Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt: A decision at COP27 to establish a loss and damage fund for communities living on the frontlines of climate disasters has been hailed a victory by climate justice organization ActionAid.
After three decades of climate negotiations, the issue of loss and damage was set firmly on the agenda at this year’s UN climate talks in Egypt. With recognition from the big polluting countries, such as the US, UK and EU, that funding to help communities rebuild and recover in the aftermath of climate disasters was urgently needed.
Two weeks of negotiations resulted in an agreement between countries to establish a loss and damage fund, with a transitional committee being set up to work out the finer details of who will be eligible to receive funds, who will pay, and how much money there will be.
Brandon Wu, Director of Policy and Campaigns said: “After a year driven by climate disasters, we came to COP27 with one clear message: we must establish a fund for loss and damage and we are not leaving without one. This decision is a huge step forward for vulnerable communities who are already experiencing the disasters from a climate crisis they did not cause. Now begins the hard work to make sure this fund has the needed money and set up to be effective under the UNFCCC. The work this year and those following will be critical in seeing the possibilities decided today actually realized.”
Teresa Anderson, Global Lead on Climate Justice at ActionAid International, said: “After so many years of calling for the UN to agree to establish a fund to help countries being pushed deeper into poverty, this is a real pinch-me moment. We can give credit to the collective pressure from civil society, combined with unprecedented unity among developing countries, for forcing rich countries to finally say “Yes – we are in this together”.
“This loss and damage fund is long overdue, and it’s truly shocking that it has taken rich countries so long to finally agree to help those harmed by climate impacts. For people on the front lines of the climate crisis, this offers hope that there will be a fund to help them recover and rebuild in the aftermath of disasters. There are still battles ahead to address key unanswered questions, but for now this is a crucial starting point.
“But the polluters have been let off the hook with COP27’s weak language on fossil fuels. Climate-vulnerable communities who have been given hope through the establishing of a loss and damage fund are still being harmed by the actions of big polluters, and the underlying cause of the climate crisis has not been addressed.”
The fund will be support with recovery in the aftermath of destructive climate impacts caused by both sudden-onset disasters like cyclones and floods or slow-onset impacts like drought or desertification. It will ensure farmers can be compensated if they lose their livelihoods, homes can be rebuilt and traditions saved.
This year, climate emergencies have destroyed the lives and livelihoods of people living in the Global South on a scale that has not been witnessed before, with endless droughts, heatwaves, wildfires, flooding, and hurricanes. In East Africa, crops have failed, livestock have died, and water sources have dried up after five failed rainy seasons.
Susan Otieno, Executive Director at ActionAid Kenya, said: “There were high hopes that COP27 would deliver for Africa – and on the issue of loss and damage it has. For the millions of people across East Africa who are at risk of starvation after endless drought; for the girls who are being taken out of school to walk miles for water; and for the families in Nigeria who have been displaced from their homes from extreme flooding, they will now know that the world stands in solidarity with them.
“All of these people have done the least to cause climate change but they are paying the highest price. But this is only the first step, and the negotiations next year must address the many questions still hanging on how it will work in practice.”
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