Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Facing Up Loss and Damage

The need to adequately address ‘Loss and Damage’ – the recognition that some climate related impacts are occurring and will continue to occur despite efforts to reduce greenhouse gases – has been a clear and repeated concern throughout the COP discussions so far.

Heard most frequently from those countries at high risk of ‘Loss and Damage’ there is a concern that adequate provision will not be made to support the most vulnerable in dealing with unstoppable climate change impacts.

‘Loss and Damage’ can occur in human systems for example by affecting jobs and livelihoods and in driving migration.  This morning the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security presented new research about the frontline impact of climate change on migration in Pacific Island States. The research found that 15 percent of people in Tuvalu, 10 percent of people in Nauru and nearly 1.5 percent of people in Kiribati have moved abroad over the course of the last ten years. Many others have tried to migrate and still more have become “internal migrants,” placing strains on the already overpopulated capitals.  On the first day of the COP, the Prime Minister of Fiji confirmed that his country was in discussion with neighboring Islands about the potential to relocate their entire populations if the sea around them continues to rise, demonstrating how real and immediate this problem is.

‘Loss and Damage’ also occurs in natural systems such as biodiversity and the fate of coral reefs and the consequences of the loss of these reefs, in terms of increasing coastal erosion and storm surges, was highlighted by several governments and will be a major focus of Ocean day tomorrow (3rd Dec).

During a press conference by the Climate Action Network today, creating adequate provisions for ‘Loss and Damage’ was a key issue and seen as a major plank in addressing the ocean generally.   Harjeet Singh of Action Aid said that it was in relation to the ocean that ‘Loss and Damage’ becomes extremely important: “Its about rising sea levels, its about oceans turning acidic, its about glaciers melting.  So how do we deal with that? These are all new challenges and we need new solutions. We need a new, permanent institution to deal with that.”

Although significant financial pledges have been made to assist with various forms of adaptation, mitigation and solutions development, as yet these continue to fall far short of what is required and the need for more commitments and permanent solutions to ‘Loss and Damage’ will continue as a strong demand.