Let’s Agree We’re Lost and Damaged

11 December 2015

The negotiations on the Paris Agreement have reached crunch time, and ECO is concerned that the crucial issue of loss and damage might be crunched at the last minute, as the Thursday text contains several options on loss and damage. ECO is hearing that there have been some constructive discussions in the last days. At the same time, some Parties are insisting on red lines on aspects that others have not even put to the forefront.

Just a reminder what we are talking about:  In broad terms, loss and damage is harm resulting from climate change that cannot be adapted to. That’s why we don’t think it makes much sense to deal with it as a subset of adaptation, although there are linkages. Extreme weather events like hurricanes and floods are what catch the greatest attention in the media, but it also includes ‘slow onset events’ like sea level rise, which are likely to make life worse for many more vulnerable people over the coming decades than extreme weather. It also covers permanent events like loss of land.

Loss and damage is of current and growing importance, which makes it a vital component of a climate agreement that sets the framework for the future. As far as money is concerned, it will definitely be needed, but there is no need—and this speaks in particular to the USA, Canada, as well as the EU, to trouble yourselves with discussions about compensation, although it was not mentioned in the previous agreement drafts. There are lots of issues that don’t relate to money that are of equal importance. For example, setting up a climate displacement facility and helping the millions that will be displaced or forced to migrate due to climate change, plus generally advancing the issue under the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM).

NGOs are united in our call for both the WIM and loss and damage to be anchored in the Paris agreement. This is not, and has not been, an excessive ask by vulnerable developing countries. So, countries, get on and agree on a landing zone that gives affected people the assurance that the loss and damage they face will not be ignored, and start building up the international response, including through the WIM. The future governing body will have freedom to find new or additional answers, if required. The Paris Agreement is crucial for changing course. Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Let’s Agree We’re Lost and Damaged

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