Finally, a win on climate loss and damage

“We must now pay attention to the global stocktake to be finalized by 2025 where the next generation of mitigation commitments will probably be made”

The Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan, adopted last Sunday by the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP 27) of the Framework Convention on Climate Change made history.

After 30 years, COP 27 finally adopted a decision on loss and damage.

While there are still many details to be threshed out, the significance of this development should not be understated.

Among others, COP 27 acknowledged the “urgent and immediate need for new, additional, predictable and adequate financial resources to assist developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.”

It also established a transitional committee to operationalize funding arrangement that would address loss of lives and damage to property, infrastructure, livelihoods, and, in my view, non-economic assets resulting from climate change.

As expressed by Manila Observatory colleagues who witnessed the final hours of COP 27: “The creation of a loss and damage fund is a definite win, especially for developing countries, who have been experiencing the brunt of the climate crisis.

“It is a win for communities on the ground, frontline workers, and climate activists who have been calling for the creation of a facility that can adequately respond to climate needs; however, it is still a long road ahead for loss and damage – the specifics of the fund still need to be laid out, and the source of the fund remain to be identified.

“The next few months and years, therefore, will serve as proof of whether countries follow through with their promise to work together to meet the global goal set in the Paris Agreement, and, in the process, achieve climate justice.”

This fight began way back in 1996 when developing countries wanted a Clean Development Fund to be funded by developed countries as compensation for their historical emissions.

But that was hijacked in Kyoto by developed counties and became the Clean Development Mechanism that allowed offsets and credits.

This time, the developing countries did not blink and had their eye on the ball.

There was huge resistance by developed countries but that crumbled slowly because of the weight of the moral imperative which translated into political pressure.

I was one of the few who was sure we would have a good outcome on loss and damage but I did not expect it to be this strong.

Earlier this year, the Manila Observatory, supported by The Stockholm Institute, Samdhana, and Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, convened a meeting in Bohol on this issue.

In that meeting, participants identified ideas of of a global, national, and loss and damage systems which addresses local needs and lived experiences.

The financing facility should be additional to existing financing for adaptation and mitigation, considering they tackle different issues and, therefore, respond to different needs.

It should be accessible and requirements to access the fund should be as least onerous as possible.

This means reducing the bureaucracy that comes with drafting concept notes and applying for grants, as well as lessening the number of signatories who will have to sign off prior to the release of the amount needed.

The facility, whichever form it holds, should not impose additional burdens on the communities.

This means the money should not be given in the form of a loan, which will further disadvantage communities, who will then have to think about not just repayment, but the cost of interest and collaterals.

It should build on the capabilities and accountability of vulnerable communities.

Those communities on the ground facing the brunt of climate hazards are also among those with the most knowledge on how to utilize the money in a way that benefits the communities most, whether this is through improving their early warning systems, climate education, resettlement, or rehabilitation.

Finally, the facility should be founded on equity and justice.

It is understood that those who contribute the least to climate change are those who are most affected by it, and therefore those who have benefited the most from industrialization and the consumption and burning of fossil fuels should assist those who experience the brunt of an ever-heating world.

It is therefore an issue of climate justice.

This was a solid and good outcome.

I actually expected much less — more of a process decision than actually the establishment of loss and damage funding arrangements which is probably a fund, which is a better option than a facility.

One thing that should be highlighted is the role of Vice Yu, Filipino lawyer, in the loss and damage negotiations as lead for the Group of 77 and China.

It’s a pity that he no longer represents the Philippines.

The Marcos government should bring him back and ask him to join the delegation again.

Overnight, we will gain influence in the process as we used to before.

Vice will continue to lead the Group of 77 in the loss and damage negotiations as details of the Fund will have to be worked out. He is also leading G77 in the global stocktake discussions.

The loss and damage victory is good.

But we must also now pay attention to the global stocktake to be finalized by 2025 where the next generation of mitigation commitments will probably be made.

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