Is the COP facing a dÃ©jÃ vu mom ent? As Typhoon Kammuri threatens the Philippines, are we about to see a repeat of the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013? It was Typhoon Haiyan’s impact on the people of the Philippines that mobilized global cooperation around the urgency to respond to irreversible loss and damage due to climate change. COP19 responded after lengthy negotiations with a decision to establish the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) on loss and damage, a political response to a human catastrophe caused by climate change.
Six years later at COP25, we are at another watershed moment. The review event of the WIM that took place the day before the COP began clearly recognised that the outputs of the WIM should be greater than the outputs of the Executive Committee (ExCom) alone. The review also recognised the lack of progress to date. Apart from some promising work under the Task Force for Displacement, the rest of the ExCom work plans are sadly far behind from where we need to be. So, what needs to change to unlock the potential of the loss and damage process in order to respond to the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable?
We need to grasp the situation and recognise that we cannot respond to the climate emergency on the ground without dedicated resources. Using the model of the Technology Mechanism comprising both the Climate Technology Centre and Network and the Technology Executive Committee, the COP should decide to establish a Loss and Damage Facility as an operational arm of the WIM alongside the policy work of the ExCom. This would be an essential first step to fill the void on action and support.
We urgently need a WIM that is fit for purpose. It is no longer 2013; we can’t accept outcomes with inadequate structures anymore. We have learned a great deal since Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines. It is clear that climate disasters are becoming more prevalent and the humanitarian system is close to the breaking point, we must address loss and damage now, and prepare for an increasingly dangerous future. We need an action-oriented Loss and Damage Facility, but we do not want to prejudge what it will look like. We need COP25 to recognise the failure of the existing system. It is time for action on loss and damage now!