IBON International Climate Update 7 (Doha) Print
Friday, 07 December 2012 10:19

Doha, December 3, 2012


Studies confirm that loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change can no longer be avoided throughmitigation or adaptation. Multiple approaches should be undertaken, with some approaches having synergies with adaptation efforts, but with others requiring taking action through new arrangements and stand-alone approaches, which could be referred to as ‘beyond adaptation’ measures.


Following a proposal by the Alliance of SmallIsland States (AOSIS) in 2008, loss and damage was included on the agenda of the UNFCCC negotiations. The COP 16 in Cancun decided to establish a Work Program to address issues related to loss and damage in developing countries in a more comprehensive and actionable manner, with a mandate for the Subsidiary Body of Implementation (SBI) to do this. The draft decision adopted by COP 17 takesinto account the following thematic areas to enhance understanding of and expertise on loss and damage: (1) assessing the risk of loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change and current knowledge; (2) a range of approaches to address this, including impacts related to extreme weather events and slow onset events; and (c) the role of the Convention inenhancing the implementation of approaches to address loss and damage.




Four regional workshops under the guidance of SBI have been held to develop an understanding of the issues and challenges to aid the development of the work program. Loss and damage is a relatively new issue in the UNFCCC negotiations but it has progressed, which raises expectations of achieving some tangible outcome at COP 18. The expected deliverables of COP 18 on loss and damage are: (a) finalization of work program and comprehensive response to loss and damage; (b) establish a mechanism to assess diverse risks and approaches e; (c) consider theconcept of a “Multi-Window Mechanism” put forward by AOSIS as a basis for future negotiations. This Multi-Window Mechanism consists of three inter-dependent components, namely insurance, rehabilitation/ compensatory payments, and risk management. These play complementary roles and comprise the necessary components of an integrated approach to risk reduction, risk transfer and risk management efforts; and (e) the establishment of a 2nd phase work program to elaborate the functions and institutional structure of the international mechanism on loss and damage.


The negotiations at COP 18 is sidetracking towards being limited to knowledge generation and capacity building to collect and analyze data for assessing the risks - all to be implemented through an invitation to the Parties and relevant institutions outside of the Convention, as the US proposed. However, the key issues of addressing loss and damage such as the establishment of a compensatory mechanism in the context of the notion of ‘beyond adaptation ’and addressing the ‘residual losses’ caused by both sudden onset and slow onset events are missing.


In the context of slow progress and protracted discussion on loss and damage it is important to focus on at least on threemajor issues:


First, loss and damage resulting from slow onset events will be different from sudden onset events, and will cause more indirect losses over a longer time period. However, the current negotiation text gives little attention to slow onset events.


Second, the approaches discussed so far could be framed under three broad categories; a) risk reduction by comprehensive disaster risk management and adaptation; b) risk transfer by introducing insurance mechanisms, and; c) rehabilitation/compensatory mechanisms for unavoidable loss and damages. The ongoing negotiations at COP 18 seeks to identify options and designing and implementing country-driven risk assessment strategies and approaches, including mechanisms such as insurance, while the approaches under rehabilitation/compensatory are grossly disregarded, especially by the developed country Parties.


Approaches to reduce and address disaster risks are mostly sudden onset disaster-centric, with no approaches for addressing slow onset events like ocean acidification, salinity intrusion, loss of ecosystem services or loss of economic preferences etc. On the other hand, insurance will merely create business opportunities for the insurance companies.


Third, the G77/China pushed ‘to establish an international mechanism which complements existing arrangements for adaptation actions by developing country Parties’. However, the US, while agreeing that ‘all the impacts of climate change could not be addressed only by adaptation’, wants to put all loss and damage-related issues under the Adaptation Committee and National Adaptation Programs. The US also urged to make strong cases of ‘unavoidable’ and residual loss and damage of the impacts of climate change so that a stand-alone mechanism could be established.


This means that a different and stand-alone mechanism will be required, one that will be complementary to the national adaptation actions. But there is still the potential of unavoidable loss and damage, thus the need to explore ‘adaptation plus’ mechanisms, institutions and opportunities to address unavoidable loss and damage. (Md. Shamsuddoha, Center for Participatory Research and Development-CPRD, Dhaka,Bangladesh) ###

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