React Slow, Lose More

To truly relieve climate change damage in the future, status quo relief measures must change. On Monday, November 13, 2017, the START Network hosted an event to precisely describe how to do so. In the “Risk Informed Early Warning & Early Action for Less L&D in Drought Contexts and Forest Fires,” speakers Michael Kühn, Matthias Ahmling, and Emily Montier discuss parametric insurance measures and full paradigm shifts on how we approach loss and damage. (Parametric insurance is different from traditional insurance measures in that the pay out occurs through a triggering event. Traditional insurance measures pay out once damage assessments of the triggering event occur.)

Climate change damage will continue to worsen as climate change induced extreme weather events (like hurricanes) occur with more and more frequency. Today, approximately 27 billion dollars are spent to alleviate climate damage in vulnerable countries. As damages increase, humanitarian charity will likely stagnate and be unable to provide help to the needy. To prevent this, fundraising for humanitarian aid must shift from being a reactive measure to a proactive measure.

Reactive measures occur when extreme weather events provoke humanitarian giving. Rather than wait for extreme weather events, proactive measures provide means to immediately react to climate change damage. This is accomplished through risk sharing pools or insurance schemes. This is beneficial because vulnerable countries no longer have to wait for funds to be raised to receive aid. An example of this action is the NGO, START Network, which provides aid through its pooled funds.

The START Network is a collaborative NGO made up of “42 national and international aid agencies from five continents.” They aim to “deliver effective aid” by “harnessing the power and knowledge of the network to make faster and better decisions to help people affected by crises.” Their mission statement highlights their commitment to early action measures. (Early action measures are those taken using pools of money prepared in advance of climate change damages – which are gathered via proactive measures). As climate change causes more predictable extreme weather events, the international community should look to loss and damage aid and compensation through a proactive rather than reactive lens.