‘Loss and damage’ funding a justified demand

The low-income nations, which have done the least to cause climate change, often bear the brunt of the disastrous consequences of global warming ranging from floods, hurricanes to sea-level rises. The dire situation that many developing countries have found themselves in as a result of a warmer world has prompted them to call for the establishment of a fund through which the rich countries most responsible for climate change compensate the hardest-hit nations for their "loss and damage".

Yet as the two-week COP 27 United Nations climate conference, being held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, nears its half-way point, little progress has been made over the question of whether and how the most vulnerable nations should be compensated. European Union negotiator Jacob Werksman said EU members were not ready to agree on a single funding solution, although he expressed the hope COP 27 would achieve more than just scheduling further talks on climate compensation.

The United States and the EU have long resisted calls for a new fund for fear of spiraling liability. This, in addition to difficulties associated with how "loss and damage" are to be assessed, has made it almost impossible for any consensus to be reached on a special compensation fund at COP 27.

US President Joe Biden vowed at the climate summit on Friday that the US was on track to slash its carbon emissions, urging all nations to ramp up their own efforts to avert catastrophic global warming. Yet, in his speech, he fell short of addressing the "loss and damage" mechanism idea. The indifference toward the justified demand of so many developing countries is disappointing. Especially since many are linking the success of the climate summit with the outcome on the funding mechanism.

Indeed, the rich countries have so often failed to live up to the expectations of the developing nations. Little progress has been made so far even on the technical details of how to deliver on deals and pledges already made in previous years. For example, wealthy nations have largely failed to fully deliver on the $100 billion promised annually for climate adaptation. Last year's transfer came to only about $83 billion, mostly in the form of loans.

Forecasts from the Institute for Economics and Peace predict that 1.2 billion people could be displaced globally by 2050 due to climate change and natural disasters. The developed countries, which are mainly responsible for historical emissions, have a moral obligation to extend a helping hand to the victims of climate change through a compensation fund.

This is a matter of climate justice.