Are we really going to make the poor pay for loss and damage?

3 December 2014

It’s a fool’s game to think that polluters might get away with not paying for the loss and damage they have contributed to. For Typhoon Haiyan 6,300 people of Tacloban paid with their lives only a year ago, and 4 million of their friends and relatives paid with their houses. 13 million people in Kenya paid with hunger in the drought ending in 2011. And the people of the Pacific, and other low-lying regions, are paying with their land and homes. Someone has to pay for the loss and damage — the inevitable result of low mitigation ambition and inadequate levels of adaptation support provided by rich countries. At the moment it is the poor who are paying.

Clearly this is not tolerable, and Parties recognised this in Warsaw by incorporating the need for support within the functions of the Warsaw Loss and Damage Mechanism.

However, the current interim Executive Committee (ExCom) has been incapable of dealing with this obvious need in an adequate manner. As a result, finance, technology and capacity building are clearly lacking in the draft work plan – something that Parties must address. In short this means that Parties will have to decide whether a newly constituted ExCom will have the courage to deal with this gap. The COP therefore must a) provide them with a strong mandate to do so and b) endorse an ExCom constituted with proper representation of vulnerable countries – including a permanent place for AOSIS, LDCs and African countries. Parties might alternatively decide that support for loss and damage would be best dealt with at the COP level due to its highly political nature.

One thing is certain – it would be morally bankrupt to think that the poor should continue paying for the loss and damage that widely fall into the responsibility of big polluters.

Are we really going to make the poor pay for loss and damage?

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