Loss and Damage Set to Take Center Stage at COP27

Loss and Damage Set to Take Center Stage at COP27

COP27 begins in Egypt next month, and "loss and damage” is set to be a central issue. The term refers to the fact that the effects of climate change fall disproportionately on low-income countries. Even though many have recently chosen to follow the path set by the world’s richest countries -- industrialization using the dirtiest forms of energy -- these countries have suffered the most, despite emitting less historically. The term has been in use since 1991, when the small island nation Vanuatu submitted a proposal to the UN for a plan to compensate small island states for the damages incurred by sea level rise.

Oxfam International: Climate loss and damage, July 20, 2022.

Robin Hood: The Global Story of Climate Change Loss and Damage | Who Should Pay For It, May 3, 2022.

Euronews: Loss and damage | How climate reparations are pitting the North against the South, June 1, 2022.

Historically, rich countries have been reluctant to take charge on loss and damage -- but at COP27, that may be about to change. Countries have begun to organize around creating a practical plan for climate reparations. The Caribbean nations, for example, plan to work together to push for a loss and damage response fund at the conference.

Wael Aboulmagd, special representative to the COP27 president, also says loss and damage will take center stage. "We need to find a practical solution that accommodates the various concerns and it's up to us as the incoming COP presidency, to sort of navigate and finesse this process. We are inching closer," Aboulmagd told Reuters.

Guardian: 'Polluters must pay' | UN secretary general calls for global windfall tax on energy companies, September 20, 2022.

DW: This is just how unfair climate change is, May 21, 2021.

Carbon Brief: Which countries are historically responsible for climate change?, October 5, 2021.

New York Times Events: Here’s What’s New and What’s Next | Halfway to COP27, June 30, 2022.

Why This Matters

83% of all disasters in the last decade were climate-related events, affecting 1.7 billion people and killing 410,000. The world’s poorest countries are bearing the bulk of the consequences -- natural disasters caused 2 million deaths worldwide between 1970 and 2019, with more than 90% in developing countries. Storms intensified by climate change are projected to displace 200 million people over the next 20 years and by the year 2100, extreme heat events will make parts of Asia and Africa uninhabitable for up to 600 million people. A refugee crisis at this scale threatens sociopolitical stability worldwide.

NBC: Floods, Heat And Fire | How Climate Change Is Unfolding In Real Time,  July 29, 2022.

ENDEVR: Extreme Weather Events | The New Normal? | Climate Change (Documentary), July 10, 2022.

CBS: Climate change could displace 200 million in 20 years, disaster relief organization warns, June 1, 2022.

Amanpour and Company (PBS): The Great Climate Migration Has Begun, May 24, 2021.

Climate change is contributing to hunger crises, as well. 345 million people are facing food insecurity across the world as a result of droughts and flooding. In Kenya, 85% of the nation’s livestock has died over the past two years alone, leaving residents hungry and farmers without income.

Rich countries responsible for the majority of history’s global emissions will find greater pressure than ever at COP27 to help countries prepare for the damage that’s irreversible, even as they focus on mitigating the worst to come.

Bertelsmann Foundation: A Global Security Threat | Climate Change, February 28, 2022.

WW0: Facebook Live conversation on national security, climate migration and the climate crisis, September 9, 2020.

BBC: How climate change is making inequality worse, September 27, 2022.

Recovering from Disaster

Just this year, natural disasters intensified by climate change have wreaked havoc on many nations in the Global South. In Pakistan, for example, a devastating bout of flooding thrust the nation into crisis. Preliminary data suggest that up to 9 million people could be pushed into poverty. According to the World Bank, floods could cause the poverty rate to rise between 2.5% and 4%. Meanwhile, the UN states that at least 41% of Somalia’s population of nearly 16 million people will face acute food insecurity between now and December as a result of drought and inflation. A recent report shows that 54 countries -- which house over half of the world’s poorest people -- need immediate debt relief to survive the climate crisis.

Some rich countries have taken action. Denmark plans to give about $13 million to vulnerable countries suffering from natural disasters, marking the first time in UN history that a wealthy member state has committed to distributing reparations for climate change. Germany has also pledged $58.4 million to Pakistan to help the country recover from flooding.

UN: UN Secretary-General | "Pakistan is paying a supersized price for manmade climate change,” October 11, 2022.

Grantham Imperial: Dr Friederike Otto speaks to CNN's Connect the World about the extreme heat, 18 July 2022, July 19, 2022.

The Newsmakers: Are rich nations responsible for Pakistan’s Floods?, September 5, 2022.

ENDEVR: How Climate Change is Affecting Pakistan and Triggering Conflicts (Documentary), February 16, 2022.

Chatham House: Loss and damage | Where are we now and what happens next?, January 31, 2022.

Guardian: One of the greatest injustices' | Pacific islands on the frontline of the climate crisis, Oct 25, 2021.

WW0 COP26 Talks: President of Palau, Surangel Whipps Jr., November 5, 2021.