Now is the time to focus on loss and damage from climate change
By Saleemul Huq
The year 2020 will be remembered as not just the year of the pandemic, but also for the experienced human-induced climate change impacts, making loss and damage from those impacts a reality. What this means is that every climate-related hazard such as heatwaves, droughts, floods and cyclones are no longer entirely natural events, but have become more severe because the global temperature increase has already gone above one degree Centigrade over the last century. A good example of this is the super cyclone Amphan that hit Bangladesh almost a year ago, which became a super cyclone while it was in the Bay of Bengal where the sea surface temperature was several degrees higher than normal due to human-induced climate change.
The first point to make is for developed countries to think of providing funding in solidarity with the victims of human-induced climate change around the world. The scientific community is now in an excellent position to calculate the attribution of the impacts to the fact that global temperature has risen over one degree Centigrade above pre-industrial levels due to the emissions of greenhouse gases over that time. In this way, we can shift the paradigm from liability and compensation to solidarity. Major philanthropic foundations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the newly established Earth Foundation set up by Jeff Bezos, should also look at ways in which they could provide funds to victims, especially in the poorest developing countries.
It needs to be asserted that dealing with the scientifically attributable negative impacts of climate change is now a high priority for the entire world. While there is an important role for the UNFCCC in COP26, particularly in developing the working modalities of the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage, it also has to be taken seriously by key developed countries' governments. In this respect, the upcoming meeting of the leaders of the G7 countries would be an excellent occasion to declare a willingness to provide funds for loss and damage (as distinct from funding adaptation). At the same time, both developing and developed countries need to set up networks of solidarity to provide financial assistance to the victims of climate change.
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