The two most notable developments at the COP-27 at Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt pertain to extreme weather events.


Developments at COP27

  • On the first day of the COP, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreed to include “loss and damage” — compensating countries for climate-induced damages — in the summit’s main agenda.
  • A day later, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres unveiled details of a plan to ensure that everyone on the planet” is warned of hazardous weather in the next five years.
  • Both decisions were long overdue and their absence from the agenda of the past COPs reflects poorly on the UNFCCC’s commitment to climate equity.
  • Studies and reports — including those by the IPCC — have long warned about the climate vulnerability of nations with a minuscule GHG footprint. Inclement weather events in different parts of the world in the past 10 years have confirmed their worst fears.


What is the idea of ‘loss and damage’?

  • The idea of “loss and damage” compensations is nearly as old as global climate change negotiations.
  • However, even as sea levels kept rising and countries were ravaged by droughts and floods, climate delegates failed to summon the resolve to develop funding mechanisms to reduce the suffering of communities which had suffered nature’s furies — mitigation and adaptation occupied centre stage at the negotiations.


The Warsaw International Mechanism of 2013

  • At COP 19 in Warsaw in 2013, the issue finally received attention after the Philippines negotiator wept uncontrollably while speaking of the typhoon that had swept his country that year.
  • The Warsaw International Mechanism was set up to “expand the understanding” of the concept. But it remained a non-starter. There has been relatively more progress in developing warning systems to protect people from weather vagaries but nothing at the scale required to meet the challenge at hand.


What next?

  • The question on every climate change observer’s lips is where will the money for the new items on the COP’s agenda come from. Denmark has pledged $13 million, while Scotland has promised $5.7 million. These do not even constitute drops in the ocean.
  • To put things in perspective, flooding in Pakistan this year inflicted close to $40 billion in damages. And, the economic loss from cyclone Amphan in India and Bangladesh in 2020 was assessed at $15 billion.



With rich nations nowhere close to fulfilling their funding commitments in climate change mitigation and adaptation, “loss and damage” could become another polarising issue at Sharm El-Sheikh. There’s a growing realisation though that the issue cannot be put off for another year. COP-27’s success will depend on how negotiators resolve this tension.


SourceThe Indian Express


QUESTIONThe ‘loss and damage’ agenda and the ‘early warning systems’ have been the two hot topics on which the COP27 at Sharm el Sheikh was surrounded in discussion. Discuss how the two items are inexorably linked to each other and points toward a collaborative effort amongst members to minimise the damage to developing and small island nations?