New IPCC Report Urges "Loss and Damage" Action
The UN's latest IPCC report confirms that the world has already started to see the dire consequences of climate change -- extreme weather and disasters are impacting billions. Unless governments take major "transformational" action to reduce fossil fuel reliance and reshape global systems, we may "surpass limits to adaptation."
The report also confirms the "loss and damage" principle -- the worst of these consequences are often endured by the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. Faced with the high, compounding costs of climate change impacts, governments in poorer countries will increasingly cut funding from essentials, including healthcare and infrastructural improvements. As IPCC author Anjal Prakash told Reuters, unless wealthy nations step in to assist with the cost, “it’s an unending situation.”
At present, these disproportionate impacts are affecting Africa in particular-- as the report outlines, "Multiple African countries are projected to face compounding risks from: reduced food production across crops, livestock and fisheries; increasing heat-related mortality; heat-related loss of labor productivity; and flooding from sea level rise."
Robin Hood: "This is Loss and Damage - Who Pays" narrated by Mark Strong, September 23, 2021.
Why This Matters
The world's wealthiest countries, including the US, are undoubtedly liable for the vast majority of planetary warming. And although "loss and damage" liability is a subject often discussed on the international climate stage, no concrete steps have been taken to secure or distribute funds to countries in need of assistance. The report's authors hope their findings will serve to mount pressure on global leaders.
Carbon Brief: Which countries are historically responsible for climate change?, October 4, 2021.
DW: This is just how unfair climate change is, May 21, 2021.
Despite recent advances in the field of attribution science, experts are still divided on how to approach major loss and damage questions. Namely, who pays for damages, and how much?
It remains certain that more and more vulnerable people will bear the human costs if the world’s wealthiest nations fail to bear the economic ones -- the World Bank predicts that as many as 216 million people will be displaced due to climate impacts by 2050. Of these displacements, 86 million are predicted to emerge from Sub-Saharan Africa alone. Ugandan youth activist Hamira Kobusingye articulated the imminency of this risk for NBC:
For the global north, climate is a matter of 20 years, 30 years into the future. But for us in Africa, it is a today problem. We are already losing lives due to climate change and we already have refugees and people forced from their homes due to climate change.
WW0 COP26 Talks: President of Palau, Surangel Whipps Jr., November 5, 2021.