November 16, 2017  |  

COP23: “We cannot afford to wait any longer”

Only three days left until the end of COP23! Ministers and Head of states are arriving to give their final statements on the process of COP and negotiators are glad to finally get home. How fast time passes by.

With Fiji taking the presidency at COP23, an important topic was discussed more eagerly than the years before: Loss and Damage. Loss and Damage (Article 8 of the Paris Agreement) treats the issue of climate change related disasters like hurricanes, droughts and floods, which lead to loss and damages for the people affected by it. The biggest issue at this COP was finance and that includes the Loss & Damage finance as well. Vulnerable countries, for example the small island countries, urged the developed countries to enhance and speed up giving money to the funds that are responsible for disaster affected communities.

In the first week, the European Union made clear, that they don’t see any link between climate change and extreme weather events and as long as there is no scientific proof for that they wouldn’t pay more. They were supported by the US, Australia and Canada.Those four parties worked to undermine the developing countries to get the outcome they wanted.

The draft decision to the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts was therefore not a huge success, as hoped. WIM was established in 2013 to address loss and damage associated with impacts of climate change, including extreme events and slow onset events, in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. The WIM already had the mandate to mobilize finance and the Article 8 of the Paris Agreement has stated the same two years later. We are still not closer to getting money for the most vulnerable countries.

The draft, that was agreed on yesterday, sets up an expert dialogue for April/May next year to talk about a wide range of information and inputs, including finance. Many of the experts at Bonn believe that there is a limited appetite for this topic, which explains why the draft was agreed on so easily. But for the small island states, this is not enough. What they want is money flowing to the vulnerable countries but also to the WIM to finally be able to do some decent work (they are considerably under-resourced).

At the high-level segment (ministers and head of states attend and give statements about the progress of the conference), the president of Nauru stated: “We are not on track. There are challenges that don’t respect political borders drawn on a map. A failure of Loss and Damage would be devastating for the small island countries. Therefore it is crucial, that the lack of resources is addressed. Vinaka!

Stefanie Tornow
YMCA Bonn, Germany