A broad coalition of nearly 150 U.S.-based progressive groups on Monday urged the Biden administration to commit to “meaningful strides” on financing “loss and damage” at the UN’s COP27 climate conference. which is fast approaching in Sharm el-Sheikh. , Egypt.
“The discussion is one thing, and the actual provision of money is another.”
Long a mainstay of the climate justice movement, loss and damage financing aims to compensate developing countries for the destruction caused by decades of unmitigated greenhouse gas pollution, primarily from excessive fuel use. fossils by rich countries. Although the poorest members of humanity bear the least responsibility for the planetary emergency, they are already suffering the most and remain highly vulnerable and ill-equipped to deal with its increasingly deadly consequences.
“It is long overdue for the United States and other wealthy countries to recognize the terrible and unfair burden it is placing on low-income and climate-vulnerable countries and take full responsibility for addressing this crisis,” he said. Rachel Cleetus, Policy Director for Climate. and Energy Program of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in a statement.
As the coalition wrote in a letter to John Kerry, President Joe Biden’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate:
This year alone, extreme weather-related events, including terrible floods in Pakistan; persistent drought in the Horn of Africa, intense heat waves in parts of Asia, Africa, South America, the United States, Australia and Europe ; and severe wildfires in Europe, Russia and North America have wreaked deadly and costly havoc. Slow-onset climate disasters such as sea level rise, desertification and threats to food and water supplies are also already having a significant impact and will worsen. In addition to economic losses, climate change also leads to the loss of cultural heritage, ways of life, biodiversity and other profound non-economic losses. The most extreme of these impacts are already beyond the ability of frontline nations and communities to respond with ordinary adaptation measures. Low-income countries and marginalized communities bear a disproportionate burden of the resulting loss and damage, and will continue to do so.
The responsibility and obligation of wealthier nations like the United States is clear, as they are responsible for the majority of the heat-trapping emissions driving these climate extremes. The United States in particular is responsible for nearly a quarter of cumulative carbon dioxide emissions since the start of the Industrial Revolution, by far the largest share of any individual nation. Yet the United States’ negotiating position on loss and damage has been recalcitrant, creating a major obstacle to meeting the urgent needs of climate-vulnerable countries and causing great damage to our nation’s reputation on the world stage. , including most recently at COP26 in Glasgow last November and at the climate conference in Bonn in June.
Nearly 10 years have passed since the establishment of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage, but “there has been no progress in obtaining meaningful action to provide funding for this critical issue”, says the letter.
“Development assistance and episodic humanitarian assistance in response to disasters are not a substitute for the strong, predictable and continuous flows of needs-based funding that are necessary to protect people, ecosystems and livelihoods from disasters. before they happen,” the letter continues. “Private or philanthropic funding is also no substitute for public sources of funding. Nor is funding for adaptation sufficient to deal with the kinds of climate extremes that go beyond the limits of ordinary adaptation measures. “
At last year’s COP26 meeting, Scotland committed just over $2 million for loss and damage funding, becoming the first government to do so. Scotland was followed by Wallonia, a French-speaking region of Belgium, which dedicated around $1 million to the cause.
However, the negotiators “failed to obtain the creation of a new fund dedicated to the damages that vulnerable countries had demanded earlier at the summit”. Reuters reported at the end of the event, due to “resistance from the United States, the European Union and some other wealthy nations”.
On Monday, the coalition implored the Biden administration to “stop blocking progress” and “work constructively” at COP27 from Nov. 6-18 to advance a pact to create a so-called funding facility, which would be dedicated funding for loss and damage. mechanism under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Bloomberg reported last week that the White House had decided to support formal UN negotiations on payment of loss and damage at the summit next month.
“The outsized role the United States has played in perpetuating the climate crisis demands that we support and provide resources to those who are already experiencing devastating climate impacts.”
“The recognition by the United States of the need to discuss loss and damage funding is welcome,” Brandon Wu, director of policy and campaigns at ActionAid USA, said Monday. “But the discussion is one thing, and the actual provision of money is another.”
“The Biden administration must support arrangements for direct funding of loss and damage needs in developing countries,” Wu said. ‘countless frontline communities facing climate catastrophe.’
Denmark last month became the first UN member to pledge funds for loss and damage, allocating around $13 million to Africa’s Sahel region and other regions devastated by extreme weather disasters. .
Not only does this pale in comparison to the more than $5 trillion in unpaid damages that fossil fuels are thought to cause each year, but critics have warned that a substantial part of the promised funding is structured to enrich insurers. deprived at the expense of those who need it most.
Mara Dolan of the Women’s Environment and Development Organization stressed on Monday the need for “robust, grant-based public funding for loss and damage”.
“The outsized role the United States has played in perpetuating the climate crisis demands that we support and provide resources to those who are already experiencing devastating climate impacts,” Dolan said. “We reject attempts to use conversations about loss and damage to entrench wealth and the exploitation of colonial financial institutions, private financial actors, and wealthy nations, and urge the United States at COP27 to support the grant-based public funding that focuses the redistribution of resources to frontline communities and countries.”
Rachel Rose Jackson, director of climate research and policy at Corporate Accountability, noted that the United States, led by Kerry and other officials, “has long tried to defer the payment of a huge debt of several decades that they owe to low-income countries”.
“Mr. Kerry says the cost is too high even for the richest country in the world? So instead of abandoning those most exposed to the global crisis,” Jackson said, “the United States should hold the big polluters – the Exxons, the Totals, the Shells, the BPs, the Kochs – accountable instead of doing their bidding.”
Monday’s letter – organized by ActionAid USA, Corporate Accountability, Friends of the Earth US, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, Women’s Environment and Development Organization, Taproot Earth and Oxfam America – attracted a total of 143 signatories.
U.S. support for loss and damage financing, the signatories argued, should be seen as a complement to rapid reductions in global warming emissions and an equitable contribution to climate finance for mitigation and climate change. ‘adaptation.
“We simply can no longer afford years of failure and delay as people lose their lives, homes and livelihoods or face devastating food and water shortages due to a problem they did little to cause,” the letter said. “The success of COP27 depends critically on increasing contributions from rich, polluting countries like the United States to climate finance and demonstrating clear will and solidarity to address the losses and significant damage.”