16 November 2022, Sharm El-Sheikh, COP27 - As negotiations at COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh continues, two Pacific nations whose populations are at the mercy of worsening climate change impacts, have issued a desperate plea to world leaders and negotiators to ensure a deal is reached on Loss and Damage funding in Egypt.
The Republic of Palau’s Minister of State, Hon. Gustav N. Aitaro and the Federated States of Micronesia’s Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Emergency Management, Hon. Andrew R. Yatilman, have renewed the plea in light of what they describe as “stonewalling” tactics, as the meeting draws to a close.
“We would like to convey our concerns about the process that has been presented to us today,” the Ministers said in a joint statement. “We came to COP27 with much enthusiasm, we were pleased that Loss and Damage had been accepted on the agenda. However, today we have been told that at this COP27, we are not expected to address the issue of financing in Loss and Damage.
“To be stonewalled like this is disappointing. We’ve crossed oceans, mountains, rivers to come here to address this issue. This latest development is yet another challenge we face on top of dealing with the impacts of the climate crisis.”
For both countries, Loss and Damage is a lived reality.
In the Republic of Palau, Hon. Aitaro said: “Before I left Palau two weeks ago, we had a small typhoon, it ravaged our commercial state of Koror, it damaged homes, businesses and infrastructure.
“Every time we have a typhoon, we have to shift funds and budgets allocated for breakfast for students to address the damage, we have to shift funds from our hospital to address the damage, and it becomes such a big burden for us to look for funds to replace that.
“Please understand our situation, this is a matter of life and death and our very existence depends on this. How do I explain to young kids in Palau, the children who live on that atoll, that their homes have been damaged by typhoons and we have to rebuild them over again and again? If they ask me why is it a recurring situation, what do I tell them? Who do we blame? Our islands, our oceans is our culture, it’s our identity in this world. I’m sure our developing countries share the same concerns and this is why we are asking them to help.”
From the Federated States of Micronesia, Minister Hon. Andrew R. Yatilman’s message to the big emitters is simple.
“Provide the funding because we didn’t cause climate change,” he said.
“We’ve been hit regularly by typhoons, storms and hurricanes that are more severe. When we talk to the older people, they think of these occurrences as things that happen every decade or so. Now it is happening every year, sometimes we have two or three typhoons in a year.
“And so the losses have accumulated over the years for the FSM, it has cost us millions if not billions of dollars in loss and damage to infrastructure, agriculture and livelihoods. There is coastal erosion, destroying houses that used to be a hundred from the shorelines, this is what is happening.
Droughts have become a regular challenge, we’re having to continuously bring water to the outlying islands as droughts become more severe and frequent.”
The history of loss and damage in climate change negotiations dates back to 1991 when the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) called for a mechanism that would compensate countries affected by sea level rise.
Over time, more and more vulnerable countries realised that they too are affected by climate change that is beyond their coping capacities. The idea of a mechanism that would help them in addressing loss and damage gained wider support. The concept of loss and damage made it into a decision coming out of a COP when in 2010 the loss and damage work programme was initiated at COP16. A decade later, while the big greenhouse gas emitters have committed to talk about it, there is very little hope of something concrete happening in Sharma El-Sheikh.
THE JOINT STATEMENT FROM PALAU AND FSM:
As a small island developing country and member of the Pacific SIDS, highly vulnerable to climate change impacts we are at the frontline of climate change. We are experiencing on a daily basis loss and damage due to climate impacts on our livelihood, culture, and wellbeing.
The Pacific Island leader’s forum have declared that the Pacific region is in a state of climate emergency and underscores for climate change solutions that go beyond business as usual.
We further reiterate the commitment under the Parish Agreement for low carbon emission pathways of temperature of 1.5 degree Celsius.
We reiterate our Pacific leader’s call for a loss and damage to be part of the long-term solution through the establishment of a dedicated fit for purpose loss and damage fund at COP27.
We are looking for a decision at COP27 to establishment of the loss and damage fund and the transitional committee that will guide and define the processes and requirements on the governance arrangements and operations of the fund.
This is a call on behalf of millions of people and millions of dreams for today and tomorrow.
For further information please contact Mr Fred Pattison at [email protected]
The 27th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP27) is being held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt from 6 to 18 November 2022.
It is being attended by Pacific leaders and their delegations, who are advocating for their survival. The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) is lead of the One CROP, working together to provide support to Pacific Islands.