Loss and damage: Developing countries seek justice 1

Loss and damage: Developing countries seek justice

Renee Juliene Karunungan

Posted at Sep 02 2015 04:11 AM | Updated as of Sep 02 2015 12:11 PM

Loss and damage: Developing countries seek justice 2
Photo by Renee Juliene Karunungan

Bonn, Germany - Young people protested at the second day of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) 2, calling for loss and damage to become an essential part of the agreement that will be agreed upon in the conference of parties (COP) 21 in Paris on December.

Loss and damage is a term used to say that countries, which are mostly responsible for the climate change because of their carbon emissions, must pay other countries who have suffered and currently suffering “losses” and “damages” from climate change impacts. Saleemul Huq from Responding to Climate Change (RTCC) put these terms in simple definitions where “losses” mean “complete loss of something such as human lives, habitats, and species…something that cannot be brought back forever once lost” and “damages” mean “something that can be repared, such as roads or buildings.”

Loss and damage became a core issue during the COP19 in Warsaw, Poland, which happened at the same time Haiyan (Yolanda) was devastating the Philippines. Then climate change commissioner and negotiator Naderev Yeb Sano, put forward the issue asking countries to clearly differentiate humanitarian aid and climate change compensation in context of historical responsibility.

This historical responsibility of climate change falls on the shoulders of the big country emitters like the United States, which accounts for 0.15 degrees celsius of global warming. Other countries are China, Brazil, and India.

Climate change has impacted many developing countries like the Philippines. In Haiyan alone, the Philippines accounted more than 6,000 loss of lives. Tuvalu and Kiribati are currently dealing with sinking lands due to sea level rise. And as climate talks began in Bonn, Dominica was suffering the aftermath of tropical storm Erika.

“It is important to have mechanisms where developing countries are compensated for the losses and damages which developed countries have caused,” Jeanne Martin, a young person from UK Youth Climate Coalition who joined the protest, said.

“As a young person from UK, I believe we are responsible for some of the losses and damages other countries are facing, and it is our duty as citizens to compensate what we have done to developing countries because of our carbon emissions. We may not be the biggest emitters today but we cannot just forget about our past emissions and say that it did not cause loss and damage developing countries are facing today,” Martin added.

According to Climate Justice Info, the current negotiating text has been divided into three parts: the first part is seen more as legally binding and the ones which should go in an “agreement”, the second part is seen as less legally binding and those which should go in a “decision”, and part 3 contains everything else that is unclear. Part 3 is also called the “graveyard” section of the text. Loss and damage is currently in part 3 of the negotiating text.

Protesters and developing countries like Dominica are pushing for loss and damage to be put back in part 1. However, developed countries seem reluctant.

“Our negotiator from UK said she disagreed with loss and damage because we are not the biggest carbon emitter today,” Martin said.

Countries such as Bolivia have been frustrated with this development: “Given the science and urgency, saying we don’t have clarity on loss and damage is equivalent to injustice and climate denial.”

The protesters believe that loss and damage is the missing puzzle piece to the negotiating text. “Loss and damage is the missing piece. Justice for the impacted people!” they chanted as negotiators entered the halls of the World Conference Center where the ADP2 is being held. They can only hope that their chants do not fall into deaf ears.

Renee Juliene Karunungan, 25, is advocacy director of Dakila. Dakila has been campaigning for climate justice since 2009. She is also a climate tracker for Adopt A Negotiator.

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