Thursday, November 10, 2022

Musings from Priyadarshini Karve: #COP27: Day 3

 #COP27: Day 3

9 November 2022 was officially 'Finance Day'. The negotiators discussed finance for mitigation, adaptation and also for 'loss and damage'. The side events of the day were also focused on the theme of finance. 

As we entered the venue we came across an interesting protest displaying a dinosaur and a Pok√©mon! A number of young activists were speaking on how climate change induced disasters are affecting their countries. The demand of this protest was 'Stop Funding Fossil Fuels'. 

Stop Funding Fossil Fuels! 

I attended two side events - both organised by members of Climate Action Network (CAN) and focused on 'Adaptation' and 'Loss and Damage'. 

I am going to digress a bit and try to explain these terms. 

When it comes to climate action, the media and public discourse is generally focused on 'Mitigation' - reducing greenhouse gas emissions going into the atmosphere. This is important for slowing down future warming of planet earth. This requires moving away from fossil fuel use and change our land use pattern. Most of the climate finance is currently focused on this aspect. 

However there is also 'Adaptation'. The planet is already about 1.1 deg C warmer than the preindustrial era. This has changed the weather patterns and ecosystems around the world permanently. People now have to change their ways and means of life in order to deal with the changes. Some of the challenges may be solved by behavioural change (for example - change the timing of outdoor work to deal with excessively hot summers) but some require use of technology (for example - rainwater harvesting and storage for better water security in spite of the erratic rainfall). Financing for adaptation has been a contentious issue at COPs for a long time. Developed countries have promised big money but actually provided very little. 

A third front on climate action now is 'Loss and Damage'. As global average temperature has creeped up over the last few decades, many communities across the globe are facing an existential crisis (for example - the Maldives will be totally submerged in a decade or so even if all GHG emissions drop to zero today). As sea levels rise, coastal communities lose their lands and homes and therefore their way of life, culture and traditions. They are getting uprooted and displaced. As certain parts of the world are repeatedly hit by cyclones, people are losing lives and livelihoods. For a long time, the developed countries have tried to argue that dealing with such situations also should be considered 'Adaptation' (and therefore no separate funding is needed for this). But the developing countries have strongly argued that 'Loss and Damage' is happening because both 'Mitigation' and 'Adaptation' are failing. Some countries need urgent help while we strengthen the efforts on Mitigation and Adaptation. Finally, this year financing for 'Loss and Damage' is being discussed. The news is that the countries have agreed to put in place a mechanism for this 'no later than 2024'. 

The first side event in the morning was by CANSA (CAN South Asia) of which INECC is a member. There were presentations from Nepal and Bangladesh talking about how localised and community-centric action with co-operation and collaboration of government is helping these two highly affected countries adapt better and thereby minimise loss and damage. This exactly resonated with our own 'LDC for NDC' concept. Both the presentations also strongly highlighted the importance of the support of government machinery from local to national for more effective adaptation at the local level. 

The final speaker of the event was a Minister from Pakistan. Pakistan is proving to be the showcase of 'Loss and Damage' in this COP. As the minister said - the country suffered an extremely hot summer followed by unprecedented and devastating floods during the monsoon season, and now it is entering what is likely to be an extremely cold winter! Climate change is really hammering them hard from all sides! It is no wonder therefore that the Pakistan pavilion has a caption 'Lost and Damaged' prominently on display. 

One important point that was made in this side event was around the nature of finance. Even though it is a moral obligation of the developed world to help the developing world deal with climate change, 70% of the climate finance available (of all categories) is in the form of debt and that too at very high interest rates! Strong arguments are therefore being made on all fronts that existing debts be written off and future finance not have a 'debt' component. One slide that presented eye opening statistics in this context is what you can see below. 

The Climate Debt Trap

The second side event was organised by CAN and a few collaborators. Its focus was 'Loss and Damage'. It had presentations from Malawi in Africa and Bangladesh. There were also presentations about how women are more affected than men when it comes to loss and damage. All in all there were very moving presentations starkly highlighting the plight of the vulnerable communities. One important point made was that while a lot of funding pours in for disaster relief when a tragedy strikes, not much finance is available for preventive or preparatory measures. It is hoped that the 'Loss and Damage' funding will address this gap. 

As my colleague Pournima pointed out - often in the discussion on loss and damage, the communities come across as helpless and clueless people doing nothing as disasters creep on them. But the ground reality is that communities can exhibit resilience and resourcefulness. They are not totally without any agency of their own! They of course need a helping hand - in the form of finance as well as in the form of knowledge and data. 

The loss and damage finance facility needs to focus on empowering communities to protect and rescue themselves in a sustainable way. Our 'LDC for NDC' process is showcasing some of the success stories of this approach. 

Day 2 Blog

Day 1 Blog

Priyadarshini Karve
Director, Samuchit Enviro Tech
Convener, Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change (INECC)

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