Bonn Climate Change Conference, June 1 2015. (UNClimateChange photo via Flickr CC)
Bonn Climate Change Conference, June 1 2015. (UNClimateChange photo via Flickr CC)

The new UN Paris climate agreement to be signed in December needs a climate change loss, damage and compensation mechanism and must set a more stringent 1.5°C limit on the globe’s temperature rise.

Delegates from a majority of countries represented at the recent June 1-11 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations in Bonn spoke with concern that lives, lands and communities in developing countries are already being lost and damaged by climate change, but the new draft UN agreement fails to discuss actions necessary to stop these impacts and to recognize the need for necessary compensation.

One African delegate passionately pointed out that loss and damage is already happening.  “There are millions in Africa and in other continents who are suffering — but we don’t have a voice in this process.” 

A wide range of countries, including groups such as the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), African States, Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and the Independent Alliance of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC) are concerned the current draft text for Paris fails to mention the need for compensation funds — money for damage for which there is no adaptation possible.  Nor does the current draft text even guarantee there will be a future damage and loss assessment mechanism. As one delegate pointed out, while adaptation has a major role in the draft text and discussions, “loss and damage needs to have a stand-alone section, not be lumped in with adaptation.” 

An African delegate reminded his colleagues that just because  developed countries do not want to hear about or discuss loss and damage does not mean it is not happening. “If you come from African countries you know about disrupted communities, lost agricultural areas, cultural losses, loss of home areas, shrines, etc.” 

Other developing country delegates pointed out that the current UN goal to limit the globe’s temperature increase to 2°C above pre-industrial levels is totally inadequate. They referenced a recent UN scientific review which found that “in some regions and vulnerable ecosystems, high risks are projected even for warming above 1.5 °C.”  The same study found that “not only are we not on track to meet the long-term global goal, but the current emission rate is accelerating… emissions need to be cut significantly and immediately.”

The delegates were reminded that without urgent carbon restrictions,  millions in Africa and other countries, who are currently suffering with the current 0.8°C temperate increase, will suffer much greater loss and damage.

The Cambia Environment Minister Pa Ousman Jarju said, “We can’t let temperatures go to 2°C – that will threaten the survival of our communities.  Now is the time to reset the target as 1.5”

The Angolan chair of the LCD group, Giza Gaspar Martins, said that a global temperature rise of 2°C.would put in danger the survival of a great number of countries. Referring the to the UN review study he said, “It’s more unequivocal that a 2 degree world is unsafe for many of the world’s citizens.” He reminded delegates that the 2 degree target was proposed only on the basis that we would have a review process. “That has happened and now we know 2 degrees is too dangerous for many of us LDC and SIDS – close to 100 countries.” We now need to exercise the option — to revise the limit to 1.5 degrees.

I recommend accessing the recent UN scientific review for those interested in more information.

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