On the opening day of the UN climate conference, over 190 participating countries, including India, agreed to include funding for loss and damage in the agenda for the COP27.

 

Background

  • Human-caused climate change has already warmed the planet by 1.1 degrees Celsius, and millions of people are now experiencing the impacts of higher temperatures and extreme weather events.
  • According to the UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report 2022, the GHG emissions have rebounded and increased in India and six other major emitters in the aftermath of the pandemic.
  • This implies that some losses and damages from climate change are unavoidable.

 

Details

  • Inclusion of funding for loss and damage in the agenda for the COP27 –
    • The decision to include loss and damage in the main agenda of COP27 comes in the wake of a series of unprecedented climate disasters this year:
      • Europes worst drought in 500 years;
      • Pakistans worst ever flooding, extensive heat waves in several parts of the world.
    • The inclusion in the main agenda –
      • Will have the effect of mainstreaming the issue and would force regular discussions and greater progress.
      • Has renewed the fight for justice for communities losing their homes, crops and income.
  • India’s stand –
    • While inaugurating the India pavilion at COP27, showcasing LiFE (lifestyle for environment) as its theme in sync with the country’s stand on this issue, the Union Environment Minister has clarified that India welcomes the inclusion of this issue.
    • India is leading the Mission LiFE (2022-27), a global mass effort to revive the delicate balance between man and nature.
    • It advocates a transition from mindless and wasteful consumption to conscious and purposeful utilisation to safeguard and maintain the environment.
    • By 2028, it is expected that at least 80% of all villages and urban local bodies in India will be environmentally-friendly.

 

About Loss and damage”

  • It is a broad term used in UN climate negotiations to describe the impacts of climate change that exceed what people can adapt to.
  • It is and will continue to disproportionately affect vulnerable communities, making tackling the issue a matter of climate justice.
  • While the UNFCCC has not precisely defined loss and damage, it results from both extreme weather events (cyclones, droughts and heatwaves) and slow-onset changes (sea level rise, desertification, land degradation, ocean acidification).
  • The damages from these effects of climate change can be divided into economic losses (affecting resources, goods and services) and non-economic losses (loss of lives, the disappearance of cultures and ways of living, migration).

 

Genesis of the concept of Loss and damage”

  • Since the early 1990s, when the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was established, the appropriate response to loss and damage has been disputed.
  • Establishing liability and compensation for loss and damage has been a long-standing goal for vulnerable and developing countries in the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and the Least Developed Countries Group in negotiations.
    • Rich countries, who have historically been blamed for the climate crisis, have ignored the concerns of vulnerable people and countries.
  • Following much persuasion from developing countries and NGOs, the climate conference established the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) on Loss and Damages in 2013 to continue the negotiations on this issue.
    • The discussions under WIM so far have focused mainly on enhancing knowledge and strengthening dialogue.
    • No funding mechanism or even a promise to provide funds, has been provided.
  • However, momentum for providing funding to address loss and damage ultimately gained traction during the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in 2021.
    • A 3-year task force was set up to discuss a funding arrangement for loss and damage.
  • So far, Canada, Denmark, Germany, New Zealand, Scotland and the Belgian province of Wallonia have all shown some level of support for loss and damage financing.
  • Countries will have the opportunity to finally establish a framework to handle this vital issue at the COP27 summit in Egypt.

 

About ‘Warsaw International Mechanism’ for Loss and Damages –

The Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) for Loss and Damages, set up in 2013, was the first formal acknowledgment of the need to compensate developing countries struck by climate disasters.

 

Way ahead –

  • Inclusion on the formal agenda is just the beginning. The actual provision for climate disaster compensation is still a long way away.
  • Getting the rich and developed worlds to contribute money to climate response has been a challenging battle. And calculating loss due to climate change is difficult.
  • However, this decision has set the tone. The COP27 must agree to establish a Loss and Damage Finance Facility to assist people and nations in recovering from the effects of climate change.