Rich polluting countries are trying to sink the UN’s Loss and Damage Fund. It’s climate colonialism

Rich polluting countries are trying to sink the UN’s Loss and Damage Fund. It’s climate colonialism

By: Izzie McIntosh
Date: 27 October 2023
Campaigns: Climate

Last week, countries from around the world had their fourth (and supposedly final) meeting to negotiate the design of the UN’s Loss and Damage fund, ahead of COP28. Countries in the global south are already fighting the devastating impacts of the climate crisis. They need money for climate loss and damage as soon as possible.

But despite the urgency, last week’s meeting finished with no agreement about how the loss and damage fund should work.

Talks ground to a halt because countries from the global south resisted demands from the USA and other wealthy allies that would seriously limit who could access the fund, and see much of the money paid out as loans, rather than grants.

Global south negotiators fought hard to stop this takeover by rich polluting nations – and won another opportunity to reach an agreement at a new meeting that will take place next weekend. The UK has failed to oppose the proposals being made by its allies and instead call for a strong loss and damage fund based on climate justice.

Why we need to keep the World Bank out of loss and damage

Led by the USA, a coalition of countries in the global north is insisting that the World Bank hosts the loss and damage fund. Global south countries are strongly opposing this move, and with good reason. The World Bank gives out most of its funding via loans, rather than grants. But loss and damage must be given as grants if it is to serve its purpose.

Think about it. Zambia is a climate vulnerable country, already experiencing flooding, extreme temperatures and droughts. This decade, the government is set to spend four times as much on repaying debt as it does on climate adaptation. Loss and damage only serves climate justice if it doesn’t saddle countries like Zambia with more debt.

The World Bank is also an institution designed and controlled by the global north, which has a long history of acting in its own interests and pushing fossil fuels in the global south. Trying to make it host the loss and damage fund is inappropriate, unjust, and a clear power grab by countries whose primary concern should be repairing the destruction created by their fossil fueled economies.

Don’t exclude affected countries

Another proposal that rich countries are pushing is to limit access to the fund to what are known internationally as the 34 ‘Least Developed Countries’.

This is a clear injustice that would see many countries robbed of compensation they are owed.

Pakistan, for example, contributes less than 1% of annual global emissions causing the climate crisis. Last year, it battled devastating floods which submerged swathes of its land, and are set to cost the country over £30 billion. If rich countries are successful in this demand, Pakistan wouldn’t qualify for loss and damage funding.

No to climate colonialism

Global south activists fought for years for a loss and damage fund. Now rich polluting countries are trying to deny them justice.  This isn’t climate justice. It’s climate colonialism. The UK has failed to play a constructive role in the negotiations so far. COP28 is nearly here and they’re yet to take a stand to demand a strong loss and damage fund based on climate justice. Negotiators have now arranged another meeting, from 3-4 November, to try to agree ahead of COP28. We need our government to take a stand.

We stand in solidarity with our allies in the global south. We demand that our government uses its influence with other wealthy countries to make them drop their unjust and unreasonable demands. We insist that they work together with the global south for climate justice at next week’s emergency meeting, and at COP28.

Write to the Foreign Secretary and demand the UK takes a stand at the emergency UN loss and damage meeting next week

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Photo: Mídia NINJA/Flickr