Paying for climate damage could threaten funding for other global warming targets: NPR -thats news

Climate activists at the United Nations climate conference in Egypt call for money to pay for loss and damage caused by global warming in low-income countries.

Climate activists at the United Nations climate conference in Egypt call for money to pay for loss and damage caused by global warming in low-income countries.

Peter Dejong/AP

Facing increasing pressure to compensate low-income countries for the damage they are suffering from climate change, rich nations may try to move money they have already pledged to other global warming targets instead of getting new funds, according to experts and participants at the United Nations climate conference in Egypt.

a draft document released this week in talks says money for loss and damage, a key issue in the negotiations, should be added to climate finance already going to low-income countries to help them limit and adapt to global warming. The current funding deal, which was created more than a decade ago, reflects the fact that industrialized nations like the United States have emitted most of the pollution that warms the Earth, while poorer countries bear the brunt of it. damage caused by rising temperatures.

But industrialized countries have for years failed to fully finance those pledges. That makes the chances of a big new cash injection from losses and damages slim, especially as countries grapple with the recession threat and the war in Ukraine. And it is increasing the possibility that developed nations will now seek to transfer money from older funding commitments to potentially new loss and damage obligations, without actually increasing the general funds that low-income nations need to tackle climate change.

“We need to see money, extra money, flow into” loss and damage, says Michai Robertson, an adviser to the Alliance of Small Island States, which represents communities that are especially vulnerable to climate change. However, he says a reorganization of climate funds is likely to be “a reality that we will have to deal with a lot in the future.”

Failure to deliver new money for loss and damage would mean that the richest countries would continue their chronic underfunding of developing nations. That raises fears that this year’s climate conference will not spur a strong global response to climate change despite the urgency signaled by deadly events around the world.

Without more money, loss and damage could hurt adaptation efforts

One of the challenges of dealing with climate change is that countries have to do several things at once to protect their people, experts say. Countries must limit or mitigate further warming. They must adapt to the risks that people face. And they must compensate poorer nations for damage already done and for impacts that cannot be avoided, such as the displacement of communities from rising sea levels. All of that requires funding, which, given the scope of the problem, should increase over time.

So far, several countries have promised money for loss and damage. But the amounts are relatively small and the money is not new, says Taylor Dimsdale, director of E3G, a climate change think tank. Rather, countries are “simply dividing the same climate finance pie in different ways.”

If money is withdrawn from mitigation and adaptation efforts, it could mean more places and people will experience irrevocable loss and damage.

Over time, the amount of money that is available to low-income countries will likely increase so that claims for loss and damage do not eat up funds for extreme weather adaptation, says Gaia Larsen, director of access and deployment for climate finance at the Center for Sustainable Finance at the World Resources Institute. But right now, “developed countries are pulling back, mainly because they don’t want to provide much more money,” she says.

Reached for comment, a spokesman for John Kerry, the US presidential special envoy on climate change, noted recent comments in which Kerry said the country “has been very clear about its support to address the issue of loss and damage.”

The debate focuses on the creation of a new fund for losses and damages

However, it is not yet clear what kind of action world leaders would be willing to commit to in Egypt.

Frans Timmermans, executive vice-president of the European Commission, suggested on Wednesday that a decision on whether to create a new fund or financial mechanism to address loss and damage should be delayed while details are ironed out, including whether certain developing countries such as China should contribute. and how the money would be distributed. China is the world’s biggest emitter of heat-trapping pollution and second-biggest economy.

“Now, we believe that a process should be started where the [financial] Installation could be one of the outcomes,” Timmermans said in Egypt. “But we also believe that the existing instruments we have could be immediately mobilized to support the most vulnerable.”

The European Union and several member states said on Wednesday that they are providing over a billion euros ($1.04 billion) of new and existing funds for adaptation programs in Africa. An EU spokesman said the bloc is providing 220 million euros of new funds, including 60 million euros for losses and damages.

“So you see we have tools, funds, mechanisms to provide financial assistance now and move it quickly.” Timmermans said.

Kaveh Guilanpour, vice president of international strategies at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, says there could be “good reasons” to postpone the creation of a new loss and damage fund at this year’s climate conference.

It is not clear if such a fund “will quickly result in the flow of new finance,” says Guilanpour. And world leaders are looking for ways to use limited public money to attract other forms of funding, she says, including from the private sector.

Guilanpour says that climate litigation coupled with better attribution science linking extreme weather events to climate change could expose fossil fuel companies to greater liability for the impacts of rising temperatures. That could provide a valuable source of funding for loss and damage claims.

“There is a will and there is a recognition [among industrialized countries] that more funding is needed for loss and damage,” says Guilanpour. “But I think there’s also a question about where and how the money will come from.”

Developing countries are also looking for safeguards to ensure they get what they were promised.

Even if world leaders decide this week to create a new loss and damage fund, “we’re still going to have the blurred lines and rebranding that you see many developed countries doing right now,” says Robertson of the Alliance of Small Island States. .

“We’re going to have to make sure we set some clear rules about this and what can count as funding for this cause,” says Robertson, “especially to hold them accountable.”