The right to live in a healthy environment is a human right
by UNICEF, OHCHR, IISD, Climate Network, agencies
9:43am 17th Nov, 2023
1 in 3 children exposed to severe water scarcity – UNICEF
1 in 3 children – or 739 million worldwide – already live in areas exposed to high or very high water scarcity, with climate change threatening to make this worse, according to a new UNICEF report.
The double burden of dwindling water availability and inadequate drinking water and sanitation services is compounding the challenge, putting children at even greater risk.
The Climate Changed Child – released ahead of the COP28 climate change summit - throws a spotlight on the threat to children as a result of water vulnerability, one of the ways in which the impacts of climate change are being felt. It provides an analysis of the impacts of three tiers of water security globally – water scarcity, water vulnerability, and water stress.
The report, a follow up to the UNICEF’s Children’s Climate Risk (2021), outlines the myriad of ways in which children bear the brunt of the impacts of the climate crisis –including disease, air pollution, and extreme weather events such as floods and droughts.
From the moment of conception until they grow into adulthood, the health and development of children’s brains, lungs, immune systems and other critical functions are affected by the environment they grow up in.
For example, children are more likely to suffer from air pollution than adults. Generally, they breathe faster than adults and their brains, lungs and other organs are still developing.
“The consequences of climate change are devastating for children,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. “Their bodies and minds are uniquely vulnerable to polluted air, poor nutrition and extreme heat. Not only is their world changing – with water sources drying up and terrifying weather events becoming stronger and more frequent – so too is their well-being as climate change affects their mental and physical health. Children are demanding change, but their needs are far too often relegated to the sidelines.”
According to the report findings, the greatest share of children are exposed in the Middle East and North Africa and South Asia regions – meaning they live in places with limited water resources and high levels of seasonal and interannual variability, ground water table decline or drought risk.
Far too many children – 436 million - are facing the double burden of high or very high water scarcity and low or very low drinking water service levels – known as extreme water vulnerability – leaving their lives, health, and well-being at risk. It is one of the key drivers of deaths among children under 5 from preventable diseases.
The report shows that those most affected live in low- and middle-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Central and Southern Asia, and Eastern and South-Eastern Asia. In 2022, 436 million children were living in areas facing extreme water vulnerability. Some of the most impacted countries include Niger, Jordan, Burkina Faso, Yemen, Chad, and Namibia, where 8 out of 10 children are exposed.
In these circumstances, investment in safe drinking water and sanitation services are an essential first line of defense to protect children from the impacts of climate change. Climate change is also leading to increased water stress – the ratio of water demand to available renewable supplies – the report warns.
By 2050, at least 35 million more children are projected to be exposed to high or very high levels of water stress, with the Middle East and North Africa, and South Asia currently facing the biggest shifts.
Despite their unique vulnerability, children have been either ignored or largely disregarded in discussions about climate change. For example, only 2.4 per cent of climate finance from key multilateral climate funds support projects that incorporate child-responsive activities.
At COP28, UNICEF is calling on world leaders and the international community to take critical steps with and for children to secure a livable planet, including:
Elevating children within the final COP28 Cover Decision and convene an expert dialogue on children and climate change. Embedding children and intergeneration equity in the Global Stocktake (GST). Including children and climate resilient essential services within the final decision on the Global Goal for Adaptation (GGA).
Ensuring the Loss and Damage Fund and funding arrangements are child-responsive with child rights embedded in the fund's governance and decision-making process.
Beyond COP28, UNICEF is calling on parties to take action to protect the lives, health and well-being of children - including by adapting essential social services, empowering every child to be a champion for the environment, and fulfilling international sustainability and climate change agreements including rapidly reducing carbon emissions.
“Children and young people have consistently made urgent calls for their voices to be heard on the climate crisis, but they have almost no formal role in climate policy and decision-making. They are rarely considered in existing climate adaptation, mitigation or finance plans and actions,” Russell said. “It is our collective responsibility to put every child at the centre of urgent global climate action.”
http://reliefweb.int/report/world/climate-changed-child-childrens-climate-risk-index-supplement-enar http://www.unicef.org/climate-action/cop http://www.unicef.org/reports/climate-changed-child
Urgent action by States needed to tackle climate change, says UN Committee in guidance on children’s rights and environment. (OHCHR)
The United Nations Child Rights Committee has published an authoritative guidance on children’s rights and the environment with a special focus on climate change. The guidance specifies the legislative and administrative measures States should urgently implement to address the adverse effects of environmental degradation and climate change on the enjoyment of children’s rights, and to ensure a clean, healthy, and sustainable world now and to preserve it for future generations.
The Committee has adopted its guidance, formally known as General Comment No. 26, after two rounds of consultation with States, national human rights institutions, international organizations, civil society, thematic experts and children.
The Committee received 16,331 contributions from children in 121 countries; children shared and reported on the negative effects of environmental degradation and climate change on their lives and communities and asserted their right to live in a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
“Children are architects, leaders, thinkers and changemakers of today’s world. Our voices matter, and they deserve to be listened to,” said 17-year-old Kartik, a climate and child rights activist from India and one of the Committee’s child advisers. “General Comment No. 26 is the instrument that will help us understand and exercise our rights in the face of environmental and climate crises,” he added.
“This general comment is of great and far-reaching legal significance,” said Ann Skelton, Chair of the Committee, emphasising, “as it details States’ obligations under the Child Rights Convention to address environmental harms and guarantee that children are able to exercise their rights. This encompasses their rights to information, participation, and access to justice to ensure that they will be protected from and receive remedies for the harms caused by environmental degradation and climate change.”
The general comment clarifies how children’s rights apply to environmental protection and underscores that children have the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. This right is implicit in the Convention and directly linked to, in particular, the rights to life, survival and development, the highest attainable standard of health, an adequate living standard, and education. This right is also necessary for the full enjoyment of children’s rights.
The general comment further asserts that States shall protect children against environmental damage from commercial activities. It specifies that States are obliged to provide legislative, regulative and enforcement frameworks to ensure that businesses respect children’s rights, and should require businesses to undertake due diligence regarding children’s rights and the environment. Immediate steps should be taken when children are identified as victims to prevent further harm to their health and development and to repair the damage done.
The Committee observes that, in many countries, children encounter barriers to attaining legal standing due to their status, limiting their means of asserting their rights in relation to the environment. States should therefore provide pathways for children to access justice for violations of their rights relating to environmental harm, including through complaints mechanisms that are child-friendly, gender-responsive and disability-inclusive. In addition, mechanisms should be available for claims of imminent or foreseeable harms and past or current violations of children’s rights.
With regard to climate change, the general comment underlines that States must take all necessary measures to protect against harms to children’s rights related to climate change caused by business enterprises, such as by ensuring that businesses rapidly reduce their emissions.
The guidance also emphasises the urgent and collective need for developed States to address the present climate finance gap, including through grants rather than loans to developing States to avoid negative impacts on children’s rights. It also notes that climate finance is overly slanted toward mitigation at the cost of adaptation and loss and damage measures, which has discriminatory effects on children who live in areas where more adaptation measures are needed.
The Committee urges immediate collective States actions to tackle environmental harm and climate change.
http://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2023/08/urgent-action-states-needed-tackle-climate-change-says-un-committee-guidance http://www.ohchr.org/en/documents/general-comments-and-recommendations/general-comment-no-26-2023-childrens-rights-and http://www.unicef.org/press-releases/un-committee-rights-child-calls-states-take-action-first-guidance-childrens-rights http://news.un.org/en/story/2023/08/1140122 http://www.savethechildren.net/news/geneva-landmark-recognition-says-inaction-climate-crisis-child-rights-violation http://childrightsenvironment.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/Press-Release_GC26.pdf http://www.rightsoffuturegenerations.org/the-principles http://resourcecentre.savethechildren.net/document/born-climate-crisis-why-we-must-act-now-secure-childrens-rights/ http://www.unicef.org/media/105376/file/UNICEF-climate-crisis-child-rights-crisis.pdf http://violenceagainstchildren.un.org/climate-crisis http://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/earth-had-hottest-three-month-period-record-unprecedented-sea-surface http://www.ncei.noaa.gov/news/reporting-state-climate-2022
As COP28 begins, UN human rights experts urged States to accelerate the just and equitable phase out of fossil fuels, warning about the immense magnitude of their negative human rights impacts. They issued the following statement:
“Fossil fuels are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, which have unequivocally caused the climate crisis.
This year records were broken with global CO2-equivalent emissions reaching 57.4 gigatons and close to 90 days with global temperature increases exceeding 1.5°C in recent months, placing the Paris Agreement commitment of limiting warming to 1.5°C in grave jeopardy.
While coal, oil and gas literally fuel the climate emergency, which is already preventing the full enjoyment of a range of human rights with disproportionate impacts on certain groups and communities, they also directly contribute to biodiversity loss, toxic pollution and water scarcity.
In fact, fossil fuels are at the heart of the planetary ecological crisis and their tremendous negative impacts on human rights are felt throughout their life cycle, from exploration and extraction to combustion and contamination.
Fossil fuels exploitation affects the rights to life, health, food, water and sanitation, education, an adequate standard of living, cultural rights, and a clean, healthy and sustainable environment with marginalised and vulnerable communities bearing the brunt of the consequences.
To address the planetary crisis and tackle the wide range of fossil fuels negative human rights impacts, States must urgently decarbonise and detoxify. Wealthy States and high emitters should lead the phase out of fossil fuels, beginning with avoiding new investments and terminating fossil fuel subsidies. They should also provide financial and other technical support to developing countries to ensure a just transition to a zero-carbon economy.
To successfully phase out fossil fuels will require strong international cooperation. States must fulfil their obligations to regulate the private sector and State-owned enterprises, to monitor compliance and enforce rules.
This requires addressing barriers to climate action, including greenwashing, undue political influence, strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs), tax evasion and avoidance, business models not fit for the 21st century, and investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanisms that empower foreign investors to block or raise the cost of climate action.
Around the world, environmental human rights defenders, Indigenous Peoples and local communities have faced rights violations while raising concerns about fossil fuels. Some have been subjected to threats, harassment, intimidation, lawsuits, violence and criminalisation as a result of their work.
Given the disproportionate political influence of the fossil fuel industry, States should protect climate action policies from the commercial and vested interests of the fossil fuel industry, following the powerful precedent set by the World Health Organization Convention on Tobacco Control.
Access to environmental information, public participation and access to justice must be guaranteed to ensure the full realisation of human rights, including the right to a healthy environment, in all contexts. Science-based information related to the climate crisis, including the dangers of carbon removal technologies and the flaws of forest-based carbon offsets, should be made easily accessible.
States must place human rights at the heart of all climate action, including mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage. This is an obligation for States, not an option.”
Agreement at COP28 to phase out fossil fuels is vital to prevent climate & human rights catastrophe. (Amnesty International)
An agreement at the COP28 summit to end the production and use of fossil fuels is vital to prevent a global climate catastrophe and stop an unprecedented human rights crisis which threatens the rights of billions of people from escalating, Amnesty International said today.
In a briefing titled, Fatal Fuels, Amnesty International calls for parties at COP28, which starts later this month, to agree to a full, fair, fast and funded phase out of fossil fuels and a human rights compliant transition to renewable power which facilitates access to energy for all.
“For decades the fossil fuel industry has spread disinformation about the climate crisis. The truth is that fossil fuels are endangering our future by wreaking havoc on the global climate and creating a human rights crisis of unprecedented scale,” said Candy Ofime, Amnesty International’s Legal Advisor on Climate Justice.
“If new fossil fuel projects go ahead we will fail to limit global warming this century to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and stave off catastrophic climate damage. COP28 is the time for states to agree to move beyond the fossil fuel era and leave behind its shameful record of climate damage and human rights abuses.
“The fossil fuel industry generates enormous wealth for relatively few corporate actors and states, which have a vested interest in blocking a just transition to renewable energy, and silencing opponents. These efforts endanger everyone’s right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
“Fossil fuels are finite and trying to extract every last drop of oil, cubic foot of fossil gas, or tonne of coal prolongs and worsens the enormous damage they have already caused. Alternatives are at hand and renewable energy output is growing fast but much more investment is needed. COP28 must set a fast and equitable course for a sustainable future free of fossil fuels.”
The extraction and burning of fossil fuels, and the resultant accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, notably carbon dioxide, is the primary cause of global heating which is making extreme weather events such as storms, drought and floods more frequent and intense.
This is leading to loss of life, damage to property and infrastructure, wrecked livelihoods, disrupted ecosystems and reduced biodiversity, failed harvests and food scarcity, intensified competition for resources, and conflict and displacement, which are all associated with a range of human rights abuses.
Air pollution directly related to the combustion of fossil fuels contributed to 1.2 million deaths in 2020. Communities living near fossil fuel facilities are often directly harmed by pollutants known to cause respiratory illnesses, adverse pregnancy outcomes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.
Coal mining and fracking generate toxic waste that can contaminate water sources. Gas flaring releases toxic air pollutants. People living in “sacrifice zones” most exposed to these harms are often already subject to intersecting forms of discrimination.
Exploration, production and transportation of fossil fuels often entails devastating pollution and environmental degradation.
Amnesty International has for decades documented oil spills and the resultant harms suffered by communities in the Niger Delta where Shell and other companies have undermined local communities’ human rights to an adequate standard of living, clean water, and health, and denied them effective remedies.
Indigenous peoples are disproportionately impacted because much of the planet’s remaining fossil fuel resources are situated under their ancestral land, and exploitative companies often infringe on these communities’ rights to information, public participation and free, prior and informed consent.
For example, Amnesty International has shown how Adivasi communities in India affected by coal mining are rarely properly consulted before their land is acquired, ecosystems decimated and livelihoods jeopardized.
The right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment was recognized by the UN Human Rights Council in 2021 and the UN General Assembly in 2022 and is enshrined in the national constitutions of more than 100 countries. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights explicitly recognize that companies have a responsibility to “do no harm”.
Environmental human rights defenders, including those opposed to the production and use of fossil fuels, have increasingly been targeted and even killed for their advocacy in recent years. Some fossil fuel companies have sought to silence climate defenders through the use of so-called “strategic lawsuits against public participation” (SLAPPs).
Fossil fuel companies have funded think tanks to draft and propose laws to clamp down on or criminalize climate and environmental protesters. Amnesty International campaigns to protect the right to protest, and the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
Many fossil fuel companies seek to shape public opinion through greenwashing and disinformation, evade regulation through the lobbying of lawmakers and regulators, and influence multilateral forums such as COPs, which can delay states’ actions to address the climate crisis. COP28 is chaired by Sultan Al Jaber, the chief executive of the UAE’s state oil company, which is a clear conflict of interests.
Fatal Fuels recommends that all currently untapped fossil fuel resources remain in the ground forever. Industrialized and other high greenhouse gas emitting countries in the G20, as well as high income fossil fuel producing states, must agree to quickly lead the way by stopping the expansion of oil, gas and coal production. Others must then follow. In addition, there must be a significant reduction in the extraction of fossil fuels for non-energy purposes, such as the manufacturing of plastics.
The vast subsidies states spend supporting fossil fuel use and production must end through a process which ensures there are adequate social protections in place to shield the poorest and most marginalized.
Fossil fuel and energy companies cannot be allowed to rely on unproven technologies, such as carbon capture and storage, which their lobbyists frequently promote, to delay change. They should refrain from lobbying lawmakers, and greenwashing, which makes it more difficult for the public to access accurate information about climate science.
Financial institutions must cease investing in new activities that drive fossil fuel expansion, and phase out existing funding on a timeframe aligned with the target agreed internationally to keep global warming to below 1.5°C this century.
Developed countries, historically the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, need to deliver on their commitments to provide adequate climate finance to developing states to achieve an equitable and human rights-consistent phase out of existing fossil fuel production globally, facilitating a just transition to renewable sources of power.
* The COP28 climate summit runs from 30 November to 12 December and is being held in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), one of the world’s largest oil and gas producers.
Why is the climate crisis also a human rights crisis? (Human Rights Watch)
COP28, the 28th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, will bring together state parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as well as thousands of experts, journalists, climate activists, community members, and representatives from businesses and nongovernmental groups. It is a forum for states to discuss how to confront the climate crisis that is taking a growing toll on human rights around the globe.
Despite growing urgency, the meetings have largely failed to result in the necessary cuts in greenhouse gas emissions or to adequately support a transition to renewable energy, protecting those hardest hit by floods, drought, hurricanes, and other climate-related disasters.
Why is the climate crisis also a human rights crisis?
The right to live in a healthy environment is a human right that has been recognized around the world. The climate crisis also affects many human rights, including the right to life and the rights to housing, food, and water.
From burning forests, to sweltering cities, to parched farmlands, to storm-battered coasts, the climate crisis is taking a mounting toll on lives and livelihoods around the globe. Increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere, caused primarily by burning fossil fuels, trap heat with profound consequences. Harm is already being felt, and the speed and scale will increase exponentially and erratically for the foreseeable future.
About 3.5 billion people already live in contexts that are highly vulnerable to climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently warned. By 2050, more than a billion people living on small islands and in low-lying coastal communities and settlements are projected to be at risk from sea level rise and extreme weather.
Climate change aggravates existing social and economic inequalities. Both acute disasters and longer-term changes like multi-year droughts are far worse for low-income and marginalized communities that governments have already failed to protect.
Individuals with intersecting marginalized identities and vulnerabilities can have an even greater chance of dying, increasing poverty, or losing important resources because of climate change. Those affected include people with low incomes, Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, older people, people with disabilities, women and pregnant people, children, and migrant workers. These groups are also most at risk of being left behind when disasters occur. Governments should budget to protect people’s human rights from climate harm.
Yet, the capacity of low- and middle-income governments to fulfill the rights of the most at-risk populations could become severely strained and, in many places, broken.
Governments’ ability to confront the climate crisis will most likely depend, in large measure, on what governments are doing today to uphold the rights of those already experiencing the impact of climate change and to address the underlining industries and economic policies that cause it.
The climate crisis necessitates supporting non-fossil fuel-based economies and political systems that center ending economic marginalization, racism, ableism, ageism, misogyny, and other forms of discrimination.
What is at stake for human rights at COP28?
In March 2023, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s leading authority on climate science, confirmed that the world is warming at record levels and warned that governments are failing to take sufficient action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The panel urged governments to cut emissions by phasing out fossil fuels, halting deforestation, and scaling up renewable energy.
To fulfill their human rights obligation to address climate change, at this year’s COP, governments need to ensure a just and equitable transition to renewable energy and help people adapt to the impact of the climate crisis. They can do that by calling for the equitable and rights-respecting phasing out of all fossil fuels in the COP28 conclusions.
Governments at COP28 should make a commitment not to authorize new fossil fuel projects. In addition, they should end all forms of support, including subsidies and international finance, for oil, gas, and coal developments to rapidly reduce emissions and to limit the impacts of climate change.
Governments should also commit to upholding the rights of communities directly affected by fossil fuel operations, including the people working and living in and around sites of fossil fuel exploration, production, storage, transport, refining, use, and disposal.
Governments should ensure their participation and representation in decision-making on fossil fuel operations and climate change. It is particularly important to ensure participation of groups historically excluded, such as people with disabilities.
Two years ago at COP26 in Glasgow, governments made a commitment to phase down the use of coal. But last year, at COP27 in Egypt, a group of 81 countries made an ultimately unsuccessful push to include the phase out of all fossil fuels in the final text of the outcome document. The push was stymied by Saudi Arabia, other Gulf states ans fossil fuel exporting countries, the Guardian reported.
Why is a fossil fuel phase out necessary to realize human rights?
There is growing consensus, including from the International Energy Agency and the Intergovernmental Panel that for governments to meet global climate targets there cannot be new oil, gas, or coal projects.
Burning of fossil fuels is the primary driver of the climate crisis, accounting for over 80 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, existing fossil fuel projects are already more than the climate can withstand to limit global warming to an increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius required to prevent a global climate collapse.
Nevertheless, governments continue to authorize – and subsidize – building fossil fuel infrastructure and poorly regulate existing operations. The fossil fuel industry deflects public and political pressure on its core operations, most recently by claiming that its operations can become “net zero.”
Why are robust regulations essential to ensure that carbon markets uphold human rights and support effective climate action, and which rules should be adopted at COP28?
COP28 should ensure the global carbon market contemplated under Article 6.4 of the Paris Agreement is strictly regulated to uphold rights, support climate action, and provide a remedy for harm. These are vital issues given that state parties to the agreement, corporations, and other private entities are rapidly developing their presence in the market, even while safeguards in most countries range from inadequate to nonexistent.
Carbon markets trade in carbon credits, which are supposed to represent carbon dioxide that has been removed from, or prevented from being emitted into, the atmosphere by projects ranging from forest conservation to clean energy, among others. Many corporations and governments purchase carbon credits to claim they offset their own pollution.
Yet, many carbon credits traded in those markets do not actually represent permanently removed carbon or avoided emissions. These hot air credits undermine climate action when they are used to offset pollution, as no overall emissions reductions actually take place.
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30 Nov. 2023
Loss and Damage Fund adopted at opening plenary of COP28 (agencies)
Delegates meeting in Dubai at the COP28 climate talks have agreed on the operationalization of a loss and damage fund intended to help compensate vulnerable countries cope with loss and damage caused by climate change.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres welcomed the agreement to operationalize the fund calling it an essential tool to deliver climate justice. He urged leaders to support the fund.
The fund has been a long-standing demand of developing nations on the frontlines of climate change coping with the ever increasing costs of the devastation caused by increasingly extreme weather events such as drought, floods, and rising seas.
The cost of loss and damage for developing countries is projected to reach $400 billion per year by 2030.
Following the agreement, a handful of countries promised contributions to the start-up phase of the fund. Germany and the United Arab Emirates committed $100 million each, followed by the United Kingdom ($50.5m), the United States ($17.5m) and Japan ($10m). EU member states, including Germany, are expected to collectively deliver at least $245m.
The relatively paltry contribution from the US – the world’s largest economy – attracted immediate criticism. Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, called it “embarrassing".
Significantly more money will be needed to help vulnerable communities benefit from the new mechanism once it gets up and running. The fund is designed to receive contributions “from a wide variety of sources”, including grants and cheap loans from the public and private sectors, and “innovative sources”.
“Innovative sources” of finance could mean taxes on fossil fuels and financial transactions, carbon taxes on international aviation or shipping and the like. France and Kenya are set to launch a coalition at Cop28 to further develop options.
The World Bank is set to initially host the fund for four years, despite strong resistance to its involvement from developing countries and non government agencies. Developing countries have opposed the role for the World Bank, raising concerns over high costs, slow procedures and the predominant US influence on the institution. They grudgingly accepted the compromise to progress the fund, with certain conditions attached to World Bank involvement and a phase out/review of the role of the bank after four years.
All developing countries “particularly vulnerable” to the effects of climate change will be eligible to benefit from the mechanism. However, the definition of vulnerability is not detailed in the text.
Developed nations have sought to broaden the pool of donors expected to contribute to the fund, but have made limited headway. The text “urges” developed countries to provide financial resources to the fund, while other nations are only “encouraged” to do so “on a voluntary basis”.
The EU climate chief, Wopke Hoekstra, said China and petrostates like the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar should pay into the fund. Others want to broaden the donor base to countries with high-emitting economies categorised by the UN as developing nations like South Korea and Russia.
Civil society experts have said much more work lies ahead and, ultimately, the success of the fund will depend on how much money it is equipped with. The cost of loss and damage for developing countries is projected to reach $400 billion per year by 2030.
“Although rules have been agreed regarding how the fund will operate there are no hard deadlines, no targets and countries are not obligated to pay into it,” said Adow. “The most pressing issue now is to get money flowing into the fund and to the people that need it.”
Civil Society reactions: Loss and Damage Fund adopted at COP28
Harjeet Singh, Head of Global Political Strategy, Climate Action Network International:
“Amid the historic decision to operationalise the Loss and Damage Fund within a year of its establishment, addressing underlying concerns becomes critical. On one hand, rich countries have pushed for the World Bank to host this Fund under the guise of ensuring a speedy response. Conversely, they have attempted to dilute their financial obligations and resisted defining a clear finance mobilisation scale.
“The absence of a defined replenishment cycle raises serious questions about the Fund’s long-term sustainability. Therefore, a robust system, particularly integrated with the Global Stocktake process and the new climate finance goal, is needed to ensure that COP28 results in a meaningful outcome.
“The responsibility now lies with affluent nations to meet their financial obligations in a manner proportionate to their role in the climate crisis, which has been primarily driven by decades of unrestrained fossil fuel consumption and a lack of adequate climate finance delivered to the Global South.”
Tasneem Essop, Executive Director, Climate Action Network:
“A key issue to be addressed head on at this COP is that it delivers an outcome that deals with the need to justly and equitably phase out fossil fuels. We have had a record breaking year of global climate impacts and a number of alarming reports telling us that we are going in the wrong direction".
Rachel Cleetus, policy director and lead economist for the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, highlighted that we are in the midst of a climate crisis falling disproportionately on marginalised and disadvantaged people:
“The consensus recommendations for operationalizing the Loss and Damage Fund are far from perfect yet are an important step forward and should be quickly adopted at COP28. Richer nations–including the United States–must also live up to their responsibility and provide robust resources for the Fund. The needs are immense and crushing for low- and middle-income nations already reeling from billions of dollars of damages and an immense human toll from extreme climate impacts. Moving this agreement forward expeditiously will also create the space for addressing other pressing issues, including the phase out of fossil fuels which are the root cause of climate change and loss and damage.”
Andreas Sieber, Associate Director of Policy at 350.org:
“We welcome the fund, but rich countries were quick in trying to marginalize the fund by setting a very low bar for contributions. The needs of affected communities are in the hundreds of billions, not millions. This can only be the start and must be urgently followed up with significantly increased pledges.”
Landry Ninteretse Africa Director 350.org:
“The step towards operationalizing the Loss and Damage fund is a promising start to the climate talks. The urgency of the climate crisis requires that we move with speed to translate this to action and work towards the delivery of financing to communities that continue to bear the brunt of the climate crisis in the most climate-vulnerable regions. It is time for big polluters in line with their historic emissions to pay up to deliver justice to those disproportionately affected by their reliance on fossil fuels.”
Joseph Sikulu, 350.org Pacific Director:
“For a region that has already seen so much destruction due to the climate crisis, the Loss and Damage fund is crucial to ensuring our communities can move through this world with dignity. So many of our voices, leaders, and negotiators continue to fight to ensure this fund is operationalized quickly and effectively. We celebrate today’s win, but there is an elephant in the room, without a commitment to phase out fossil fuels this is an open chasm, more fossil fuels means more loss and damage. Unless high emitting nations also commit to a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels at COP28, the Loss and Damage fund will be blood money, paying for the destruction of our islands.”
Ani Dasgupta, President & CEO, World Resources Institute:
“The loss and damage fund will be a lifeline to people in their darkest hour, enabling families to rebuild their homes after disaster strikes, support farmers when their crops are wiped out and relocate those that become permanently displaced by rising seas. This outcome was hard-fought but is a clear step forward.
“The success of this fund will depend on the speed and scale at which funds start flowing to people in need. We call on world leaders to announce substantial contributions at Cop28 – not only to cover start-up costs but also to fill the fund itself. People in vulnerable countries will face up to $580bn in climate-related damages in 2030 and this number will only continue to grow.”
Fanny Petitbon, head of advocacy for Care France:
“Today is a landmark day for climate justice, but clearly not the end of the fight. We hope the agreement will result in rapid delivery of support for communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis. However, it has many shortcomings. It enables historical emitters to evade their responsibility. It also fails to establish the scale of finance needed and ensure that the fund is anchored in human rights principles.
“The loss and damage fund must not remain an empty promise. We urgently call on all governments who are most responsible for the climate emergency and have the capacity to contribute to announce significant pledges in the form of grants. Historical emitters must lead the way. Financial commitments must not be about robbing Peter to pay Paul: funding must be new and additional.”
Mariana Paoli, Christian Aid’s global advocacy lead:
“The fact that the World Bank is to be the interim host of the fund is a worry for developing countries. It needs to be closely scrutinised to ensure vulnerable communities are able to get easy and direct access to funds and the whole operation is run with far more transparency than the World Bank normally operates on. These were the conditions agreed by countries and if they are not kept to, a separate arrangement will be needed.
“It’s now vital we see the fund filled. People who have contributed the least to the climate crisis are already suffering climate losses and damages. The longer they are forced to wait for financial support to cover these costs, the greater the injustice. At Cop28 we need to see significant new and additional pledges of money to the loss and damage fund, and not just repackaged climate finance that has already been committed.”
http://climatenetwork.org/2023/11/30/historic-loss-and-damage-fund-adopted-at-opening-plenary-of-cop28/ http://350.org/press-release/cop28-350-org-responds-to-agreement-for-loss-and-damage-fund/ http://news.un.org/en/story/2023/11/1144162 http://wmo.int/news/media-centre/2023-shatters-climate-records-major-impacts http://www.socialprotectionfloorscoalition.org/2023/12/cop28-global-coalition-for-social-protection-floors-calls-for-building-social-protection-systems-to-deal-with-loss-and-damage/ http://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2023/11/global-initial-pledges-at-cop28-to-finance-the-loss-damage-fund-fall-far-short-of-what-is-needed/ http://thebulletin.org/2023/12/cop28-creates-fund-for-vulnerable-countries-for-loss-and-damage-from-climate-change-but-will-it-reach-vulnerable-people/ http://sites.udel.edu/climatechangehub/rising-global-economic-lossdamage-report2023/
* Loss & Colloboration News (30/11):
http://www.lossanddamagecollaboration.org/link-page/loss-and-damage-collaboration-l-dc-master-document-for-cop-28 http://larutadelclima.org/english/reparations/ http://www.germanclimatefinance.de/2023/11/29/making-the-loss-and-damage-fund-operational-and-adequately-equipped-key-tasks-for-cop28/ http://climateanalytics.org/comment/safeguards-and-exit-points-for-the-world-bank-as-host-of-the-loss-and-damage-fund http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/nov/29/why-loss-and-damage-funds-are-key-to-climate-justice-for-developing-countries-at-cop28 http://www.context.news/climate-justice/opinion/community-voices-are-essential-for-a-just-loss-and-damage-fund http://genevasolutions.news/climate-environment/why-loss-damage-fund-alone-will-not-redress-climate-harm http://www.development-today.com/archive/2023/dt-8--2023/loss-and-damage-fund-could-make-or-break-cop28.-the-presidency-aims-for-an-early-win-dt-is-told http://www.context.news/climate-justice/opinion/its-time-to-put-our-money-where-our-mouths-are http://news.mongabay.com/2023/11/climate-loss-damage-fund-the-furthest-thing-imaginable-from-a-success/ http://www.lossanddamagecollaboration.org/news
Climate-related extreme weather events are happening all over the world with the poorest and most marginalized the worst impacted.
Countries and communities, disproportionately those in the developing world, are being severly impacted by floods, droughts and cyclones, and suffering the consequences of a steady sea-level rise.
They are paying the price of the rich historical emitters and those who continue to expand fossil fuels, further exacerbating the crisis.
The writing is on the wall, countries have gone past the point where adaptation alone can arrest the climate impacts. Losses and damages are happening with ever growing economic and non-economic costs.
The unfortunate reality is all of this is expected to worsen because collective efforts to limit global warming are falling short.
This means that development in the global South will be further eroded, and its people, who are least responsible for the crisis, will bear the brunt of it — through displacement, loss of infrastructure, lives, and livelihoods.
Countries and communities incurring significant costs associated with climate change-induced loss and damage need and deserve as a matter of justice urgent financial support.
The world can no longer afford to delay in assisting developing countries and communities experiencing catastrophic losses and damages from climate events.
170 Humanitarian, Climate and Development organisations issue a joint call to demand Loss and Damage Funding:
In an era marked by the increasingly palpable ramifications of climate change, the interplay between its impacts and humanitarian crises has intensified.
Marginalised and vulnerable communities in the developing countries, despite their minimal contribution to climate adversities, find themselves grappling not only with the direct climatic and environmental consequences of climate change but also with a myriad of pre-existing humanitarian and developmental challenges.
These communities are also confronting both historical and systemic inequalities, underscoring the urgent need for climate justice.
At COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh in 2022, a landmark agreement was forged, establishing a fund and funding arrangements to provide crucial financial support to address loss and damage.
It is vital for the humanitarian, development, peace, human rights, and climate communities to operate in tandem. Their unified voice is crucial in ensuring the delivery of loss and damage finance to the affected communities.
By fostering collaboration, we can secure a more holistic, comprehensive, and effective approach, reinforcing our commitment to safeguarding the rights, protection, dignity, and livelihoods of those most affected by the multifaceted challenges of climate change.
We are witnessing and enduring the repercussions of human-induced climate change everywhere, yet the impacts are disproportionately burdening those least responsible for causing the climate crisis, and it is only poised to worsen.
The scale, frequency, and duration of climate-related extreme weather events are escalating, presenting new challenges due to slow onset processes such as sea level rise, loss of biodiversity, and the accelerating pace of desertification, all of which demand attention.
While communities, domestic responders, and humanitarians are at the frontlines of this crisis, the overwhelming and escalating needs far surpass their capacities to absorb and recover from shocks. Moreover, the existing humanitarian financing system is ill-equipped to adequately respond to multiple and compounding climate impacts.
To address both economic and non-economic loss and damage arising from slow-onset processes and rapid-onset events, there is a need for a substantial increase in finance and in national capacities, through the Loss and Damage Fund, which can be accessed by countries and communities promptly.
This is crucial to prevent communities from unjustly suffering the current, immediate, and prolonged ill-effects of human-induced climate change. Consequently, additional resources are essential to address loss and damage, thereby complementing the role played by the humanitarian system.
We are joining together to support the urgent calls for loss and damage finance under the UNFCCC based on four priorities: access, adequacy, additionality, and accountability.
Access: All developing countries necessitate and are entitled to loss and damage finance based on the principles of equity, justice and human rights. Special attention must be accorded to ensure that particularly marginalised and climate-vulnerable communities and individuals, on the frontline today and in the future, are able to access the loss and damage finance they need, as directly as possible.
This must align with Grand Bargain commitments on localisation. Access should also be flexible, multi-year, timely, transparent, equitable and administratively light in the context of rapid-onset and slow-onset impacts.
Adequacy: Climate change is indisputably costly, with the annual costs already amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars in developing countries. As the frequency, scale, and duration of climate-induced extreme weather events and impacts of slow-onset events escalate, more and more people will continue to be affected in ways that surpass their capacity to fully recover from these recurrent calamities.
Therefore, substantial financial resources are not merely desirable; they are essential. This includes fulfilling commitments for new and additional climate finance and addressing the shortfall in humanitarian finance. It is crucial that loss and damage finance is appropriately scaled to fully cover both the economic and non-economic costs of rehabilitation and reconstruction for affected communities.
CALL TO ACTION:
As climate threats escalate, prioritising substantial, timely, and accessible funding to support those most vulnerable to climate change is more than a moral duty – it’s an existential imperative.
Initiate immediate measures to address the scale of loss and damage finance. This encompasses fulfilling commitments for new and additional climate finance, closing the gap in humanitarian finance, and scaling loss and damage finance to fully address the rehabilitation and reconstruction needs of impacted communities. Moreover, ensure that communities are equipped with the necessary tools to build resilience against future climate-related risks.
Timely, flexible, predictable, multi-year funding support for both rapid-onset and slow-onset impacts, enabling affected individuals and communities to rebuild their lives and livelihoods.
Inclusive and equitable access to loss and damage finance by developing countries, with a special emphasis on enabling leadership and direct access for local actors, marginalised and vulnerable communities. Empower these communities with skills and resources to prepare, respond and recover from climate impacts.
Unequivocal commitment and accountability from historical polluter countries to provide grant-based financing for loss and damage, emphasising that this finance must be genuinely new and additional to Official Development Assistance (ODA).
Prohibit any double counting or relabelling of funds and maintain transparency and adherence to the principles of human rights, equity, and Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR-RC) in allocations for loss and damage finance. The Loss and Damage Fund must institute robust systems to manage funds transparently, ensuring they are accounted for separately according to agreed criteria.
Both recipient and contributing nations must uphold unwavering integrity in implementing measures consistent with human rights to empower impacted individuals and communities amidst climate-related challenges.
This is the year in which governments must unite to formally establish and provide adequate funding for a Loss and Damage Facility for communities unjustly affected by climate change. We stand in solidarity with them, unified as humanitarian, development, peace, human rights, and climate communities in our urgent call.
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http://www.iied.org/tackling-loss-damage-vulnerable-countries-improving-evidence-co-generating-pathways-impact http://www.iied.org/21891iied http://www.lossanddamagecollaboration.org/publication/the-loss-and-damage-finance-landscape http://taxonslessuperprofits.carefrance.org/en/ http://www.ciel.org/loss-and-damage-fund-tc1/
* United Nations Conference on Trade and Development report: Taking Responsibility - Towards a Fit for Purpose Loss & Damage Fund. Chapter 3: Innovative sources of financing for funding Loss and Damage: http://unctad.org/publication/taking-responsibility-towards-fit-purpose-loss-and-damage-fund
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