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.

A social COP

IMG_5244Tonight, after a third, long day attending negotiation sessions and side events at the venue, notetaking and briefing the Myanmar delegation, and blogging about it all, we cleaned up the apartment, put out plates of cheese and salty snacks, and welcomed university delegaIMG_5247tions to our home away from home.  This “tradition” started last year when Beth Martin of the Washington University School of Law and I met and decided to introduce our students.  One thing led to another and before we knew it, 30-some students were piled into our 2-bedroom apartment!

This yeIMG_5246ar’s gathering included a wide range of students and professors, educational institutions, and observer delegation activities.  Our JD and masters students welcomed undergraduate and graduate students from Wash U, Scripps, Lehigh, University of Manchester, Oslo University, and the University of Michigan,IMG_5245 along with two members of Singapore’s youth delegation.  Students talked about their work at COP20/CMP10, including staffing exhibit booths on great rivers and climate change, making presentations on ocean acidification at a side event, doing doctoral research on political dynamics, and attending a variety of side events.

And the next day, among the some 11,000 attendees at this year’s COP, we kept bumping into one another.

COP19 RINGOs Calling

Beth Martin, Engineering and Science Director / Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic at Washington University in St. Louis, is working to pull together a list of RINGO students and advisors who attended this year’s COP and/or are interested in sending students and advisors to future COPs.

Beth writes: “The idea of pulling together a network is to better enable communication between both students and faculty in the Young RINGO context (students attending COP in a research capacity).This would enable students in programs to  build connections and compare notes and at the same time provide faculty a way to do the same. I am beginning to pull this together and at this point I am not sure what the final form(s) will be.  A LinkedIn network and Facebook group have both been suggested, for example.  But first – I am collecting names.  Please contact Beth at martin@wulaw.wustl.edu if you:

1)  want to be in this network.

2)  know others from your institution who want to be included.

3)  know other institutions who want to be included.

4)  have suggestions for the form of the network.”

university grp shotI met Beth in November when we were both leading delegations to COP19 in Warsaw.  She and I organized a social gathering during the COP’s first week – and were happily surprised by some 30 students and professors who turned out and spent a couple of evening hours at our apartment sharing their COP19 work and experiences.

Beth also passes on a request from Sara Kerosky, Research Associate in the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at UCSD.  Sara’s lab is doing a survey of how NGOs use (or not use) international law in their advocacy work.  She and her colleagues hope to complete their research soon and share the results so that NGOs may use them when working at future COPs.  The link to the survey is http://tinyurl.com/ILARenvironment.  I spent a solid half hour taking the survey yesterday and found myself more deeply thinking about the development of international environmental law (vs. policy), the UNFCCC process, and the various roles that a variety of NGOs play in it.  Time well spent on several levels.