14 Oct 2022
Your guidebook to Loss and Damage
Have you been hearing about Loss and Damage often these days? Ever  wondered why we need to talk more about it? In its most simple terms it refers to the immediate and long-lasting impacts of climate change which can neither be avoided nor can be adjusted to. It normally refers to the destructive impacts of […]
Have you been hearing about Loss and Damage often these days? Ever  wondered why we need to talk more about it? In its most simple terms it refers to the immediate and long-lasting impacts of climate change which can neither be avoided nor can be adjusted to. It normally refers to the destructive impacts of climate change that cannot be avoided either by mitigation (avoiding and reducing greenhouse gas emissions) or adaptation (adjusting to current and future climate change impacts). Loss and damage often includes impacts from extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods. It also includes slow-onset impacts such as the melting of glaciers. Financial bailout Last month, Denmark became the first UN member state to offer “loss and damage” support. The country has pledged over $13 million in support to developing nations that have suffered social and economic impacts of climate change. Loss and damage which started gaining significance since the last UN climate conference in Glasgow will once again be a prominent issue of discussion at COP27 in Egypt next month.  The issue remains contentious primarily because the Global South demands accountability from the Global North for greenhouse gas emissions. As many as 23 developed nations are responsible for half of all the historical carbon dioxide emissions. According to a 2020 OXFAM report, the richest one percent contributed twice as much carbon emissions as the poorest half of the world. So while developing nations bear the brunt of climate change, they have little finances for a bailout. The Global North is still struggling to accept it as a matter of liability and compensation rather than a gift or charity. Till date, the 2021 Glasgow Climate Pact which was agreed upon at COP26 only “urges” the stakeholders to provide “support for activities addressing loss and damage associated with adverse effects of climate change”. Now the debate is whether to create a separate dedicated financing facility (as suggested by developing nations) or earmark funds from existing financial institutions such as the World Bank (developed world’s suggestion). Why is it important to talk about it  For long loss and damage has been spoken about but it garners renewed focus in the wake of recurrent climate disasters be it the heatwaves in India, floods in Pakistan and Nigeria or melting glaciers in Bhutan. In climate vulnerable countries, such occurrences are only going to worsen. The impact of such climate disasters include loss to life and biodiversity, loss to property and livelihood. People in such disaster-prone areas have to keep rebuilding their lives because of a climate event over which they are hardly responsible. Women-headed households in Bangladesh, for instance, spend up to 30 percent of their total spending on protecting themselves from floods and storms. A group of climate-vulnerable developing countries have called for COP27 to look harder into loss and damage. In less than a month, we will know in which way the winds are blowing.
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