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Negotiations and Political Discussions on Loss and Damage at COP 23

  • Published at 12:22 am December 14th, 2017
Negotiations and Political Discussions on Loss and Damage at COP 23
The global community is struggling to structure the climate change policy regime for last 25 years. Currently, in their 23rd session the members of Conference Of the Parties (COP) at their second Paris Agreement 2015, are negotiating to adopt the Paris Rulebook. The Rulebook outlines procedures for implementation according to the Paris Agreement. The Fiji Momentum for Implementation, (FMFI) agreed to adopt the Rulebook so as long they were provided further guidance to finalize the rules and procedures. There is still a need for critical, technical and political negotiations to agree on the Paris Rulebook, as it needs to take into account the additional political challenges including the expression of intention of USA to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. In absence of well defined policy guidance, necessary actions and support for mitigation and adaptation, climate change induced loss and damage has become a reality now. Different regions of the world face a number of severe climate related weather events and disasters this year alone. It has disrupted the lives and livelihoods of millions of people all over the world. There have been significant economic and noneconomic losses and damages particularly in developing countries. The loss and damage resulting from climate change has influenced COP 23’s decision, as they expressed their concerns over the increasing frequency and severity of climate-related disasters. The Paris Agreement addresses losses and damages brought forth by climate change in a separate Article 8 of the Paris Agreement. However, the specific proposals to introduce a financial mechanism to compensate for loss and damage did not survive at the final round of the negotiations. The development of financial mechanisms to tackle loss and damage remains the key issue for further negotiation. Climate vulnerable countries, in particular Least Developed Countries (LDCs), the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and African Group (AGN) are proposing for establishing a specific financial mechanism to support the activities related to loss and damage at national and international levels. At COP 23, G77 and China proposed to establish an expert group on action and support for loss and damage within the framework of the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM), with the aim to explore the financial entities and mechanisms to support such issues. But, due to strong opposition from developed countries, the decision was overturned. However, COP 23 decision still provides the scope of establishing such expert groups under WIM in the future. Apart from the concerns for financial mechanisms for loss and damage, G77 and China proposed a permanent agenda item for Subsidiary Bodies (SBs), so that SBs can consider loss and damage issues at each of its sessions for providing technical and political guidance. The function of WIM is to act to enhance knowledge, coordination and coherence, action and support for addressing loss and damage. WIM is mandated to report back to COP annually. Parties from developing countries has sought to broaden the scope of activities and political discussions on this issue at regular meetings of SBs. It appears, it is now limited to the WIM framework. Nevertheless, the Executive Committee of WIM has implemented an initial two year work plan and has also developed a five year rolling work plan, which will come into play after its approval at COP 23. The Executive Committee of WIM, has also established some expert groups and a Task Force for Displacement. In the context of the evolution of WIM, SBs, as technical bodies of the UNFCCC and can provide technical and political guidance on loss and damage related issues. This is precisely having it on as a permanent agenda item of SBs is imperative, especially from the perspectives of implementation of political discussions, in line with other streams of climate change policies including mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology and capacity building. A consensus was finally made to organize an expert dialogue to explore a wide range of information, inputs and views on ways for facilitating the mobilisation and securing of expertise, and enhancement of support, including finance, technology and capacity-building, for averting, minimising and addressing loss and damage at the next SBs 48, to be held in May 2018. The intention to organize such a dialogue is to generate information and knowledge, which will be useful for preparing a technical paper on financial resources when addressing loss and damage. This paper will also play an important role in the review process of WIM in 2019. The coming years are very as the Executive Committee of WIM, will be implementing its rolling five year work plan from 2018, an expert dialogue will also be held in May 2018 the review of WIM will take place at COP 25, in 2019. There are some deadlines for important submissions on different issues, including finance and the rolling five year workplan, which will be evaluated in 2020. Furthermore, WIM will act under the CMA, as the Paris Agreement has anchored the WIM and the relevant transformation processes will provide further legal and political dimensions for loss and damage discussions. LDCs need to develop a clear strategy to be engaged in loss and damage negotiations and political discussions effectively, in order to establish, specifically a financial mechanism for loss and damage, appropriate structures and functions of WIM and to implement loss and damage related activities at national and international levels.   M. Hafijul Islam Khan, Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh, & working with Centre for Climate Justice-Bangladesh (CCJ-B) and International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) Dr. Saleemul Huq, Director, International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD)