It’s Not Sufficient to Avert and Minimise if We Forget to Address

6 December 2018

Yesterday we were treated to the draft decision text of the report of the Executive Committee (Ex-Com) of the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts. The report starts off well, highlighting the forthcoming review of the WIM, seeking inputs to the terms of reference for the review, and reminding everyone of the importance of the IPCC special report on 1.5oC. Sadly, that’s where the positives cease. But ECO thinks it might have a suggestion on how to improve the text.

But first, a slight detour: At many previous COPs, negotiators have struggled to come to terms with the fact that Loss and Damage is separate from adaptation. Amazingly some WIM Ex Com members attempted to subsume Loss and Damage under Adaptation, despite the fact that it is a separate article in the Paris Agreement. This would ignore the plight of the millions of people already facing the irreversible consequences of climate change; for many of them it is already too late for adaptation. The IPCC 1.5 report has confirmed that loss and damage is a real problem, with substantial evidence of the impacts, causalities and attributions.

Maybe the problem with loss and damage is that negotiators are too focussed on two of the three tasks from the Paris Agreement, namely to avert and to minimize €“ but somehow forgot the third one, to address? ECO would like to remind negotiators that while the Paris Agreement says Parties should cooperate to avert, minimize and address loss and damage, the mandate of the WIM is focused on addressing it. Vulnerable countries and their populations suffering from the climate crisis won’t be able to address loss and damage without the necessary financial resources.

Now, back to that draft text on the Ex-Com report. First, the draft text only indirectly mentions finance, once. Negotiators, this aspect requires your urgent attention; you will need to respond with more clarity on how you plan to implement workstream (e) in the WIM Ex-Com’s five-year rolling work plan. This is the workstream focused on action and support, including finance. Second, ECO notes that paragraphs 38 and 39 of the report of the task force for displacement are mentioned and that these highlight the need for finance. Nevertheless, they lack a clear plan for implementation. Third, we cannot expect the WIM, particularly the developing country members, to participate actively if the mechanism is not adequately resourced. The COP decision must give the Ex- Com a clear mandate and the elements to work on unlocking additional sources of finance, as part of its 2019 work.

WSo, negotiators, the sooner you grasp the thorny issue of providing the financial resources to address loss and damage, the sooner the global community can start to address the loss and damage that is now devastating the poor and vulnerable communities around the world. Communities whose members are unfortunately largely influenced are excluded from these hallowed negotiating rooms.

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