific region, plans are being made to relocate whole populations.
This reality check provides some context for the reference to loss and damage in the Chair’s LCA text.  That provides a positive signal but is not yet at the level of seriousness it deserves. The COP must take a decision here at COP 16 to mandate an elaboration of a mechanism to address loss and damage.
To be certain, addressing loss and damage on the regional and national level is not easy. It requires the active participation of a broad range of stakeholders and mobilization of expertise such as risk reduction practitioners, scientists, the insurance industry, etc. Such engagement cannot be achieved with only weak recognition of the issue.
A work programme including workshops is needed to develop modalities for the mechanism to be approved by COP 17. ECO also highlights that the scope of the mechanism on loss and damage clearly depends on the level of ambition in mitigation (which as of now is far short of adequate) and concrete adaptation actions to enhance the resilience of the most vulnerable people and ecosystems.

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