Developing Countries Have A Message For Global Climate Talks Polluters pay!

Heat waves are destroying olive orchards in Egypt. Fiji is losing entire villages to rising seas. One-third of Pakistan was flooded this summer, killing 1,700 people. They are among many underdeveloped countries facing irreparable climate change damage despite doing little to create it. They want recompense from wealthy nations that have used oil, gas and coal for decades, heating the earth with pollutants.

The idea that if you damage your neighbor’s property, you must pay restitution is universal, even in the Bible. Legally and practically, applying this notion to climate change has proved problematic. Rich nations like the U.S. and EU reject publicly compensating poorer countries for climate disasters, fearing infinite responsibility.

Sunday’s UN climate talks in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt will focus on loss and damage. Egypt, the host country and Pakistan, which leads 77 poor nations, placed the matter on the agenda. U.N. climate director Simon Stiell said including it on the agenda “bodes well” for a summit compromise.

This year, nearly 200 nations’ leaders are converging in Africa, where millions are at risk of hunger due to climate change-exacerbated drought. Science has allowed researchers to quantify the impact global warming plays in disasters, supporting the claim that rich nations which have released half of all heat-trapping gases since 1850 are responsible.

Pakistan’s foreign minister indicated in September that the country’s severe floods were aggravated by global warming. 33 million Pakistanis pay with their lives and livelihoods for larger countries’ industrialization.

Rich nations pledged $40 billion each year by 2025 to help poorer countries adapt to climate change by developing flood defenses. UN report: This is less than one-fifth of what developing nations require. This has prompted requests for separate loss and damage financing to deal with climate disaster fallout.

John Kerry, President Biden’s climate envoy, agreed to discuss financing for loss and damage, avoiding a nasty struggle over the summit’s agenda. That’s different from approving a new fund. The US is lagging on commitments to help poorer countries switch to cleaner energy or adapt to climate concerns by erecting sea walls.

Senate Democrats wanted $3.1 billion in climate money for 2022 but got $1 billion. As Republicans, who oppose climate aid, score gains in Tuesday’s midterms, further monies seem unlikely. Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley said the political groundwork isn’t there but the U.S. has a “moral responsibility” to repair loss and damage. Europeans fear that if they agree to a fund, the next U.S. president could reject it.

In semiarid Turkana, one of Kenya’s poorest regions, loss and devastation are real. Some scientists see a long-term drying trend after four years of intense drought. Most of Turkana’s 900,000 people are pastoralism and they’ve seen herds die from lack of water. Half the population starves.

Some herders traveled to Uganda or South Sudan for richer grazing, causing violence. Local officials have urgent plans to adapt: drill new wells to tap aquifers, create dams to hold rainwater and help people move to more resilient agriculture.

Money is difficult. Clement Nadio, Turkana County’s climate change director, claimed the whole plan may cost $200 million each year, double the county’s annual budget. This makes Turkana susceptible to the situation. This year’s food aid shortage leaves fewer resources for future droughts.

Mr. Nadio: “We must focus on saving lives and addressing malnutrition.” “But we also need to build people’s climate resilience.” Trying hard. We can’t do everything with our budget. Loss and damage might include extreme weather exacerbated by global warming, according to the UN.

Hurricane Dorian damaged homes, roads and an airport in the Bahamas in 2019 with 185 mph winds and 23-foot storm surges. One-quarter of the nation’s economy ($3.4 billion) was lost.

It may also involve slower-moving, harder-to-quantify losses, such as salt farmers in Bangladesh losing their jobs due to tidal surges and high rainfall, or tribes in Micronesia watching ancient burial places erode into the ocean.

“If we had cut emissions early enough, we wouldn’t have to adapt and if we had adapted early enough, we wouldn’t have loss and damage,” said a Barbados adviser. “Because we didn’t act early, we must do all three.”

Due to broad definitions, it’s difficult to evaluate money loss and harm. One study suggested developing nations could suffer $290 billion to $580 billion in yearly climate losses by 2030, despite adaptation measures. By 2050, it might reach $1.7 trillion.

Rich countries have suggested humanitarian aid or insurance could mitigate such tragedies. Developing nations disagree. Over half of U.N. calls for funding following natural catastrophes are unfulfilled. Rising waters swallow homes without insurance. Poorer nations must borrow to rebuild.

Without dedicated loss and damage money, climate impacts will plunge island states “into unsustainable debt, stopping progress and making us captive to random acts of generosity,” warned Alliance of Small Island States senior adviser Lia Nicholson.

Loss and damage conversations in Egypt will be difficult due to the money at risk. U.S. officials worry a new fund will be poorly defined and unwieldy. China, the world’s greatest emitter and fossil fuel exporters like Qatar and Saudi Arabia should also contribute, argue several wealthy countries.

That could spark a battle given these countries haven’t typically provided climate help. Developing countries and activists consider loss and destruction as a question of justice while affluent nations balk at taking responsibility.

Kerry said the U.S. which has burnt coal for energy since the 1880s and is the biggest historical emitter is responsible for climate change. In the 1980s, when governments acknowledged that oil, gas and coal were warming the earth, rising nations were burning fossil fuels, too.

“At the rate, we’re going, a couple of countries can overtake our historical emissions,” added Kerry. “We burnt coal and did this. Who burned coal, too? Every country else. “Are they forgiven?”

If nations agree in principle to create a loss and damage fund, they’ll face tough difficulties. How much help is needed? How to spend money on the neediest?

David Michael Terungwa leads Nigeria’s Global Initiative for Food Security and Ecosystem Preservation. He recently learned a friend’s home was flooded in Benue state which displaced 100,000 people and devastated 140,000 hectares of crops.

“I spoke to a young man who lost all his poultry in the floodwaters,” Mr. Terungwa remarked. If he had climate insurance, he could start a new life or business. When I think of loss and harm, I picture local farmers.

But he worries that governments may spend the money to rebuild in susceptible areas that will be destroyed by future calamities. Developing countries argue such questions shouldn’t delay action. The first stage is agreeing on loss and damaged money; details can come later. Still losing.

Hassan About Bakr, an agriculture professor at Cairo University who owns an olive grove outside the city, said recurrent heat waves had damaged his crops by denying them the winter “cooling hours” they need to thrive. This year, his olives were smaller than before and rejected at the market.

“Climate change isn’t in the future,” he remarked. It’s happening now. Mr. Abou Bakr cares beyond restitution. What about olive trees? he asked. “Save the trees”

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