Small island states are the ‘canaries’ of climate change. Canary birds were once taken into coal mine shafts to test the levels of poisonous gas – if they died then miners knew the conditions were lethal. People of nations vulnerable to climate change are now those canaries.
The Paris Agreement has enshrined three pillars for action to combat climate change:
- Mitigation: To reduce emissions to keep global temperatures well below 2oC above pre-industrial levels, but with the ambition to limit it to 1.5oC
- Adaptation: To adapt to the impacts these rising temperatures will trigger – more severe and more frequent droughts, flooding, cyclones and hurricane
- Loss and Damage: The impacts that the world cannot mitigate or adapt to.
Loss and Damage
After each cyclone, you can wait for humanitarian response to help you rebuild your home, you can build your home with stronger materials and in safer ways, but as the cyclones strengthen and become more frequent and less predictable, major changes must be made for survival. People have to be relocated, livelihoods are changed completely and massive reconstruction needed. For the world’s most vulnerable countries, this is an enormous financial burden on their GDPs and is particularly unjust, as other nations have caused the climate change impacts they are facing.
The outcome at COP23
The outcome from the Loss and Damage negotiations at COP23 is disappointing. The Warsaw International Mechanism’s (WIM) executive committee, tasked with taking forward the Loss and Damage outcomes from Paris, must deliver a technical paper on financial instruments for loss and damage, as part of its five-year work plan. However, there is no proposal for this paper to consider additional and innovative financial sources; it will only look at available finance. With June 2019 as the deadline for finalisation of this technical paper and no assurances on a process for raising finance for Loss and Damage, urgency and commitment does not match the severity of climate-driven disasters on the scale that is needed to address loss and damage.
Time to take a share of the responsibilities
Insurance-based and risk-pooling initiatives, such as the InsuResilience Global Partnership and Africa Risk Capacity, have been praised repeatedly at COP23. While these are in the WIM’s mandate to support, they need to be embedded into an integrated risk management approach, and alone are far from sufficient for covering the loss and damage needs of most vulnerable countries. The level of political backing and energy behind these initiatives must be matched with similar efforts on options which better reflect the underlying responsibilities for causing the problem of climate change.
Read more at careclimatechange.org