Following the Growth of Loss & Damage through the First Week of COP22

http://scroll.in/article/811797/the-loss-and-damage-caused-by-climate-change-and-what-we-can-do-about-itLoss and damage (L&D) has come a long way since the Bali Action Plan and the Cancun Agreements. Last year at COP21, L&D received its own article under the Paris Agreement, Article 8. But what happens next? For the first week of COP22, L&D was on the agenda under SBI agenda item 11 and SBSTA agenda item 5, so the chairs of both subsidiary bodies created a joint informal consultation to discuss the following two issues. First, the informal consultation was tasked with consider the recommendations in the WIM Executive Committee’s (Excom’s) 2016 Report, especially as it relates to its framework proposal for its five-year workplan. Second, the parties at the informal were asked to undertake the review of the WIM, as mandated by the mechanism’s creation in 2/CP.19.

Since the beginning of the week, the parties have been working toward agreements on both agenda items. Led by Beth Lavender of Canada and Alf Willis of South Africa, the parties are beginning to come to agreements on each of their two agenda items. One agreement the parties came to was there needed to be two separate decisions on each agenda item to present to the subsidiary bodies. For the Excom Report, the co-facilitators circulated draft conclusions on Wednesday to begin discussions on the topic. One sticking point on these conclusions was whether the decisions should invite parties to make submissions on the financial placeholder in the five-year workplan framework from the Excom Report.

The issue of financial support for L&D is still an issue with all parties involved in this process. When the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) first brought up the concept of L&D in 1991, its goal was to create a compensation fund in order to compensate those countries who would be harmed by sea-level rise from climate change. From this point on, the idea of compensation has been hotly contested, especially by developed countries like the United States. This idea was also debated in Paris, but ultimately, the parties agreed that Article 8 did not “involve or provide a basis for any liability compensation.” Despite this, many developing countries still need financial support from the developed world to deal with L&D.

Late Friday night, the co-facilitators and the parties issued a second version of the draft conclusions text. This version of the text included a paragraph specifically asking parties to make submissions on the various placeholders in the framework workplan, including finance. Presumably, this new text signifies a compromise between the parties and that this text will be approved and sent to the subsidiary bodies for approval by the COP.

On the second agenda item, the parties were still discussing how and when they should conduct the review. Some believed that the review of the WIM needed to be completed by the end of COP22, while others thought that the parties needed time for party submissions on various issues before the review could conclude so the actually review should not be finalized until COP23. In order to help bridge this gap, the co-facilitators drafted questions with inputs from the parties and these questions would help guide the review process. The parties have yet to come to an agreement on the issues, but they need to do so before the COP closes for the weekend on Saturday night.

Reviewing the WIM is important, especially following questions in Paris as to whether the WIM was going to continue to be the L&D mechanism under the Paris Agreement. Because the parties decided to continue the mechanism, the review is especially important to ensure it performs all of its mandated functions from the past as well as to ensure that it is well-equipped to perform its future duties under the Paris Agreement.

Approving the Excom Report is also important for the future of the WIM under the Paris Agreement because it includes approving and strengthening the WIM’s five-year workplan, which dictates how the WIM will operate moving forward. Inviting party submissions on financial matters may seem like a small issue but there is no financial mandate for L&D in the Paris Agreement, making any information about financial support extremely important for developing countries. L&D is not a remote issue to be addressed in the future. The effects of L&D are affecting countries now. The strides made in the first week at COP22 may seem small when compared to the growth witnessed in Paris, but these developments are extremely important to ensure that the WIM is adequately equipped to address L&D now and in the future.


Human Mobility in the Face of Climate Change

http://coastalbangladesh.com/english/65#.WCVz8_krJEYHuman mobility in the face of climate change is an issue that is closely linked to Loss and Damage (L&D). Under Article 8 of the Paris Agreement, L&D includes extreme weather events as well as slow-onset events. Both extreme weather and slow-onset events could necessitate human mobility or displacement, whether it be rising sea levels displacing coastal communities and entire islands or increasing hurricane and tsunami threats that cause communities to move inland.

In the face of these threats, the COP has taken action. At the end of COP21, decision 1/CP.21 requested that the Executive Committee of the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) for L&D create a task force on displacement “to develop recommendations for integrated approaches to avert, minimize and address displacement related to the adverse impacts of climate change.” Since the COP issued this decision last December, the Executive Committee (Excom) of the WIM has published its 2016 Report to give an update on its progress over the last year, including information on the displacement task force. In the report, the Excom stated that it initiated the task force at its latest meeting and requested that the task force deliver its findings on displacement by COP24.

Keeping in line with this increasing focus on human mobility and displacement due to climate change, Thursday featured three side events on this topic. The first event discussed human mobility in the context of organizations and frameworks outside of the UNFCCC and in some instances, how those organizations and frameworks intersect with mechanisms under the UNFCCC. For example, Dina Ionesco with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) discussed a technical meeting and workshop on human mobility that occurred recently in Casablanca, Morocco, with the WIM in order to discuss capacity building, and action and implementation under the WIM. The WIM continues the call for expert advice from UN organizations and other expert bodies on the topic as part of action area six in its initial two-year workplan, further emphasizing the importance of human mobility and displacement under the WIM.

Another side event focused on the impact and importance of human mobility and displacement in especially vulnerable countries with a focus on a rights-based approach to displacement. This side event featured speakers from APMDD, COAST Trust, LDC Watch, and Friends of the Earth Africa and included discussions on what types of terminology is appropriate—migration or displacement—when discussing human mobility and climate change. Terminology in the context is important because they have set definitions in international law and these definitions don’t always conform with the context under which some human mobility occurs.

The final event from yesterday focused on cultural and heritage losses associated with human mobility and displacement. This event grounded the discussion in the noneconomic loss felt by many communities who voluntarily migrate or who are forced to leave their home behind in the face of repeated natural disasters or rising sea levels. Noneconomic losses are often overlooked when discussing human mobility because it’s difficult to assess these losses when conducting a cost-benefit analysis on whether to uproot communities. However, determining noneconomic losses, like loss of culture, are important to ensure any voluntary migrations are successful. The impacts are real and felt by all of the community members who are forced to leave their homes and sometimes livelihoods behind. Attending to and understanding these communities’ cultural wellbeing in addition to their physical wellbeing is a vital part of the conversation when discussing human mobility and displacement. With the new task force on displacement under the WIM, the above concerns should be taken into account in order to ensure the success of the program in understanding the full range of issues associated with human mobility and displacement due to climate change.


UN University Announces Nepal Loss & Damage Case Study

http://www.circleofblue.org/2014/world/nepal-landslide-hydropower/

Yesterday, the United Nations University announced a case study on loss and damage (L&D) that it conducted in Nepal following the 2014 landslide. Overall, the landslides had a devastating effect on the community at large, blocking a highway, causing power outages, and killing more than 150 people; however, this study focused less on the overall effects and more on the individual community members’ coping mechanisms for the L&D caused before and after the landslide. The increased focus on lesser-known, community-level techniques is a great opportunity for governments and international groups to learn about smaller-scale L&D solutions.

The panel, moderated by David Hewitt from UN Univeristy, included two presenters from UN University, Dr. Kees van der Geest and Dr. Robert Oaks, as well as Raju Pandit Chetri, who works for Nepal’s Climate Change Council. To begin the announcement, Dr. Geest presented on the study and emphasized that the goal of the study was to show the effects of L&D on the ground. In the study, researchers gathered evidence on what types of measures the landslide victims implemented before the landslide to prevent L&D as well as what the victims did after the landslide to restore their lives. Overall, the study found that the victims employed more reactionary efforts to clean up after the L&D but that more could be done to prevent and reduce L&D but these efforts lack “people-centered strategies.” Dr. Geest ended his presentation on the study by emphasizing that many people implement measures on the ground to address L&D but that these measures are not widely discussed. Perhaps this study can help shift the focus to these on-the-ground measures and bring them to the forefront as viable L&D mechanisms.

Following Dr. Geest’s description of the study, Chetri spoke about the study’s impact on Nepal. He first explained how there are limited scientific studies available in Nepal that help demonstrate the country’s need to go beyond adaptation measures to address L&D and this study helps to fill this void. Chetri also emphasized that events like this are likely to increase with changing and unpredictable weather patterns in the face of climate change, which makes studies like this more important in order to show countries like Nepal how to react to these types of events in the future. In the question and answer portion of the conference, the moderator asked Chetri about the link between academic studies like this case study and on the ground projects. Chetri explained that negotiations on L&D often seem abstract but that these studies demonstrate in a tangible way that L&D is happening now—not just in the future. Additionally, he explained that these studies direct governments on what types of policies and programs to put in place in order to reduce on-the-ground effects, further underscoring the study’s importance to on-the-ground application of L&D mechanisms.

The final presenter, Dr. Oaks, ended the announcement by discussing the cultural L&D climate change can cause. While admitting that cultural L&D is difficult to quantify, he underscored its importance to communities, and in some instances whole countries that may be displaced due to the effects of climate change. This further emphasizes the importance of L&D studies like this one, which could educate those working on L&D, helping them understand the individual community members’ views on displacement and ensuring that “migration with dignity” remains an option.

The views and feelings of individual community members are just as important as theoretical discussions about national or international approaches to L&D to develop comprehensive strategies to address L&D. Too often, L&D focuses on large-scale, national, or international solutions to L&D, but the real impact of L&D is felt on an individual basis in small communities across the world. This case study refocuses L&D research around these communities.


Filling the Gap: A Bangladeshi Climate Fund for Loss & Damage

 http://www.iisd.ca/climate/cop22/enbots/7nov.html

Photo by IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis

On the opening day of COP22, Practical Action and Lund University organized the first side event on loss and damage (L&D), titled Loss and Damage Perspectives and Options. At the event, presenters focused on the typologies, risks, and community-level effects of L&D. A theme during the discussion was that L&D was a difficult concept to define, because it means many different things to many different communities. Some communities are facing new issues that have never come up before while other communities are facing the same issues repeatedly but with increasing severity. Despite the different effects that L&D can create, one constant remains: a lack of financial mechanisms to deal with the full range of L&D issues.

Following these discussions, Saleemul Huq, Director at the International Centre for Climate Change and Development, spoke about Bangladesh’s Climate Change Trust (BCCT). During his presentation, Huq spoke about how the trust functions, explaining that funds are allocated to the trust each year and that only two-thirds of those funds get distributed every year. The remaining one-third is saved in the trust for emergency purposes; however, the committee that administers the trust has yet to define what would constitute an emergency, so those funds accumulate in the fund each year. Recently, Bangladesh decided to use the remaining funds in the BCCT to create a national mechanism for L&D—making strides toward filling the aforementioned financial gap. Huq mentioned that Bangladesh is planning to announce the proposed action during the COP next week, in the hopes that others may learn from their initiative or want to contribute to their valiant effort.


Hurricane Matthew Underscores the Importance of Loss & Damage for Haiti and the Developing World Under the Paris Agreement

Dieu Nalio Chery/Associated Press

Dieu Nalio Chery/Associated Press

Earlier this month, Hurricane Matthew left a path of destruction, ravaging Haiti and the southeastern coast of the United States. In Haiti, the death toll is uncertain, with some estimates in the hundreds or thousands of people. In addition to the rising death toll, those who survived are still feeling the hurricane’s effects three weeks later. The storm caused flooding and exacerbated poor sanitation systems in Haiti, leading to an increase in cholera cases across the country.

In comparison, the death toll and effects felt post-Matthew in the United States have been much less severe. While the southeastern coast is still experiencing severe flooding, the death toll is significantly lower, causing fewer than 50 deaths. The damages Haiti experienced were so much worse than the negative effects in the United States due to poverty and lack of resources. In contrast to Haiti and most of the developing world, the United States has the infrastructure and resources necessary to prevent many of the devastating effects of hurricanes and other natural disasters, such as emergency preparedness, early warning systems, and evacuation plans.

The disparate effects felt in the developing and developed world will only increase as the climate continues to change. Mitigation efforts alone will not be sufficient to prevent future loss and damage from climate change, making the loss and damage mechanism in Article 8 of the Paris Agreement even more important.

In order to reach the same level of preparedness as the United State and other developed countries, Haiti needs additional support. Article 8 provides the means through which Haiti—and other climate-vulnerable countries—can gain access to this support. Article 8 calls parties to enhance their understanding, action, and support for the effects of loss and damage from climate change, including areas like early warning systems and emergency preparedness. Research and support on implementing these types of mechanisms in countries like Haiti would go a long way toward reducing the devastating effects of climate change.

Looking forward to COP 22 in Marrakesh, the Executive Secretary recently released the agenda for the first meeting of the parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1). Item three of the agenda invites CMA 1 to “consider and adopt decisions on the modalities, procedures and guidelines on the implementation of the Paris Agreement.” Under the same item, Article 8 and paragraphs 47 through 51 from decision 1/CP.21, which outlines the duties of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM), are specifically mentioned. Now that the Paris Agreement is set to enter into force years earlier than expected, negotiations on loss and damage could potentially begin this year in Marrakesh.

In light of climate change, Hurricane Matthew is not an isolated incident. Extreme weather and slow-onset events will continue to devastate climate-vulnerable countries despite mitigation and adaptation measures—making loss and damage under Article 8 more important than ever.


Financial instruments ignite SCF Forum on L&D risk

Screen Shot 2016-09-14 at 12.19.31 PM Some sparks flew and some eyes got opened at the 2016 Forum of the UNFCCC Standing Committee on Finance (SCF), held in Manila last week. The Forum’s exploration of financial instruments for addressing the risks of loss and damage was at the request of the Executive Committee of the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) on Loss and Damage (L&D) in service of Action Area 7 of its 2-year workplan. (For some past posts on the WIM, including on this significant SCF-WIM linking, see here.)

The Forum drew nearly 150 representatives of governments, financial institutions, civil society and the private sector. The webcast (which covered much of the meeting) along with informative tweeting (#scfmanila) from a number of participating institutions and individuals offered remote observers some interesting insight. But first a little context/framing:


Addressing L&D – Basically, addressing L&D involves: 1) avoiding it, and 2) meeting it when it is unavoidable. L&D can be avoided primarily through mitigation and adaptation. In addition, reducing the risks of L&D (e.g., through early warning systems and disaster GITEWSconcept14001preparedness plans) can help prevent it. Unavoidable L&D can be minimized through certain types of risk management (sharing, savings/credit, insurance instruments, catastrophe bonds). Because L&D still occurs, even if it is minimized, responses to it rely on disaster response and management and climate services.

WIM workplan Action Area 7 – A close reading of Action Area 7 reveals one goal, one objective (how the goal is to be accomplished) and one strategy/action (how the objective is to be met):

  • Goal = facilitate finance in L&D situations;
  • Objective = “encourage comprehensive risk management;” and
  • Strategy = “diffus[e] information related to financial instruments and tools that address the risks of [climate-induced] loss and damage…”

Action Area 7, through encouraging risk management, tends to both avoiding L&D and minimizing unavoidable L&D. As for the SCF Forum, it fit within Action Area 7’s strategy of diffusing information, by covering risk pooling and transfer, catastrophe risk insurance and bonds, contingency finance, social protection schemes, and other instruments.

Cat bond transaction structure (rms.com, 2012)

Cat bond transaction structure (rms.com, 2012)

Throughout the event, however, it was clear that some participants were focused on the goal, while others (predominantly the insurance experts) were focused on the objective and/or strategy. The resulting friction illustrated the philosophical and political tensions that continue to fester in the climate regime in the absence of financial support to directly address loss and damage. The workplan, after all, is devoted essentially to compiling, diffusing and leveraging information. (We wrote about the Paris Agreement/Decision role in this evolving issue in our COP21 Documentation Project.)

The Forum did enhance understanding both of the gaps and opportunities with existing financial instruments, as well as the barriers that must be addressed to reach the most vulnerable with any versions of current and emerging risk instruments. (See the Forum page for presentations and the WIM Financial Instruments page for a well-organized host of relevant resources.)

Among the conclusions was that both cross-sectoral collaborations and integration of approaches are vital to deal with the risks of L&D. Importantly, two significant areas of concern remained unaddressed:

  1. The absence of actionable approaches for addressing slow-onset processes nclimate2016-i1from the insurance industry and related market players. Not surprising, given that there are generally no dramatic moments of humanitarian focus and no money to be made.
  2. The absence of financial instruments and tools to address non-economic losses. Without a means to monetize, the financial sector has yet to be effectively engaged toward this cost.

We will be tuning into the WIM Executive Committee’s 4th meeting later this month to learn its response to the Forum and more.


Loss and damage at SB44 – Whither the WIM?

101803802-495496305.530x298While, as we posted last week, loss and damage (L&D) was not on the agendas of the Subsidiary Bodies or the APA at the UNFCCC intersessional meetings held in Bonn, May 16-26, some attention was paid to this important issue.

Four side events covered varying aspects of L&D policy and action, both inside and outside the UNFCCC. These included climate migration, climate litigation, non-economic losses (we posted on this last week), and existing disaster risk management tools. (Links to event presentations can be found at the SB44/APA1 side event site.)

In addition, the Presidencies of COP21 and COP22 held a meeting for observer delegations to provide input on Article 8.4Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 5.11.27 PM of the Paris Agreement and action areas of the 2-year workplan of the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) Executive Committee (Excom). (As we reported earlier, the workplan is scheduled to be completed for review at COP22.) Among those presenting were: the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Climate Action Network (CAN) International, the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative, a range of NGO constituency groups, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum.

Dr. Saleemul Huq, Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) in Bangladesh, and one of the (Least Developed Countries) LDCs’ top advisors,Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 5.13.02 PM suggested that the purpose of this event was “to gauge the level of interest amongst parties and observers.” Given the throng of attendees and the passion with which many statements were delivered, it is clear that interest and engagement levels are high.

And, there is good reason – this is a highly political subject. According to presenters at the side events, developing countries are increasingly experiencing much worse L&D and sooner than expected from drought, heat waves, major storms, sea level rise, and salt-water intrusion. Climate-induced migration is gaining wider acknowledgement and attention. At the same time, L&D has essentially achieved recognition as a separate pillar of the climate regime through Article 8 of the Paris Agreement. Yet, the Paris decision included a clause preventing Article 8 from serving as “a basis for any liability or compensation;” on top of which, no specific reference to financing to address L&D is present in either the Agreement or the decision.

Concern is great, and the primary message is that the WIM should ramp up its engagement with the robust sphere of non-state actors and resources to both address current actual losses and damage and establish equitable, aggressive policies and strategies to avoid future L&D. Hotbeds of engagement exist for all of its current workplan action areas. (The 2-year workplan can be found here.) Dr. Huq considers migration and finance as “the two most critical,” and recommends fast-tracking those.

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 4.50.21 PMThe urgency is mounting ahead of COP22. Among the questions we’ll be following, as the Excom holds its final 2016 meeting in September, is whether the 20-person body will seek an extension or try to meet the review deadline. Among its tasks is to “[d]evelop a five-year rolling workplan for consideration at COP22 building on the results of this two-year workplan…”

Will the Excom fail to deliver? Will a delay lose the political momentum of COP22? Neither those suffering now, nor those at current risk can afford that.


Loss and Damage in Bonn (sort of)

Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 7.23.56 AMThe 44th meeting of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies (SBs) and the first meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA), held in Bonn, Germany, May 16-26, were full of action. Our delegation report-back started earlier this week, here and here. Key work areas receiving consideration included, for example: preparation for the implementation of the Paris Agreement; adaptation planning and action (and the Adaptation Fund); capacity building in developing countries; gender and climate policy; and market and non-market mechanisms to incentivize mitigation action.

Yet, Loss and damage (L&D), what many consider the third pillar of the climate regime, 131206_loss_and_damagegot little attention in Bonn. A few observers noted they expected more than two posters and one side event on the work of the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage (WIM), given the upcoming COP22 review of progress on the WIM Executive Committee (Excom) 2-year (2015-2016) workplan, and L&D now being the subject of a separate article in the Paris Agreement. Some also expressed confusion about a special event for observer delegation input on “issues related to the Warsaw International Mechanism in the lead up to and beyond COP22,” convened by the COP21 and COP22 Presidencies on May 24 (we’ll speak to this in an upcoming post).

The reason for the limited attention is that the WIM, created at COP19 to address L&D, functions under and reports to the COP independently, rather than being part of the work of the SBSTA and SBI. Additionally, though Article 8 of the Paris Agreement is devoted to the WIM, the Paris decision gave no additional instructions to the Excom for 2016 that might have tied it to the SB44. The Excom is heavily engaged in its 2-year workplan (2015-2016) through 3 meetings in 2016 (January, April, September). You can follow the work, including calls for submissions via the Excom meetings site.

The WIM L&D side event, Shining the light on non-economic losses: challenges, risks and lessons learned for addressing them, was well-crafted and well-attended. (The robust presentation can be accessed from the Side Event list, by scrolling down to the May 18 event and clicking on the “Presentations” link.) Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 7.20.03 AMNon-economic losses, the focus of Action Area 4 of the 2-year workplan, are losses for which a monetary value cannot be readily assigned, for which there is no market price. As defined by the UNFCCC technical paper, these are losses of “life, health, displacement and human mobility, territory, cultural heritage, indigenous/local knowledge, biodiversity and ecosystem services.” These can be, of course, the greatest and worst losses of all. The side event’s key objectives were to:

  • Raise awareness and understanding of the nature and extent of non-economic losses;
  • Put a spotlight on some of the challenges and risks that non-economic losses pose to developing countries;
  • Highlight some of the lessons learned associated with addressing non-economic losses, including how to integrate measures to reduce the risk of non-economic losses in comprehensive approaches to address loss and damage.

An upcoming post on L&D from Bonn will cover the special event for observer input on the WIM, and a couple of exciting unofficial side events addressing the limits to adaptation and progress on climate litigation. Also stay tuned for more info on the WIM Excom.


SCF, Meet Loss and Damage

financeThe Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) on Loss and damage (L&D) is going on a somewhat surprising date this year with the Standing Committee on Finance (SCF). The job of the SCF is to assist the UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP) in conducting its climate finance functions. The job of the WIM is to enhance action and support to address loss and damage in developing countries particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts. (We’ve covered the WIM and L&D extensively, e.g., here, here and here.)

The reason this ‘date’ is interesting is that nowhere in any COP decisions is the SCF directly instructed to engage the issue of L&D or pursue a close relationship with the WIM. Climate finance language is strictly aimed at mitigation, adaptation, and building capacity and enabling environments for those. Yet, sometime in mid-2016, the SCF will hold its annual Forum Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 7.38.12 PMdesigned to advance communication and information exchange as well as linkages. And, this forum’s topic will be: “Financial instruments that address the risks of loss and damage.”

It is true that, at COP19, Parties asked the SCF to “further enhance its linkages with the Subsidiary Body for Implementation and the thematic bodies of the Convention.” It is also true that, at COP21, Parties decided to endorse the SCF’s 2016-2017 workplan, which included this year’s Forum. But the guardian may not realize what seriousness (mischief?) might come of this liaison between two of its wards.

The WIM’s Executive Committee actually made the first move at SCF’s 11th meeting in October 2015, requesting the ‘date’ based on an aspect of its 2-year workplan approved by COP20. And, while the WIM might not have looked like the SCF’s type, there apparently was enough chemistry for a quick “Yes.” Earlier this month, at the SCF’s 12th meeting, the 20 Committee members reviewed input from multiple stakeholders and got the plans rolling.Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 7.33.26 PM

What makes this kind of engagement between the SCF and the WIM important, is that, even though the Paris Agreement includes a distinct article on L&D (quite a significant outcome), it contains no provision for financing efforts to address this critical climate change issue. Thus, the SCF giving its attention to L&D could be extremely influential.

One clear way this can happen beyond the exposure and focus of the forum, is through the 2016 Biennial Assessment and Overview of Climate Finance Flows (BA), on which the SCF began work during its 12th meeting. The BA is a comprehensive compilation used to support the COP’s climate finance responsibilities. Not surprisingly, L&D received no attention in the 2014 edition. ba_titleIt most certainly will in the 2016 BA, with the Forum’s attention to this substantive issue.

Where Parties take it from there will tell a lot about the prospects for these two. Will the SCF and WIM really bond? Will they decide to go steady? Might there be a real future for L&D under the climate finance wing of the climate regime? Some are undoubtedly dreaming of wedded bliss!Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 8.13.32 PM


No Red Lines, But a Green Light for Adaptation and Loss and Damage

At this morning’s Comité de Paris meeting, COP President Laurent Fabius channeled Nelson Mandela, saying: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” At tonight’s COP meeting, Parties adopted the Paris Agreement in a historical and long-awaited moment. While past Agreement drafts have been full of brackets, options, and red line changes, these notations are notably absent from the final Paris Agreement.

Source: Takepart

Source: Takepart

With a green light (and ceremonial strike of a green gavel) for the Paris Agreement, it is worth taking a moment to pause and look at the final Agreement language in light of what came before it. Article 7 on Adaptation starts with a paragraph on the global goal on Adaptation. In the beginning of this week, it was unclear whether this goal for Adaptation would ensure Adaptation in the context of the global temperature goal. The final Agreement established the Adaptation response in the context of the temperature limit increase. This ensures that the global goal on Adaptation is grounded in a quantitative, and not only a qualitative, target. In the final Paris Agreement, this language was strengthened by adding that an Adaptation response must be “adequate.”

Paragraph 4 focuses on Adaptation needs and Adaptation in conjunction with Mitigation. The paragraph describes how greater levels of Mitigation can reduce the need for Adaptation effort. In the December 9th and 10th versions of the Agreement, this paragraph closed by referencing “that greater rates and magnitude of climate change increase the likelihood of exceeding adaptation limits.” This phrase referenced L&D from the permanent and irreversible impacts of climate change. It also acknowledged that Adaptation, Mitigation, and L&D are closely interlinked, and that attending to all of them is important. However, this phrase on L&D did not make it into the final Agreement text. This change is part of the larger uncertainty that has surrounded the issue of L&D.

In the beginning of this week, the fate of L&D in the Agreement was very uncertain. One text option briefly recognized the issue of L&D, with a footnote that the text could end up elsewhere in the Agreement — likely in the article on Adaptation and not as its own article. Adaptation and L&D are separate issues that require different approaches, and therefore the final Agreement’s inclusion of a distinct Article on L&D is an accomplishment for the Paris Agreement. The December 10th draft Agreement separated the intention on L&D from the implementation mechanism, the Warsaw International Mechanism on L&D (WIM). Importantly, the final Paris Agreement bridged this disconnect and integrated these issues, saying that “Parties should enhance understanding, action and support, including through the [WIM].” The duration of this mechanism will play an important role in ensuring the resilience of countries who face climate change impacts in the future.

After the adoption of the Paris Agreement, South Africa channeled Nelson Mandela again, in a statement that reflects today’s achievements and the many challenges that lie ahead in addressing climate change:

I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.


COP21: The Gathering – What are we willing to trade?

There are many analogies used to describe the climate negotiations, some of which – including fractals, webs, and dances ­– have been referenced right here on this blog. At this stage of the negotiations though, another metaphor comes to mind: that of trading card games. With the initial deadline for an agreement hours behind us, negotiators are making every effort to cobble together a robust outcome that will be approved by the Parties before the close of the week. At this phase, the foundation of the agreement is in place and global political leaders are negotiating the last remaining bracketed words and phrases.

This is not entirely dissimilar to trading card games, in which players build their decks over time, collecting cards that will serve particular purposes, and trading to create a final arrangement that will win the game. In Paris, negotiating groups continue advocating for particular measures, steadfastly insisting on their inclusion in the final deck. But to reach the finish line and present a substantial and effective climate agreement to the world, compromises must be made, trades brokered, and deals coordinated. And importantly, the trading cards being dealt here do not come in little foil packages, but represent language choices with grave impacts for real people across the world.

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Davidson

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Davidson

In the most recent version of the text, it is clear that Parties have reached some compromises, making informed sacrifices in order to preserve their most valued cards. Of particular note is how the language on finance has evolved over the last thirty-two hours. Financial obligations are addressed under Article 6 of the agreement, and since the previous version of the text on December 9th, the vast majority of the uncertainty has been removed from the language. Only a few lonely brackets remain, indicating that parties have worked furiously to resolve much of the underlying disagreement.

Stern&Xie

From: http://www.thenational.ae (Vesela Todorova)

While trade-offs are apparent throughout the text, the give-and-take strategies are particularly notable when developed and developing countries try to reach agreement around financing. For example, some large developed countries insist that they will not agree to new, legally binding financial obligations. Simultaneously, some developing countries insist that they will not agree to a system that saddles all parties equally with the financial burden for climate change. Many of the outstanding challenges similarly relate to notions of differentiation of responsibility and ambition.

A potentially underappreciated trade occurred in reconciling Paragraphs Five and Six in the most recent text. Developing countries lost an important component of their deck when dedicated funding for loss and damage was omitted. The earlier version of the text had obligated developed countries to ensure adequate financial support for the International Mechanism to address Loss and Damage, and to promote and support financing for irreversible damage from climate change. This paragraph no longer exists in the draft text.

However, developed parties offered a trade by including vital language related to the scale of financing to be provided. Paragraph Five in the current text calls for consideration of the priorities and needs of developing countries, with a focus on public, grant-based resources for adaptation. This represented a valuable trade for developing countries because, even without the loss and damage funding, this section prioritizes adaptation projects in developing countries when allocating grants and public funding, which are highly sought-after.

These are the types of deals that must be finalized amongst 196 parties before Sunday morning. It will be fascinating to track the outcomes of these trades in the final agreement.


Losing Loss and Damage? Or Will the Paris Agreement Adapt?

Last night marked the 4th meeting of the Comité de Paris, a group of ministerial leaders that carries out informal consultations “to make progress and facilitate compromise on the draft Paris Outcome and package of decisions transmitted to the COP by ADP.” At a meeting earlier in the day, COP President Laurent Fabius reported on the status of Adaptation and Loss and Damage (L&D) in the new Paris agreement.

Source: L'Express

Source: L’Express

Fabius explained that through informal consultations, Parties have almost concluded on the major issue of Adaptation to climate change impacts, which will enable focus on L&D. However, at the start of last night’s meeting, Fabius commented that he still had no updates from Parties on L&D in the agreement. The responses that followed suggest that negotiations are far from complete on Article 4 on Adaptation and Article 5 on L&D.

After the COP President’s opening remarks at last night’s meeting, 60 countries and groups shared their positions on the newest draft agreement text. Comments included a landslide outcry across developing countries and negotiating groups for increasing the ambition for Adaptation, and giving clear attention to L&D. Many developing countries and negotiating groups also said it was essential to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C.

Source: GCCA

Source: GCCA

South Africa, on behalf of the G-77 and China, pointed out that their group’s key proposals on Adaptation don’t appear in new text. They said that they trust that Parties will be able to engage further on Adaptation for developing countries. On L&D, the group acknowledged that there will be further consultation to advance on the issue. The current draft text has two options for Article 5 on L&D. First, to include it in its own Article, Article 5. The second option would be to incorporate it in Article 4 with the Adaptation provisions. South Africa, on behalf of the G-77 and China, stated that there should be a separate article on L&D, which must be clearly bounded by the principles of the Convention, particularly the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDRRC) that addresses permanent impacts of climate change. Many countries echoed South Africa on behalf of the G-77 and China’s position in subsequent remarks, including as described in yesterday’s ENB report, the G-77 and China, with Vietnam, Haiti, and Timor Leste, among others, emphasized the need for a distinct article on L&D.

Guatemala, on behalf of AILAC, agreed that Parties must continue to make progress in a bridging proposal for L&D, and said that in moving toward the final phase of negotiations, there is a need to catalyze actions in the area of Adaptation and the need to include a registry for adaptation actions. The most recent version of the draft text dropped the bracketed reference to a registry for adaptation communications that was included in the previous version. Chile echoed these sentiments, supporting AILAC’s proposal for Adaptation, including a registry for nationally determined priorities that would act as catalyst for short-term climate adaptation actions.

The coming hours and days will shed more light on the status of Adaptation and L&D in the Paris agreement.


What’s next and who makes it happen at COP21?

COP21 Comite de Paris

At COP21 on Saturday, December 5, the ADP transmitted the draft Paris Outcome (the Agreement, as we’ve called it all year) and its accompanying Decision to the COP. The text still contains many bracketed phrases (choices to be made), and there are key outstanding issues, such as on long-term goal, the timing of review of pledges, the provision of support to developing countries, loss and damage, and principles of equity and differentiation. (Be sure to see our posts from Week 1 for more details).

In its first action, the COP established the Comité de Paris (the Paris Committee), chaired by COP21 President, Laurent Fabius, to conduct informal consultations to facilitate achieving agreement by mid-week. These “informals” will cover thematic areas, and thus help to tackle cross cutting issue concerns such as differentiation, ambition, and adaptation/loss&damage. These launched on Sunday, and resumed today with closed meetings, along with bi-lateral meetings arranged by co-facilitators of each issue area to pursue compromise.

We will get a sense of the potential for progress at the Committee’s first Plenary tonight, where facilitators will share today’s outcomes by articulating their “assessment[s] of the possible concepts for solutions.”

The agreed upon facilitators, ministers from member Parties, are being paired for these consultations, and have received guidance from the COP President. Their mandate is clear: “Bridge differences with a focus on issues that require solutions to enable a timely and successful conclusion of the Paris Outcome.” And each duo has been given its “key issues.”

Stay tuned!


Research: Current institutions inadequate to address climate migration. Will Paris deliver?

Sea Level Rise PMIt is becoming increasingly common knowledge that citizens of island countries are already experiencing climate change impacts such as sea level rise, drought, salt water intrusion, cyclones and more. Earlier yesterday, the New York Times illustrated that well, with an in-depth look at the disappearing Marshall Islands. According to a new study being conducted by the UN University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) across 3 Pacific Island nations (neighbors of the Marshall Islands), these impacts have begun to drive migration as an adaptation strategy, which in turn is revealing serious and complex issues about mobility.

It is not yet clear whether such information might influence the Paris Agreement. As of 8:00 am Paris time today, Article 5. in the draft Agreement addressing Loss and Damage, and containing a provision to create a climate change displacement coordination facility, remained an option on the table.

It would behoove the climate policy community to pay attention to this unprecedented new research that is seeking to understand current and future scenarios for people vulnerable to climate change displacement impacts. The ultimate goal is to “improve the capacity of Pacific Island countries to better plan and manage the impacts of climate change on migration.” And yesterday at COP21, the project director, Dr. Koko Warner, Senior Expert at UNU EHS, presented her team’s findings to date.

KokoWarner_Dec2 2015 COP21 PMThe study, funded by EuropeAid, has involved more than 6,000 surveys of nearly 900 households in Kiribati, Tuvalu, and Nauru, utilizing local citizens who received training in the survey method. These surveys have made clear that movement is no longer just because of economics or persecution, and that both mobility and adapting in place are constrained by multiple factors. Those surveyed have serious concerns about leaving and staying.

Climate change was independently and specifically cited as a reason for migration by 23% of migrants in Kiribati and 8% in Tuvalu, without it being introduced in the questions. And, significant numbers of households surveyed (>70% in Kiribati and >35% in Nauru) indicated they would likely choose migration, if droughts, sea level rise, and floods worsen. Yet, many Pacific Islanders face visa issues, and education and financial constraints that prevent them from using migration as a way to manage climate change risks. Nor has internal migration, which is far easier and less expensive than international movement, served as a durable solution for climate change. In Kiribati, many residents of the outer atolls have moved to the capital island, only to experience overcrowding, high unemployment, and limited fresh water, without reduced vulnerability to climate change. For Pacific Islanders seeking to or forced by economics to adapt in place, the toolbox is still pretty empty – insufficient weather data, incident early warning systems, and fresh water protection strategies, among other issues.UNU EHS Factsheet_Warnerresearch PM

The larger, more fundamental issue being revealed is that even though managed migration could increase the capacity to adapt, the concept is absent from current legal and institutional frameworks. Conventional 20th century tools used for mobility are not workable for 21st century climate migrants. For Warner, “the lesson is how unprepared we are and how ill equipped our current … arrangements are” for this increasing challenge.

Warner’s work could well begin to erode the credibility of some policymakers who insist that existing institutions can be employed to face this challenge, and may make inroads toward keeping the loss and damage Article and its climate change displacement coordination facility in the Paris Agreement. We are watching closely.


CAN International flashes climate movement’s teeth on Day 1

CAN International logo

 

CAN (Climate Action Network) International’s COP21 opening press conference this morning delivered strong words for the leaders and negotiators. (CAN International is a recognized “network of NGOs working on climate change from around the world.” Member groups well known in the U.S. include 350.org, Union of Concerned Scientists, World Resources Institute, and World Wildlife Fund.) Four organizations presented:

Keya Chatterjee of US CAN praised the climate movement’s hard work since COP15 in Copenhagen that has achieved today’s powerful level of engagement. She noted that 2 of the 3 key ingredients for a just transition to a livable world have been met: 1) an activist base -“check;” and 2) a permissive majority – “check.” The third requirement, political leadership, is being demanded at COP21 where leaders are called to reveal “if they are with the world or not.” Activists clearly feel that Obama’s political credibility is on the line.

CAN Intl Webcast panel Nov30

Mohamed Adow of Christian Aid decried the current inadequate offerings of developed countries on mitigation and adaptation that will result in the sacrifice of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. He shared that the INDCs will deliver a too high 2.7°C increase, and called on the Parties to complete a strong agreement that provides for robust adaptation help, a loss & damage mechanism, and the climate finance to make these happen.

Tim Gore from Oxfam predicted that the negotiations will be brutal, and could get nasty. Three of the flash points he anticipates:

  • Current commitment questions- $100Bill/year by 2020. Will this happen and will there be enough adaptation finance from it? The Africa Group has put a proposal on the table to ensure $32 billion for adaptation from GCF by 2020.
  • Loss & Damage- “a David & Goliath issue,” with the US not wanting to move on it at all, and the other developed countries happy for the U.S. to take the hard line position.
  • Post 2020 finance- “the great known unknown” at these talks. There is a serious need to for a new commitment on finance. The key tradeoff is between getting new numbers on the table and getting others at the table. But who goes first?

Pierre Cannet of WWF France called upon Parties to reach a solid, inclusive, transparent agreement that also provides for a role by civil society. He congratulated France’s efforts to make this COP a real success. Pierre’s primary message was to stay in the negotiators’ ears in Paris, and keep the messages coming through demonstrations and marches, predicting that civil society’s vital role in building a strong response will serve “to change course and make history.”

KeyChatterjee-USCAN at CAN Webcast Nov30One of the most impassioned statements of the press conference came during the Q&A, when Keya Chatterjee (USCAN), expressing the commitment of the massive climate movement in the U.S. to hold the country’s leaders accountable to mitigation targets, nearly shouted, “I promise you, over our dead bodies, will these targets not be met!”

The Movement is unapologetically here. Let’s hope the political will is.

 

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Please note: Press conferences at the COP are a great way for remote followers to get real time news and views. You can tune in via the UNFCCC webcast page and catch the live action before it reaches your favorite news feeds.