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An old water pump sits partially submerged under Lake Turkana. The once-working pump has been engulfed by the flooding of the Lake, flooding attributed to both climate change and human activities up river. Photo: Trócaire

Climate action

Loss and Damage agreement an important step after decades of struggle by developing countries

A decision text on Loss and Damage which has been approved at the opening plenary of COP28 is a welcome further step towards the Loss and Damage fund after decades of struggle by developing countries, according to Irish NGO Trócaire. It shows that progress on Loss and Damage is a critical marker for success at COP.

While acknowledging the work in getting to a compromise text, the resulting Loss and Damage Fund is not the independent fund envisaged by Trócaire and wider civil society which would ensure delivery of climate justice for those who need it.  The challenge remains to achieve a fund that meets the needs of those on the frontlines of the climate crisis and to do this the following additional steps must be taken:

  • Richer countries must move to resource the fund at scale, based on their historical responsibility for emissions that caused the climate crisis. Countries, including Ireland, need to make significant pledges during this COP that are additional to existing climate finance promises and still unmet ODA ambitions.
  • Richer countries should have an obligation to pay their fair share into this fund based on historical emissions. As it stands they are urged to pay into the fund and it is important that they meet this responsibility.
  • The resourcing of the Loss and Damage Fund must be public and grant based and should not push developing countries into further debt. Although not in the decision text it will be vital that the fund is underpinned by human rights.

Siobhan Curran, Trócaire’s Head of Policy and Advocacy, said:

“We are highly sceptical of the World Bank as an interim host, it will be crucial that the fund operates in a way that is accessible to communities who need it in a timely manner.

“A Loss and Damage fund that delivers for communities who are facing the worst impacts of climate change is critical. In Somalia, after experiencing the worst drought in 40 years, communities are now dealing with excessive rainfall and related flooding which has submerged farmland, with an estimated 1.5 million hectares, or 21% of the island of Ireland affected. They should not be paying the price for the climate crisis.

“It is estimated that Ireland produces nearly 54 times higher emissions than Somalia, yet communities in Somalia are paying the price for climate inaction.

“In addition to grant-based funding, polluting corporations must pay into this fund – fossil fuel companies who have profited from climate breakdown must now pay for the damage.

“We have seen the devastating impacts of climate breakdown this year from Cyclone Freddy in Malawi as well which resulted in over 650,000 people being displaced, and over 1,000 people were killed. The fund needs to operate at an appropriate size and scale to deal with the realities of loss and damage being experienced in the Global South. This means richer countries stepping up and paying their fair share. The fund cannot be an empty shell.

“It will also be important that Loss and Damage is addressed in other negotiations at COP, particularly discussions of a New Quantified Collective Goal on climate finance.”

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