Is the “Loss and Damage Sceptic” a Thing?

7 September 2018

There’s a new brand of sceptic in our midst: the loss and damage sceptic. Just like the kind you’re more familiar with, they also deny the evidence of climate impacts right in front of their eyes. It almost defies imagination that parties would be arguing against the inclusion of loss and damage in the Global Stocktake (and elsewhere) given the litany of climate impacts that have been wreaking havoc all over the world.

This year’s impacts should be enough to convince even the most hardened loss and damage sceptic. We”ve had heat waves effecting massive death tolls across the planet; the worst drought in living memory on the east coast of Australia; drought across Europe including Britain, Germany, and Scandinavia, where reindeers are starving; the drought in Poland has affected a third of its crops; in Brazil the capital Brazilia is in danger of running out of water; savage wild fires in the forest of the west coast of the US and Canada; Japan has been hit by the strongest Typhoon (Jebi) in last twenty five years; in Senegal people are being displaced due to rising sea levels and diminished fishing resources; one million people have been displaced by devastating floods in Kerala, India, with at least 445 people dead; with yet another flooding 24,000 people have been affected in Assam €” all of this without needing to go back as far as the devastating 2017 hurricane season.

This morning, delegates, you will spend the most time you have spent so far this year discussing loss and damage. As part of the APA 8B discussions, an in-session submission will be discussed, along with two separate issue areas. ECO calculates that, at most, you will spend forty- five minutes on loss and damage. This is hardly a reflection of the importance of the issue to your constituents back home, nor is it a reflection of the importance accorded to loss and damage in the Paris Agreement. By establishing Article 8, you rightly gave loss and damage the same weight as mitigation and adaptation. This importance must be reflected in your discussions going forward in order to fulfil the promise made at Paris.

Before you’re tempted to say, “but we have the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM),” reflect on the progress made in nearly five years by that body. It has singularly failed to deal with one third of its mandate €” to enhance action and support, including finance for loss and damage. It is clear that the WIM needs more resources and it is equally clear that the WIM discussions are not enough. Dedicated time, space and enthusiasm within the political negotiations for loss and damage is essential. Anything less will renege upon your Paris obligations.

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