Push for climate-damage fund set to fall flat at UN talks

  • In US
  • 2019-12-11 17:49:46Z
  • By Reuters

By Megan Rowling

MADRID, Dec 11 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - From dying coral reefs to damaged wells and crops, island nations are experiencing severe harm from extreme weather and rising seas - but U.N. climate talks in Madrid are unlikely to deliver on demands for a new fund to help them.

Hussain Rasheed Hassan, environment minister of the low-lying Maldives, said that if the corals died around his Indian Ocean atoll country due to warming and acidifying seas, there would be nothing left to defend the land from voracious waves.

"Our people are paying a huge cost because some countries are dumping a huge amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and the world's oceans are getting warmer," he said.

To keep out tidal waves and flooding, the Maldives will have to pay for sea walls and other protective measures, he said. For that, it will need to borrow money from banks, and pay interest.

Even though Hassan's country has produced only a tiny fraction of the fossil fuel emissions driving climate change, "we have to beg some of these (big) emitters to provide money for us. Is that fair? Really, I don't think so," he told an event led by atoll states on the sidelines of the talks.

Other vulnerable countries, including African nations experiencing more intense droughts and floods, have pushed for concrete progress at the talks on providing fresh funding to help them deal with disasters and longer-term damage linked to global warming.

As the two-week negotiations began in early December, aid groups called for a financing facility to be set up in Madrid for that purpose.

But a text that is the basis for final negotiations among ministers this week does not include such a facility.

Blocked on that, developing countries have tabled an option for existing funds established under the U.N. negotiations - including the Green Climate Fund - to provide faster access to new money to help them address "slow onset events, comprehensive risk management, human mobility and non-economic losses".

That means, for example, financial assistance to relocate coastal dwellers whose homes are imperilled by crumbling shores and flooding, or farmers whose land has dried and degraded so much it can no longer sustain them.

Harjeet Singh, global lead on climate change policy for charity ActionAid International, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation the best that could be hoped for now in Madrid was the creation of an expert group to look into potential new sources of finance.

As well, a "Santiago Network on Addressing Loss and Damage" may be established, he said.

That could bring together U.N. agencies, aid groups and others to work jointly to support climate-hit parts of the world such as Mozambique, an African nation still reeling after being battered by two powerful cyclones earlier this year.

"Outside this room, it is (climate) chaos," Singh said. Within the negotiations, "we are not matching up to, or catching up with reality", he added.

On Wednesday, about 200 climate activists - many young and from developing nations - were kicked out of the talks venue for trying to stage an unauthorised protest close to one of the main halls.

They said they wanted rich countries "to step up, pay up".

"Future generations of impacted nations need you to pay up: climate reparations," they sang.


The talks on how to cope with growing losses and damage from climate change have also been upset by an attempt by the United States to insert a waiver into the main decision that will come out of the Madrid conference.

It would say that the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM), established in 2013 to look at ways to tackle losses, does not provide any basis for "liability or compensation".

That language exists in regard to how the 2015 Paris Agreement is implemented, but the United States - which plans to leave the accord - wants to broaden its scope to the overarching U.N. climate change convention.

Washington is also trying to retain its right to a seat on the WIM's committee, despite its planned exit from the Paris deal, according to an informal proposal seen by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The United States and some other developed countries argue financial needs created by climate damage could and should be met by existing climate funds and insurance - but the draft text language they have submitted on that is unspecific about how.

"We may not agree with all of the proposals made at this meeting but we are fully engaged," said a U.S. official at the talks, speaking on the loss and damage discussions.

Sven Harmeling, global policy lead on climate change for charity CARE International, said at-risk people were relying on leaders in Madrid to mobilise "new and additional finance" to protect them from climate loss and damage.

The humanitarian agency called on the European Union, Canada, Norway and others "to stand by the vulnerable and resist pressure by those seeking to obstruct the prospect of support, such as the United States". (Reporting by Megan Rowling @meganrowling; editing by Laurie Goering. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking and property rights. Visit http://news.trust.org/climate)


More Related News

Climate crisis could justify asylum claims: UN committee
Climate crisis could justify asylum claims: UN committee

Governments that send refugees back to countries severely affected by climate change could be in breach of their human rights obligations, a UN committee said on Monday. The independent experts on the Human Rights Committee issued a non-binding but closely watched ruling in a case brought by Ioane Teitiota from the Pacific island nation of Kiribati. Several Pacific island nations including Kiribati are seen as among the most vulnerable in the world to climate change as they are just a few metres above sea level.

Fires set stage for irreversible forest losses in Australia
Fires set stage for irreversible forest losses in Australia
  • World
  • 2020-01-20 05:34:20Z

Australia's forests are burning at a rate unmatched in modern times and scientists say the landscape is being permanently altered as a warming climate brings profound changes to the island continent. Heat waves and drought have fueled bigger and more frequent fires in parts of Australia, so far this season torching some 40,000 square miles (104,000 square kilometers), an area about as big as Ohio. Before the recent wildfires, ecologists divided up Australia's native vegetation into two categories: fire-adapted landscapes that burn periodically, and those that don't burn.

Davos chief welcomes views of Trump, Greta Thunberg at forum
Davos chief welcomes views of Trump, Greta Thunberg at forum

The head of the World Economic Forum says it's "reassuring" that U.S. President Donald Trump and climate activist Greta Thunberg will both return to its annual meeting in Davos this year, noting that concerns about the environment will be a key topic. WEF founder Klaus Schwab sees vast changes in business, society and culture over the 50 years since he created the yearly gathering in the Swiss Alps, which initially was a forum for business leaders but now is a key stop for policymakers and activists as well. Following another year of extreme heat, out-of-control wildfires and melting ice sheets, environmental issues are considered to be the top five long-term risks confronting the...

Casemiro scores 2 as Madrid beats Sevilla 2-1
Casemiro scores 2 as Madrid beats Sevilla 2-1

Defensive specialist Casemiro scored two goals to give Real Madrid a 2-1 home win over Sevilla in the Spanish league on Saturday. The victory lifted Madrid into the lead and three points ahead of second-place Barcelona before the defending champions host Granada on Sunday. Barcelona holds the tiebreaker

Thousands gather for Women
Thousands gather for Women's March rallies across the US
  • World
  • 2020-01-18 18:36:36Z

Hundred showed up in New York City and thousands in Washington, D.C. for the rallies, which aim to harness the political power of women, although crowds were noticeably smaller than in previous years. The first marches in 2017 drew hundreds of thousands of people to rallies in cities across the country on the day after President Donald Trump was inaugurated.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: US