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Top line: Loss and damage now appears prominently throughout the draft Paris Rulebook, a great success for loss and damage advocates. “For a long time it was the missing piece,” said Julie-Ann Richards from Climate Action Network International. Now, she says, “it’s everywhere it needs to be.”

Background:  Just these past few weeks, extreme weather events have ravaged countries. Hundreds died in what was deemed the worst disaster in a century of Kerala’s history, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Fiji, and a typhoon in Japan left thousands stranded.

The destruction countries experience from disasters such as rising sea levels, flooding, or cyclones is termed “loss and damage” in climate policy. Often, developing countries are the ones that are hardest hit.

While a key topic, it’s often pigeon-holed in UN climate talks and pushed to the side.

Choi Being Yeeting, Kiribati Project Coordinator for Global Climate Change Alliance – Pacific Small Island States. 
Extreme weather events are caused by natural forces, but more and more are being amplified by climate change. In the UN Climate talks, most countries try to deal with the impacts of through solid adaptation plans. This includes the island nation of Kiribati, where Choi Being Yeeting notes they are preparing for “the worst case scenario. But in light of that, we’re still fighting. There’s still hope in our country, there’s a government, there’s people. We’re going to try build resilience.”

In Bangkok: As in previous negotiations, countries remain divided on loss and damage in Bangkok. Despite featuring prominently in Article 8 of the Paris Agreement, loss and damage is not being separately discussed in this intersessional.

For the first time, however, the term now is now embedded and incorporated in various elements in the 307-page draft text.

“[It’s in] all the elements—global stocktake, finance, technology. For a long time [loss and damage] was the missing piece,” said Julie-Ann Richards from Climate Action Network International. Now, she says, “it’s everywhere it needs to be.”

However, just because the term appears in the text, doesn’t mean that it’s a permanent addition. The term is bracketed all across the text, meaning that there is potential for it to be changed.

“I think that demonstrates that developed countries really don’t want it,” said Richards. “It’s falling behind.”

Mid-week in negotiations, Timor-Leste put forward an idea for Loss and Damage to be discussed as a standalone item. This meant it would receive its own negotiating space. However, the Australian, US, and EU delegations spoke against having time to discuss the issue.

Julie-Ann Richards – Photos by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth

 

According to Richards, many developed countries say that having the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM) is enough.

“But that’s not good enough,” she says. “There’s a reason that they agreed on Article 8. Not only because loss and damage is important, but also because loss and damage is so important to vulnerable countries who insisted on it as part of the balance of the Paris Agreement.”

Moving Forward: Bert Van Loon of the EU delegation told Climate Tracker that the EU recognised it was an important topic for least developed countries. ““There is clarity on where developing countries want to see loss and damage reflected, in articles four, five, and six,” he said.

“I think loss and damage will be a key issue to be resolved in Katowice,” said Van Loon.

Lily Jamaludin

About Lily Jamaludin

Lily Jamaludin is a Malaysian writer and researcher. Previously, she helped design education opportunities for stateless youth in Borneo, and assisted in eviction-prevention initiatives in the Bronx. She’s excited to mobilise more young writers from developing countries to influence national debate around climate change.