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Earth Today | ‘Stop playing games!’

SIDS negotiators frustrated with climate negotiations on loss and damage

Published:Thursday | November 17, 2022 | 12:06 AM
Demonstrators participate in a protest advocating for the 1.5 degree warming goal at the COP27 UN Climate Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on Wednesday.
Demonstrators participate in a protest advocating for the 1.5 degree warming goal at the COP27 UN Climate Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on Wednesday.

WITH MERE days to go before the latest United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference (COP27) is history, battle-weary negotiators from the Caribbean and other small island developing states (SIDS) have noted their frustration with the slow progress on financial arrangements for loss and damage.

According to the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), they are “gravely concerned with the lack of progress”, which has the potential to “stall talks and land a devastating blow to the hopes of the developing world for the establishment of a loss and damage funding facility”.

“If other countries continue to cast aside small islands to serve the interests of the fossil fuel industry, they cannot expect our people to swim in a stagnant pool. The tide has turned on loss and damage. Why do you continue to turn a deaf ear to the cries of our people? Why do you continue to call into question the very credibility of this process?” said AOSIS chair, Minister Molwyn Joseph of Antigua and Barbuda, in a statement to the media.

“COP27 is billed as the implementation COP. It is time to implement loss and damage finance. I am being very clear – small-island developing states will no longer stand for delay on loss and damage finance,” he added.

Here in Jamaica, businesswoman and development professional Eleanor Jones said while disappointed with the gains to date, she was not surprised.

“All this effort and money being spent trying to get key financial stakeholders from the developed world to talk and to take action, but we seem to be in real trouble. Perhaps they feel it is a handout or that they don’t have anything to do with it,” noted the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica member.

“It is regrettable. As we destroy the planet, it is really the persons in SIDS who are feeling it and therefore it has nothing to do with them. They are not making the connection to what they may have contributed to it and the impact. But we can’t give up,” Jones added.

AOSIS, which has represented the interests of 39 small-island and low-lying coastal developing countries in climate and sustainable development negotiations since 1999, has no intention of giving up – despite their frustration and their patience wearing thin.

“We have come too far to fail on loss and damage finance. Three quarters of humanity is relying on a favourable outcome at COP27,” Joseph said.

“AOSIS and our fellow developing countries have toiled for the past 30 years to be heard on this issue. AOSIS has worked tirelessly this year to build consensus, devise a clear loss and damage response fund proposal, and ensure the commitment of the international community to come to COP27 and negotiate on this issue in good faith,” he added.

“Now, we are here, and some developed countries are furiously trying to stall progress and even worse, attempting to undermine small-island developing states. So, not only are they causing the worst impacts of the climate crisis, they are playing games with us in this multilateral process. There have only been informal consultations, to date, of this critical agenda item, and no official launch of negotiations through a Joint Contact Group,” Joseph said further.

SIDS and other developing states have maintained the need for financing to support loss and damage arising from adverse effects of climate change, including extreme weather events as well as sea level, increasing global temperatures, loss of biodiversity among other slow-onset events.

Only last month, AOSIS produced a briefing note that called for the establishment of a “new, fit-for-purpose multilateral fund” as an operating entity of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Financial Mechanism to help developing countries afford the cost of their responses to loss and damage.

UnaMay Gordon, former head of the Climate Change Division of Jamaica, who is at the COP, said the hope is that good sense will prevail.

“The continued trust in the multilateral system rest on a good decision on loss and damage,” she said.

“Without a doubt, the stakes are high in this COP. Good sense not only will, but must prevail,” Gordon added.