Thursday, August 30, 2012

Climate Conversations - Small island states need action on climate loss and damage

International climate change negotiations have long been focused on mitigation and adaptation - that is, on reducing the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for the growing climate crisis and helping vulnerable communities adapt to its impacts.

But with no end to emissions in sight, and only scant progress made towards building resilience, negotiators have been forced to confront a troubling new reality: what happens when mitigation and adaption efforts fall short?

Not only does the most recent global onslaught of droughts, floods and famines offer a glimpse of what the future may hold; it underscores that climate change is especially devastating for countries that lack the resources needed to prepare and respond to environmental disasters.

EA submission by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) from the earliest days of the talks anticipated this dilemma, and sought to address it by creating a system that would help poor and vulnerable countries manage climate-related impacts.

Our proposal is referenced in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and draws on numerous principles of international law, including the responsibility of a state, polluter pays, common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, intergenerational equity, trans-boundary harm and others.

At the 17th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC last year in Durban, negotiators were able to reach consensus on key elements of a work programme that called for the implementation of approaches to “address loss and damage associated with climate change impacts in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change and to make recommendations on loss and damage to the Conference of the Parties for its consideration at its 18th session”.

Discussions continue at the expert level, most recently prior to the start of the latest round of climate talks in Bangkok this week. The final meeting, which will focus on small-island developing states, will take place in Barbados in October.

The proposal has received support from the Least Developed Country and Africa groupings as well as a growing number of developed country partners. While loss and damage is not on the agenda for the additional negotiating session here, it will undoubtedly come up as parties prepare for a broader conversation at COP 18 in Doha at the end of the year. More