301122E – NYUSI CHAIRS COP27 PANEL ON DAMAGE AND LOSSES
Maputo, 9 Nov (AIM) –Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Tuesday chaired the panel on damage and losses arising from climate change at the United Nations climate summit (COP27) at the Egyptianresort of Sharm el Sheikh.
Mozambique organized this panel in its capacity as African Champion ofDisaster Risk Reduction, a title which the African Union awarded to Nyusi in February.
Nyusi took the opportunity of the panel to present to the summit a 22 year old girl named Rosita, who was born in a tree during the enormous floods of 2000, which affected every river valley in southern Mozambique. Nyusi said Rosita was an example of resilience and of the capacity of women to adapt to adverse phenomena.
The President said that, although the world is generally prepared to provide post-disaster assistance, this is at the expense of actions of adaptation which could reduce, or avoid altogether, the losses and damage arising from disaster.
“Climate change does not respect borders, and no country can escape”, warned Nyusi, “Supporting countries with few resources in the defence of humanity is to invest in the survival of each state”.
Poor countries are investing in adaptation and resilience, but their financial capacity is very limited, he added. “The African continent is doing a great deal to mitigate and reduce disaster risk”, sad Nyusi. “But the results of this work are being annulled by a range of factors such as the scarcity of financial resources, and institutional fragility”.
He warned that Africa is currently going through the worst drought of the past 40 years, affecting more than 50 million people.In addition, there have recently been major floods in countries such as South Africa, Nigeria and South Sudan, in which over a thousand people have died.
The question of compensation for “damage and losses” suffered by developing countries due to climate change has risen towards the top of the COP27 agenda. Indeed, disputes over the agenda lasted for 40 hours over the weekend and delayed the start of the conference on Monday – the upshot of these debates was that developing countries succeeded in putting the issue of “loss and damage” onto the agenda.
This is the recognition that, historically, the developing world burnt fossil fuels in order to industrialise. The costs of that industrialization were born by the developing countries, and those who favour establishing a “loss and damage” fundargue that that the rich world should pay for the devastation caused in the past.
But persuading rich countries to pay for the losses caused to the poor countries is an enormous task. For example, Mozambique is still trying to raise two billion US dollars to repairthe damage done by cyclones Idai andKenneth in 2019, cyclones made worse by the climate crisis. Despite repeated promises made over the past three years, the money is still not available to rehouse all the cyclone victimsand rebuild all the ruined infrastructures.
The situation is predicted to worsen. The cost to developing countries of loss and damage will be two trillion dollars per year by 2030 – one thousand times the damage done by cyclones Idai and Kenneth, according to a report issued on Tuesday (8 Nov) by the Independent High-Level Expert Group on Climate Finance.
This expert group is chaired by Nicholas Stern, who wrote the landmark 2006 review of the economics of climate change. The new report says at least one trillion dollars per year must come from rich countries and development banks, and contrasts this need with ‘the failure to deliver the climate finance commitment of 100 billion dollars per year by 2020 made by developed countries at successive COPs.’
Some right-wing politicians have rejected out of hand the payment of climate compensation. The former British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, showed up in Egypt on Monday, partly to embarrass the current British PM, Rishi Sunak, and partly to reject any concept of payment for “damage and loss”.
“Per capita, people in the UK put a lot of carbon into the atmosphere,” said Johnson. “But what we cannot do, I’m afraid, is make up for that with some sort of reparations, we simply do not have the financial resources.”
An appropriate response came from Mia Mottley, prime minister of Barbados, who spoke for the developing world in a blistering attack on industrialised nations at COP27. She said the prosperity – and high carbon emissions – of the rich world had been achieved at the expense of the poor in times past, and now the poor were being forced to pay again, as victims of climate breakdown that they did not cause.
“We were the ones whose blood, sweat and tears financed the industrial revolution,” she said. “Are we now to face double jeopardy by having to pay the cost as a result of those greenhouse gases from the industrial revolution? That is fundamentally unfair.”