No excuse for inaction at UN climate talks

Thursday, November 14, 2013 - 12:00

It’s the first week of this year’s UN climate summit and much of the attention of the 195 governments taking part in the negotiations is on an international mechanism to deal with loss and damage caused by climate change. 

Delegates at last year’s conference in Doha agreed that this year’s round of talks would "establish...institutional arrangements, such as an international mechanism...to address loss and damage associated with the impacts of climate change in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change".

Loss and damage to property, lives and livelihoods happens when carbon emissions aren’t sufficiently reduced and when disaster risk reduction and adaptation measures fail.

The trail of destruction weaved by Typhoon Haiyan which hit the Philippines a few days ago serves as a stark reminder that there can't be any further delay in intensifying our efforts to tackle mounting loss and damage.

This is not something that’s going to hit people in the future, it’s happening now and needs quick action

Tackling loss and damage is about protecting people, their livelihoods and most importantly their human rights and dignity.

What’s currently on the table, isn’t enough

Current emission reduction commitments, by developed countries, fall far short of what would be needed to prevent us exceeding the critical 2°C limit, echoed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 

The current emission levels may still see the average earth temperature increase by 4°C or 6°C. This will alter weather patterns and ecosystems leading to grave impacts on people’s lives and livelihoods.

Climate change impacts are happening at a much faster rate than was understood by the global community 20 years ago

Slow onset events, including temperature and sea level rise, but also ocean acidification, glacial retreat and related impacts, salinisation, land and forest degradation, loss of biodiversity and desertification will cause unavoidable loss and damage in many countries.

This has grave consequences for the poorest and most vulnerable people, especially women and the marginalized, as they struggle to deal with lost lives, assets and livelihoods as well as invaluable resources like entire eco-systems. 

New report on loss and damage

Today we released a new report together with CARE and WWF, calling for the Warsaw talks to establish an international mechanism to help deal with this unprecedented climate change loss and damage.

It’s not just about developing financial measures to address climate change impacts that we can’t adapt to

It’s also about generating knowledge and finding new ways to deal with non-economic losses such as loss of biodiversity, indigenous knowledge, cultural heritage and ancestral burial sites.  

This all clearly shows that there is no excuse for continued inaction at the UN climate talks.