Five Years of Procrastination

11 December 2018

The Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage (WIM) celebrated its fifth birthday yesterday. On such an auspicious occasion, let’s look back on its achievements.

The WIM was set up with three elements to its mandate: i) enhance understanding; ii) facilitate coordination; iii) enhance action and support (aka finance). It’s made some gains on the first two €” reaching out to other bodies and establishing a Taskforce on Displacement. But as for enhancing or mobilising finance, the WIM has been missing in action.

It is apparent that developed countries have been scared of finance for loss and damage €” they”ve spent years ensuring that negotiations talk about finance as little as possible and in the smallest of rooms. When finance was discussed, it was almost entirely about insurance for extreme events. Delegates, please note: making vulnerable countries pay insurance premiums is NOT climate finance! Nor, for that matter, is making them take out loans to recover from increasingly strong and frequent hurricanes propelled by warming oceans from ever-rising GHG emissions. Enough!

It is well past time to discuss finance to address loss and damage. The WIM needs to be fully operationalised into a mechanism that can channel funding at scale to vulnerable countries. There are innovative ideas that could help generate much needed finance. A Climate Damages Tax on the fossil fuel industry could raise US$300 billion a year from sources above and beyond ODA and adaptation finance €” both of which need to increase. It could also raise funds for a fair transition €” helping low-income communities, like the “gilets jaune”, to transition to fossil-fuel-free transport, energy and jobs. Such ideas have the potential to unlock the loss and damage negotiations. A Climate Damages Tax could provide predictable finance at scale. Come on delegates, let’s get serious about polluter-pays and about climate justice for the most vulnerable that ultimately is for us all!

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