Today, 143 U.S. organizations sent a joint letter to Special Envoy for Climate, John Kerry calling on the U.S. government to commit to meaningful advances in addressing climate-related Loss and Damage, including an agreement to establish a Finance Facility under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), at COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh this November.
“It’s past time for the United States and other rich nations to acknowledge the terrible, unjust burden they are imposing on low-income, climate-vulnerable countries and fully own their responsibility to address this crisis,” said Rachel Cleetus, Policy Director, Climate and Energy Program, Union of Concerned Scientists. “We urge the Biden administration to commit to a clear pathway for dedicated and rapidly scaled-up funding for climate Loss and Damage at the upcoming climate talks in Egypt.”
Calling the U.S.’s past negotiating posture on Loss and Damage “recalcitrant” and “a major obstacle to meeting the urgent needs of climate-vulnerable countries,” the letter urges the U.S. to stop blocking progress on the issue and to work constructively to advance an agreement to establish a Finance Facility. News reports indicate that the U.S. has decided to support formal negotiations on the issue.
“The U.S. acknowledgment of the need to discuss Loss and Damage financing is welcome,” said Brandon Wu, Director of Policy & Campaigns at ActionAid USA. “But the discussion is one thing, and the actual provision of money is another. The Biden administration must support arrangements for the direct funding of Loss and Damage needs in developing countries. Anything less is just saying nice things while still doing nothing for countless frontline communities facing climate catastrophe.”
“Robust public, grants-based financing for Loss and Damage is a matter of justice and repair. The outsized role the U.S. has played in perpetuating the climate crisis demands that we support and resource those already experiencing devastating climate impacts,” said Mara Dolan, Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO). “We reject attempts to use Loss and Damage conversations to entrench the wealth and exploitation of colonial financial institutions, private financial actors, and rich nations, and urge the U.S. at COP27 to support public, grants-based finance that centers resource redistribution to frontline communities & countries.”
Last year at the UN climate talks, COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, the G77+China put a proposal on the table to create a Loss and Damage finance facility to help developing nations respond to the losses and damages of climate change that they did not cause. The facility would serve as a host for funds from historically responsible, major emitters that caused the climate crisis for vulnerable nations to help their populations recover from floods, fires, sea level rise, and more extreme weather events. A finance facility was not approved at COP26. Instead, it was decided that the nations would continue to talk about the idea through the Glasgow Dialogue.
One of the major reasons the financial facility was rejected at COP26 and placed into a dialogue for further conversation was because of resistance from the United States, European Union, and other rich nations. The U.S. has consistently blocked progress on international agreements to address Loss and Damage in a real way for years.
“The United States, with Special Envoy Kerry leading the charge, has long attempted to put off paying an enormous multi-decade debt it owes low-income countries. The U.S. can claim no mantle as a climate champion if it’s not willing to pay its climate debt in full,” Rachel Rose Jackson, Director of Climate Research & Policy at Corporate Accountability. “Mr. Kerry says the cost is too high, even for the wealthiest country in the world? Then, instead of abandoning those most exposed by the global crisis, the U.S. should hold liable the Big Polluters–the Exxons, the Totals, the Shells, the BPs, the Kochs instead of doing their bidding.”
This is the first time this large coalition of U.S. Organizations has come together to call out U.S. inaction on Loss and Damage. The effort was led by ActionAid USA, Corporate Accountability, Friends of the Earth U.S., Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, Women’s Environment and Development Organization, Taproot Earth, and Oxfam America.